Whitehorse Daily Star

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LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE – Frackfree Yukon alliance members Peter Becker, Jean-Francois Deslauriers and Jacqueline Vigneux (left to right) discuss their strategy to pursue a referendum during Wednesday afternoon’s news conference.

Alliance seeks direct vote on fracking issue

The Frackfree Yukon Alliance wants to hold a referendum on whether fracking should be permitted inside Whitehorse city limits.

By Chuck Tobin on January 22, 2015

The Frackfree Yukon Alliance wants to hold a referendum on whether fracking should be permitted inside Whitehorse city limits.

The organization held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to denounce this week’s report to the legislature on hydraulic fracturing and discuss its future plans to push for a legally-binding referendum.

The report is weak.

As well, its summary misrepresents what the legislative committee heard, and it sidesteps the key question of whether fracking should be banned in the Yukon, Frackfree representatives told reporters.

In fact, they said, the report plays right into the hands of the oil and gas industry, and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Products has already described the 25-page document as a good report.

Peter Becker said the review by the legislative committee and its report recommending further studies is a classic example of the strategy used by industry to keep the discussion going while industry gradually moves in.

The anti-fracking movement calls it talk and frack, or frack and talk, he said.

Becker said it’s happening in the Yukon right now.

While Northern Cross and EFLO Energy Yukon insist they have no intention at this time to conduct hydraulic fracturing in their exploration programs, their methods of exploration are used exclusively for fracking projects, he said.

Becker said their methods don’t fit with conventional oil and gas production.

The report to the legislature is simply buying time for the industry, said Jean-Francois Deslauriers.

The six-member, all-party legislative committee was struck in May 2013 to look at the benefits and risks of permitting hydraulic fracturing in the Yukon.

Yukon Party MLA and committee chair Patti McLeod delivered the report Monday morning.

NDP committee members said this week that division along party lines – three Yukon Party members versus two NDP and one Liberal – resulted in a stalemate on the question of whether fracking can be done safely, and whether it should be permitted in the Yukon.

A good number of the 21 recommendations call for more research to better understand its impact on water, air, wildlife and human health.

The Yukon Party government has indicated it will issue its response to the report once it’s had time to complete a thorough assessment of it.

“Frackfree Yukon Alliance holds that the tenor of the select committee’s report is focused on building a case for the eventual authorization of fracking, against the wishes of the individuals and groups of Yukon citizens who overwhelmingly, categorically and unequivocally communicated to the committee that they wanted a complete ban on the practice of fracking in the Yukon,” said Deslauriers.

He said the committee’s report speaks to the need for a greater understanding of the industry before Yukoners can make an informed decision.

“We don’t need more research,” he insisted. “The verdict is already in.”

There needs to be a ban on fracking in the Yukon if the territory’s pristine environment is to be protected. The committee did indeed hear much evidence about the dangers of fracking, the Frackfree representatives said.

“Dozens of other jurisdictions have conducted research much broader than anything the Yukon could afford to do, and many have enacted a complete ban on the practice,” said Deslauriers.

“France, Germany, Quebec, California, Texas, Hawaii, are just some of the big players who have chosen to ban fracking on their territory.”

He said the organization is drafting a proposed bylaw for Whitehorse residents to consider banning fracking inside city limits, and they encourage the other seven communities covered by the Municipal Act to do the same.

Not only would it address fracking inside city limits, but it would also send a strong message with fewer than two years to go before the next territorial election, suggested the Frackfree representatives.

Deslauriers said Frackfree Yukon will be meeting in two weeks with its sister organization, Yukoners Concerned About Oil and Gas Exploration/Development, to discuss the referendum strategy.

Yukoners Concerned, he pointed out, has already compiled a Yukon-wide anti-fracking petition supported by some 8,000 Yukoners.

Under the Municipal Act, eligible Whitehorse voters can force a legally binding referendum if it can present a petition to city council supported by at least 25 per cent of the electorate.

Rob Fendrick, the city’s director of corporate services, said today there were 12,763 names on the voters list in 2012. That would mean a petition supported by at least 3,190 voters is required to force a referendum.

The act, however, also states referenda can only be held on matters that fall within the city’s jurisdiction.

Fendrick said whether oil and gas activity inside city limits falls within city hall’s jurisdiction is unclear.

The proposal is hypothetical right now, so the city is just observing at this point, he said.

See related story below; letter, commentary.

