Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 13, 2014

Institute highlights need for strong fracking rules

Since hydraulic fracturing can have “large-scale impacts,” it requires “large-scale planning and monitoring,” according to a technical analyst from the Pembina Institute.

By Ainslie Cruickshank on February 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm

photo

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Adam Goehner

Since hydraulic fracturing can have “large-scale impacts,” it requires “large-scale planning and monitoring,” according to a technical analyst from the Pembina Institute.

Adam Goehner presented before the Yukon Select Committee regarding the Risks and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing in late January on behalf of the Pembina Institute, a non-profit think tank dedicated to transitioning Canada to a clean-energy economy.

Goehner concluded his presentation by reiterating two keys points:

• technologies and practices exist to minimize some, although not all, impacts of hydraulic fracturing; and

• communities should have access to independent information and have a meaningful role in baseline data collection and decision-making.

Over the course of his talk, Goehner outlined the risks to water, land, and air, and made recommendations for designing a strong regulatory system to minimize those impacts.

Risks to water include high usage and contamination from hydraulic fracturing fluids.

To reduce the use of fresh water, Goehner noted the recycling of water is becoming a more common practice.

It’s also possible to use saline groundwater, he said, although measures must be taken to reduce the risk of contaminating fresh groundwater sources.

He also noted that strict monitoring of casings is necessary to reduce risk of leaks.

Water management plans are key to protecting valuable fresh water resources in a region, Goehner continued.

A strong management plan requires understanding of baseline data and knowledge of use and performance statistics throughout development stages.

Air emissions are also a considerable factor when dealing with the production of natural gas, and regulations need to be in place to limit the impact.

Surface and land disturbance are yet another consideration when designing a regulatory regime. Governments need to account for all project plans when doing regional planning to avoid duplication of infrastructure, Goehner suggested.

Even reclamation won’t necessarily return a landscape to the way it was before.

In wetland areas, for instance, that region is often reclaimed as a forested area. But companies and governments need to agree on the specifics of reclamation before development occurs, he told the committee.

Goehner highlighted the need for strong regulation when it comes to limiting cumulative effects, as well.

Cumulative effects need to be monitored and threshold measurements need to be in place at a regional level, he said, not on a project-by-project basis.

Goehner was one of eight people and organizations to present before the committee at the end of last month.

The committee was formed in May 2013 to develop a scientific understanding of fracking and to make recommendations to the legislative assembly about whether the Yukon should permit the controversial practice in the territory.

CommentsAdd a comment

north_of_60

Feb 13, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Good summary.  Yes there are risks but they can me minimized to insignificance with good practice, stringent regulations, and thorough enforcement.  Those who are blindly opposed to ‘fracking’ should instead be calling for the very best regulations and enforcement for drilling and completing wells in the Yukon.

Qulan

Feb 13, 2014 at 5:01 pm

North of 60, you missed the line about some, not all impacts being minimized.  Minimized does not mean insignificant or eliminated, just made as small as possible.  Seat belts minimize risk of death in a head on crash, but don’t make the risk insignificant.  Besides, Goehner never said a risk/effect could be made insignificant.

north_of_60

Feb 13, 2014 at 9:53 pm

@Q go back read slowly for comprehension.
Try to state your own views clearly and refrain from attempts to interpret the comments of others.

B. Foster

Feb 14, 2014 at 11:01 am

@north
Insignificant risk. An oxymoron if there ever was one.

Regulations and enforcement mean squat in the face of circumstances that head South with little warning and become a battle in which we are forced to protect / restore what we already have, namely, a reasonably unspoiled environment.

Fact….the practice of fracking uses HUGE amounts of fresh water. No denying this….simply no denying it.
Fact….all that water does not simply vanish. It becomes contaminated and requires storage either above ground or below….no denying this.
Fact….well casings fail….no denying this.
Fact….the large expenditure involved in exploiting oil and gas resources means that said resources will be exploited for sale on the open market….fact.
Fact….the driving force behind this initiative is profit….fact.

As long as the resource is exploited for profit over need it will leave behind a legacy of unmitigated damage that will have to be dealt with by our kids and theirs. Look at California. They are dealing with a drought of epic proportions that stands to negatively impact the state in ways they are afraid to voice. People are already being told they will have to change their lifestyle to conserve water for the good of all they are told; yet they are still fracking…..for profit. There is currently a glut of gas in North America and prices are down. Yet money trumps all and the fracking continues. All are being asked to sacrifice but they do not stop the fracking..why? Fracking is even being implicated in the cause of the drought yet it continues unabated. This is the mentality we invite here….the mentality that the quest for profit will not be hindered even if the whole territory has to pay to in the name of profit for a few ambitious key players.

If we allow this activity here knowing what has allegedly happened elsewhere, knowing the significant risk associated with the practice, then we run the risk of losing the intrinsic value of what we already have.

The risk outweighs the benefit.

B. Foster

Feb 14, 2014 at 11:17 am

Forgot to address the section of this article regarding cumulative effects and the need to monitor threshold limits.

