BC Tap Water Alliance Calls for Resignation of Energy Minister Coleman Over Fracking

Mon, 2011-11-07 16:37Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

BC Tap Water Alliance Calls for Resignation of Energy Minister Coleman Over Fracking

The B.C. Tap Water Alliance (BCTWA) called today for the resignation of British Columbia’s Energy Minister Rich Coleman. The demand comes on the heels of a Global TV program 16:9 which on Saturday evening aired Untested Science, an investigation into the recent surge of fracking across BC and Alberta.  During the program Minister Coleman is berated by investigators for failing to keep his promise to implement a public consultation process in BC, a province beset by some of the largest fracking operations in the world.

The BC public has been largely kept in the dark regarding the unconventional gas operations spreading throughout the Horn River and Montney Basins. But the rapid and experimental development of the resources caused BC’s two Independent MLAs to call for a province-wide, independent review of the process. So far, their request has been met with silence and, as Minister Coleman demonstrated, hollow gestures.
 
On June 1, 2011, Minister Coleman guaranteed the British Columbian public that “an extensive process of public consultation” would be put into place to allow the public to comment and become a part of the approval process that determines the gas industry’s reign in the province’s northeastern shale gas plays. Despite this promise, the gas industry has been granted numerous water withdrawal permits since then without any consultation of the public.
 
As DeSmogBlog reported at the time, the BC Oil & Gas Commission had already allotted 78 million cubic meters of water to fracking companies each year, free of charge, before adding an additional 3.65 million cubic meters to that total for Talisman Energy in July of this year. The water is pumped from BC’s largest fresh water body, the Williston Reservoir. The company withdrawal permits are valid for 20 years.
 
According to a press release from the BCTWA, Talisman and another unconventional gas company, Canbriam Energy, have nearly completed the 60-kilometer twin water pipeline that connects the Williston Reservoir directly to the Farrell Creek gas play, north of Hudson’s Hope where Talisman alone will frack nearly 1,400 wells. 
 
In BC a single gas pad may host up to 20 gas wells and each can be fracked up to 20 times. Each individual frack job can require more than 4,000 cubic meters of water, according to the BCTWA, the equivalent of 4 million liters of water, or about one-and-a-half Olympic sized swimming pools. 
 
In order to retrieve the gas trapped within shale deposits, companies must mix the fresh water with tens of thousands of gallons of highly toxic chemicals which pose a serious threat to other sources of surface and underground water.
 
The BC government’s abysmal lack of oversight has earned the province an industry-friendly reputation. According to Alberta Oil Magazine, “it’s not just geology that has smiled on northeastern B.C.’s shale plays – government policies have as well.”

As the magazine describes it, the province’s land tenure, leasing and royalty systems all work together for the industry’s good. The generous royalty program in BC, most notably, by allowing companies to pay their royalties in kind by building roads and infrastructure…to new industry gas and pipeline projects.
 
But BC’s poor record of public consultation, combined with its anemic oversight structure, is starting to anger the masses.
 
The BCTWA press release quotes independent MLA Bob Simpson, one of the voices calling for a provincial investigation into the process, saying,
“Despite the Minister’s promise, the Oil & Gas Commission approved the pipeline without consulting the public and before the water licenses were even approved. The this week a water license was approved without any notification to the public, let alone holding ‘extensive’ consultations and discussions.”
Instances such as the Williston Reservoir pipeline demonstrate the “complete absence of public policy guiding BC’s natural gas industry,” says the BCTWA.
 
The press release adds that although Talisman Energy originally agreed to be interviewed by Global TV, the company later refused to participate. 
 
Will Koop, Coordinator of the BCTWA, is demanding reparations. “Mr. Coleman misled the Speak of the House, the Legislative Assembly and the public in its court of law. The Minister’s misgivings and sorry excuse in 16:9’s interview about granting the 20-year contracts on a topic rife with controversy, amidst growing public awareness without public planning, is utterly inexcusable,” said Koop in the press release.
 
“Mr. Coleman failed the public. The Premier must not only call for his resignation, but enact our request for a public inquiry and a moratorium on fracking in BC.”
 

The BCTWA has been at the helm of other meaningful calls for accountability on behalf of the BC government. Let's hope this time their concerns are more meaningfully heeded.

Comments

“Each individual frack job can require more than 4,000 cubic meters of water.”

Well, considering the volume of Williston Lake is 74,000,000,000,000 litres, I doubt it’ll be running dry any time soon!

Also, your 4,000 cubic meters of water per frack job is wildly inflated.

I now believe you to be ignorant and simply suffering from verbal diarrhea.  Please refrain from speaking on subjects that you obviously don’t know a single thing about.

I work on rigs.  Rigs are big loud noisy THIRSTY beasts.  Everyone in the oil industry knows this.  Drills run on MUD (dirty water, chemically enhanced for drilling purposes).

Yup… mud motors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mud_motor

So, the whole well is full of water, and up to 30,000 feet deep. (Smaller diameter as you go down.)  Thats a big long tube of water.  In the process of drilling this water is rendered into toxic waste which can and does kill people. (Water absorbes H2S from down hole.)

The rigs need a constant supply of water because as they drill deeper and deeper they need more water and the water starts to fill into formations.

As you know, the rigs shut down in the spring rains.  This is because the big honking heavy water trucks trash the soil, and in the rain, they sink right in.

Even the hookers in Alberta are smart enough to know this.  (Thats when they can bag a rig pig.)

When they Frack, they bring in even more trucks.  8 at a time… and pump that down until the pressure gauges suddenly release.

Wildly inflated??? Surely not Carol! Anyway let’s hope she is right because this will be a major boom for the American economy as well. First consider that if an oilfield tanker hauls 120 barrel (sometimes less because of weight restrictions) then this will be a minimum of 84,000 truckloads per well site. Now there may be 10, 15 maybe more frack jobs per week then just at 10 it will be 840,000 truck loads per week. Trucking companies working three crews running legal hours will be 280,000 truck drivers. On the low end about 56,000 support jobs for the trucks will be needed. Now figure in a modest indirect employment multiplier of 5 and this will create 1,680,000 jobs. Consider that the drivers and support will average $120k per year this will be $206,000,000 just in direct employment. I hope she is accurate on her figures as this will bring a lot of this “big oil” money back in the hands of the population. 280k truck drivers needed, Granny and the kids will be driving trucks!

A water truck is 8000 to 17000 litres… 1000 litres to a cubic meter…   So lets be fair… and I’ll say 10 cubic meters per truck, so… 400 truck loads of water per frack..  That must be why they hook up a healthy 8 trucks at a time.

And no… that’s not a lot of employment.