Impacts of fracking on rural communities severe, costly

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To the editor,
The Ecology Action Centre released their comprehensive report on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing as part of their submission to the provincial review of fracking.

The 42-page report finds that economic benefits in other jurisdictions have been short-term and weak while the community and environmental costs will be long-term.

Fracking is such a new technology, with horizontal drilling and slickwater mixtures being developed only in the past decade. We are just starting to see some of the impacts in other areas and it is not looking good. This report is the first comprehensive look at the potential impacts of fracking on Nova Scotia and makes a strong case that fracking will not promote economic development as promised or help us meet our energy and greenhouse gas targets.

The report’s five authors focused on different aspects of hydraulic fracturing, including energy and economics, groundwater, transportation, wilderness and food. Each section documents the most recent findings from areas where fracking is active, and applies that experience to the Nova Scotia context.

This report explains how the energy industry has exaggerated their claims of the size of the resource. Resources of shale have recently been downgraded by 85 per cent in the U.S. and by 80 per cent in Poland, according to the centre’s energy co-ordinator, Catherine Abreu. New estimates suggest there might only be six years of gas in the U.S. at our current rates of consumption. And we want to use this technology here to get at the very last oil and gas resources in Nova Scotia? It’s not the way forward, it’s the way backward.

The Ecology Action Centre finds the impacts associated with fracking are widespread, ranging from adding to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, to contamination of air and drinking water and damages to rural roads from industrial trucking. We contend that these far outweigh the very few benefits, which include an uncertain number of short-term jobs.

The fracking fluid that is injected into the shale might reach surface water in less than 10 years. Where groundwater has been contaminated by the oil and gas industry in the U.S., some regions have been too expensive to clean up and remain unusable. We know that natural gas can be found in drinking water near well sites, and we know that we don’t have a good understanding of our drinking water in Nova Scotia.

The EAC is submitting their report to the provincial review panel on hydraulic fracturing. The panel is accepting reports and letters from the public until April 30. The report is available online at the EAC website.

Jennifer J. West, M.Sc., P.Geo.

Editor and Groundwater author

Geoscience Coordinator

Ecology Action Centre

Organizations: Ecology Action Centre

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, U.S., Poland

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