It occurs to me that the cumulative effects are not clear nor is it clear if the thresholds change over time. EG: after the resource is depleted and the corporations have moved on to greener pastures; presumably there will be the requirement to continually monitor all the sites for said cumulative effects and this monitoring would need to continue potentially forever. After all…well casings fail (fact) and given the fact that we are in a zone of significant seismic activity the risk of failure is increased.

So…the industry will have moved on. At some point the resource will have been depleted yet the region will require monitoring forever to ensure the integrity of the well casings and the water sources have not been contaminated.

The risk of contamination will exist forever in theory as we do not know what happens to the slurry of contaminated water that gets “stored” in the underground injection wells.

Sounds nice. Sounds foolproof…lol…

Pro-Science Greenie

Feb 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm

So Goehner is saying that with the right regulations, monitoring and technology some fracking may be fine? If so, then that’s bad news for the Yukon’s left of center green groups that want all fracking banned. Guess they’ll do what they normally do and bring out the Precautionary Principle to reject any science saying fracking in certain situations is relatively harmless.

B. Foster

Feb 14, 2014 at 5:52 pm

@greenie

We can only hope….

north_of_60

Feb 14, 2014 at 8:24 pm

The anti-fracking religion is a branch of the anti-everything church; the same folks who believe that our comfortable lifestyle causes global warming, the climate to change, as well as fire, floods and pestilence.  Like all religions it’s based on unquestioning faith, the word of messiahs, and a unilateral denial of anything that doesn’t fit the accepted dogma.

It’s good for folks to have religions, faith can bring comfort in times of confusion and uncertainty. 

For good reason the separation of religion and government is enshrined in our political process.  This separation applies equally to new religions as it does to those thousands of years old.

B. Foster

Feb 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm

@north
haha….yeah, ya might wanna fly the separation of church and state past Harper who’s personal belief includes an all powerful entity that will restore the Earth if we get too out of hand and manage to break it. Look it up. Here, lemme help…

http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/03/26/Harper-Evangelical-Mission/

BTW…..anti fracking religion?? Looks like you’re fresh out of bullets son.

ex miner

Feb 15, 2014 at 6:11 pm

North
Too bad this separation you refer to doesn’t include the religion of “money before all else”.

Qulan

Feb 18, 2014 at 10:08 am

Unfortunately, many risks cannot be minimized via regulation & best practice to insignificance.  While those “blindly opposed” don’t consider rebuttals, that does not mean there are substantial rebuttals to a fracking ban.  Considering the confirmed cases of significant problems with fracking, the monetary & non-monetary costs associated with those problems and that there are viable alternatives, why would we take the chance?  Add that to the massive water consumption & disposal needs, the scale easily tips to No Fracking.

north_of_60

Feb 18, 2014 at 4:45 pm

@ Qulan

What “confirmed cases of significant problems with fracking” ?
Enough rhetoric, now be specific.

Here are the facts, let’s see yours.
“Fracking has been used in Canada since the 1960s. Since then, more than 175,000 wells have been fracked in British Columbia and Alberta “without a case of harm to drinking water,” according to regulating agencies in both provinces. That number constitutes more than a third of all wells in this country in the last half-century.

In New Brunswick there have been 49 fracking operations since the mid-1980s, all without a single report of water contamination. In the United States around 90 per cent of 493,000 active natural gas wells in the country, across 31 states, were fracked.
These numbers do not constitute the unknown record of a new, untested technique that those concerned about its safety would have us believe. Rather, they indicate the concerns about the safety of fracking for water tables, while valid, are grossly exaggerated.

At what point do we cease to concentrate on the negative and stop rejecting the positive experiences of other jurisdictions?”

B. Foster

Feb 19, 2014 at 1:41 pm

@north
At what point do we cease to concentrate on the negatives of fracking? When the potential for it to happen here goes away.
For every stat you can throw out there, there will be a corresponding stat stating the contrary. What this means is that the practice is at best controversial and at worst could be devastating to our resource commons.

It’s a money play, a backroom agenda play, a collusive greasy palm winkfest.
You can take some solace in that fracking will likely come here as it is painfully obvious that YG wants it and is actively advertising for players (Yukon, North of Ordinary, page 78 lower right corner) so time will tell. Their performance regarding the Peel fiasco will attest. I hope your confidence is well placed. My mistrust of resource exploitation for profit remains. Resource exploitation to service a need, ok, to line multinational armani suit pockets…I’ll take a pass.

Fracking, mining, logging, corporate farming, corporate feed lots…..on and on it’s all the same problem. Money outweighs and displaces servicing a need in a simple and sustainable manner.
The risk outweighs the gain.

On the other hand….the players seem like nice guys so who knows. Their heart is obviously in the right place…..
http://rt.com/usa/chevron-fracking-fire-pizza-coupons-622/

B. Foster

Feb 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Correction:

Yukon, North of Ordinary, Volume 8 Issue 1 Spring 2014, page 78 lower right corner.
“Largely unexplored and rich in potential, it’s time you considered Yukon” (subject is the Yukon’s oil and gas potential and payed for by YG EMR)

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