Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 3, 2014

‘Allowing fracking is a Pandora’s Box’

“Be careful.”

By Ainslie Cruickshank on February 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

Chief Sharleen Gale and Lana Lowe

“Be careful.”

That was the advice offered to Yukoners from the chief of the Fort Nelson First Nation as the territory continues its debate about hydraulic fracturing.

Chief Sharleen Gale and Lana Lowe, the director of the B.C. First Nation’s department of lands and resources, presented before the legislature’s Select Committee Regarding the Risks and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing on Saturday afternoon.

Of the eight presentations the committee heard Friday and Saturday, the Fort Nelson First Nation was the only one to receive applause from the public gallery – which earned the onlookers an admonishment from the chair of the committee. Decorum dictates that the public gallery is to remain silent.

Chief Gale noted more than once throughout the presentation that the First Nation still hasn’t said “yes” to natural gas development in its territory, even as it is currently underway.

The First Nation is trying to work with the B.C. government to ensure the community has a central role in resource and land management in its territory, but it appears a constant battle.

Lowe highlighted several of the community’s main concerns, which include impacts on air quality, water, wildlife, and vegetation.

She shared the sad tale of a black bear that was recently run-over and killed in its den by a mulcher clearing a seismic line.

The First Nation, she noted, has a strong relationship with the company, which has agreed to take measures, including using infrared lights, to ensure nothing like that happens again.

But Fort Nelson wants the B.C. government to step up as well.

The community has more than a handful of concerns about the B.C. government’s approach to regulating the oil and gas industry.

Lowe said the government’s response when the First Nation raised concerns about rare and medicinal plants that were located in an area where a gas plant was planned, was to get the company to move the plants. The community found the decision unacceptable.

The First Nation is also disappointed that B.C. doesn’t have a policy in place to limit the number of gas processing plants allowed in the region, nor a plan for the trees that are coming down as industry adapts the landscape for its own use.

Lowe noted that they are working with Gilles Wendling, a hydrologist who presented to the select committee Friday morning, to develop a better understanding of the impacts on water and how best to manage them.

As a result of those efforts, the community is pressuring the government not to issue water licences on shallow water bodies, she noted.

The B.C. government’s regulatory system is ineffective and only manages the industry on an incremental basis, Lowe said, noting there’s little to no attention paid to cumulative effects.

The increased development in the area has had real impacts on the First Nation’s citizens ability to lead a traditional lifestyle as well, Gale noted.

There’s less access to wildlife, people can no longer drink from rivers and streams, and they’ve noticed reduced stream flow along some traditional transportation routes, which has impacted travel by boat, she said.

The two First Nation’s representatives said the B.C. government has not respected their rights as First Nations and has not adequately consulted them nor included them in the regulatory process, and they fear it will only get worse in their territory.

They expect 3,000 more wells could be drilled over the next 30 years.

The best way to manage the impacts is to work with government, they said, but ultimately their presentation concluded with a sombre warning.

“Allowing fracking is a Pandora’s Box which will have severe and far-reaching consequences.”

Notes from all eight presentations are available on the committee’s website at http://www.legassembly.gov.yk.ca/rbhf.

CommentsAdd a comment

kate moylan

Feb 3, 2014 at 10:34 pm

They expect 3,000 more wells could be drilled over the next 30 years.

Holy s—t…this is not good news and if the Yukon wants this, then we as Yukon people drop onto our knees and pray…pray that the big trucks and the flares do not wipe us out…for the sake of jobs, jobs which will go to others like the Chinese. People wake up!

June Jackson

Feb 3, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Nobody has any rights..when we have a majority government we have a dictatorship..so the governments don’t respect treaty agreements..what are you going to do about it?  Take it to court while the government continues on selling off the land? The air? The water ?  No fracking in faro and it will be hundreds of years before that’s all cleaned up..Venus didn’t even get off the ground and it managed to poison so much land and water that there are do not eat the raspberries signs around it..imagine what fracking is going to do to us?

The oil and gas companies are looking at us seriously now because they know this government can be bought and is not interested in the environment ..also, all these shareholders pushing for more bucks..don’t live here.

my 2 bits

Feb 5, 2014 at 1:12 am

As someone who has nothing to gain either as an investor, consumer or worker, I’m scared!  I question the water quality already!  I think our water supply is a far greater natural resource (and, sustainable) than natural gas!. Don’t s—t where you eat!

north of 60

Feb 5, 2014 at 4:19 pm

The Fracking issue is a good diversion to keep the emotionally motivated anti-everything crowd distracted.
They know how they feel, and don’t want their preconceived notions confused by inconvenient facts.


Feb 6, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I agree with Kate Moylan

Let’s reduce the flaring and drill without hydraulic fracking
Challenge the industry. Allow drilling if its green and does not involve fracking.

The gas resource can sit there until companies owe up to the fact they can work harder and be creative. They can still get the gas and still make money without fracking and excessive flaring and their footprint can be very small. Why do we have to allow destructive extraction and exploration processes. Its our resource and we live here- let’s get it right.

Boyd Campbell

Feb 11, 2014 at 8:45 am

If you look at commercially overdeveloped Whitehorse it would be prudent to assume the investors have been told the road we are going down. The “Whitehorse Trough” was the learning test case thrown out as bait when the decision was made to trash the Peel Plan. When the general public screams louder than the investors who have taken a risk the government is in a precarious situation. Hopefully we get better at detecting the lies at election time and vote what is morally right. If you vote with your mortgage and the house which was overpriced the whole Yukon will be fracked and smell like Alberta. Is that not one of reasons why you moved here??

Pro-Science Greenie

Feb 13, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Disappointing to see so much fear mongering and exaggeration by the left of center crowd opposed to not only fracking but any and all resource development. Very similar to those crying that the End Times are upon us. And about as scientific.

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