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.
Yesterday the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) announced their investigative series on fracking in British Columbia. The feature report will cover the rise of the shale boom in the province’s remote northeast corner. The CBC radio report, called Cornering Gas, presents an opportunity for people to voice their concerns about the controversial fracking process and take part in the growing debate over BC’s role in the country’s energy future.
As the CBC reports, shale gas in BC has ballooned into a multi-billion-dollar industry and is expected to transform the province’s remote regions into bustling boom towns. CBC host Robert Boane and reporter Betsy Trumpener traveled to Fort Nelson to conduct interviews within a 'boom no bust' atmosphere. Fort Nelson, a town of 4000, is expected to triple in size.
Two of Canada’s most plentiful shale gas deposits are in the area where some of the largest fracking operations in the world are taking place. Kerry Guy, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), told the CBC they currently estimate more than a century’s worth of shale gas in the region.
But the shale gas boom in BC has brought a lot more in its wake than just short-term economic opportunity.
British Columbia is providing the gas industry with 78 million cubic meters of free water each year, according to a recent CBC article. That water, the equivalent to 31,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, is used to hydraulically fracture, or frack, the Northeast portion of the province which is undergirded by a vast reservoir of unconventional gas.
The B.C. government has recently added another 3.65 million cubic meters of water per year to that total by issuing an additional permit to Talisman Energy. The permit grants Talisman permission to withdrawal water from the Williston Reservoir, B.C.’s largest freshwater body, for 20 years.
Historically, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC) has granted short-term, temporary water withdrawal permits to the oil and gas industry, a process critics argued circumvented the environmental evaluation necessary for long-term permits. In this instance, Talisman has received one of the largest water withdrawal permits of its kind.
Independent Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in British Columbia are calling upon Premier Christy Clark to launch a comprehensive investigation into hydraulic fracturing. This demand comes late in the game, some say, after the world’s largest fracking operations have already taken place in the remote and pristine wilds of the province.
BC’s two Independent MLAs, Bob Simpson and Vicki Huntington, are not alone in their request for a full examination of the human and environmental health implications of the province’s unconventional gas resources. Supporting the appeal are numerous citizen and environmental groups, journalists, and First Nation’s representatives. They believe the rapid development of gas in BC’s north is taking place without consideration of the costs to public health and safety.