Comments (29)

Up 0 Down 0

north_of_60 on Jan 28, 2015 at 5:25 pm

I would suggest that it is misleading at best and disrespectful to assume that those who want more comprehensive regulations including tweaking and perhaps more 'teeth', haven't taken the time to read our existing rules and regulations for resource development. Nobody suggested that we have none, and to assume that is wrong. We clearly need more comprehensive regulations to better include petroleum development and the tests which must be performed when hydraulic fracturing is used.

Up 17 Down 1

Wilf Carter What do rich people really do with their money on Jan 28, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Rich spend their money and create jobs. Tim Horton has over 11000 employees. If Tim were alive he would be proud of the success of his business. Number one franchise in Canada now. The man that made it happen came from nothing in Nova Scotia, Ron Joyce. He gives back a lot to society and the big project is the Tim's children camps. Money makes our economy work and that is created by people with drive, that take risks and build wealth. It is no different than a 1000 years ago when people who hunted to feed their people were very strong and successful and everyone lived well. If we don't have a successful economy in Canada and Yukon we will not eat well.

Up 2 Down 10

B. Foster on Jan 28, 2015 at 12:05 pm

@silent majority

In my case, which is to say I hope to never see the practice here, I am a member of a five generation Yukon family that has an aversion to crapping where I eat. Again....that's just me.

Up 8 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Jan 28, 2015 at 11:46 am

I would suggest that north_of_60 and others take the time to read our existing rules and regulations for resource development. To talk as if we have none is wrong. Do they need tweaking and perhaps more 'teeth'? Most likely, but to talk as if we have none at all is misleading at best and disrespectful to all the stakeholders that worked hard to create what we have and to those that sincerely play by the rules.

As far as the Opposition goes, perhaps if they stopped making statements such as banning all claim staking and broad-brush portraying resource companies as evil capitalist determined to clear cut, strip mine, frack and pave the entire territory then their talk of not being anti-development might be taken to be sincere.

All three parties could do a lot better than they are now.

Up 0 Down 11

B. Foster on Jan 28, 2015 at 11:28 am

Bravo. Well put, very concise. Well worth reading with some great points.

I'm still dead set against fracking itself and pretty much anything that aids rich people / corporations from getting richer quicker at any cost...but that's just me. If it's about money somebody is gonna screw somebody else over to get it.

Great post though....

Up 15 Down 3

Silent Majority on Jan 27, 2015 at 8:52 pm

I'd like to know which "majority of Yukoners" oppose fracking?
Numbers please.
Is it perhaps the influx of out of territory & out of country people who are currently calling Whitehorse their home?
(as represented by the folks in the picture).
Please advise.

Up 7 Down 7

north_of_60 on Jan 27, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Foolish Fanatics Focused on Fracking, "can't see the forest for the trees". Fracking is part of petroleum extraction, which is part of mineral extraction, which is a big segment of resource extraction. Unregulated or poorly regulated resource extraction will harm the environment, often irreparably.

In the Yukon one political extreme wants unfettered resource extraction, and their propaganda emphasizes the quick wealth that's supposed to bring. The other political extreme wants to eliminate resource extraction and preserve the natural environment, and their propaganda emphasizes the destructive effects of resource extraction.

It's unfortunate that the support for reasonable economic gain while preserving a sustainable natural environment is spread across three opposition parties, while the willingness to compromise the environment for quick economic gain "so we all get rich" is focused on one political party. The "easy money" party usually gains control, especially when the opposition parties continue to act like pigs on ice.

The results of the last election should be a wake-up call to all opposition party members and sympathizers. A coalition of opposition parties could have formed a government. Unfortunately the opposition continues to squabble among themselves preserving their fragile egos and reinforcing the public perception that they're not fit to govern and will bring about economic stagnation.

The opposition parties could demonstrate leadership by forming a non-partisan group to draft regulations for a sustainable balance of resource extraction and environmental preservation. When the next election is called, the opposition parties could run a coalition of candidates all supporting those draft regulations, with only one opposition party candidate in each riding.

Demonstrating leadership and cooperation to support the Yukon environment instead of "Rape the Land to Get Rich Quick" might just form a government. In any case it's got a better chance than the status quo.

Up 7 Down 2

Gropucho d'North on Jan 26, 2015 at 6:41 pm

Others have said and I will again. Why can't we create an oil and gas industry in the Yukon without fracking? I suspect there would have been plenty to establish operations similar to how the Kotaneelee Gas Field project performed for many years. When the deposit is drawn out, seal it up and move on- no need to frack the last 4% out of it.
Lets start to consider some compromises in this debate, and get back to some dialog rather than barking over the fence at each other.

Up 8 Down 6

B. Foster on Jan 25, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Fracking not the cause for leaks into water....


Up 18 Down 2

Wilf Carter Peoples Party in the Yukon on Jan 25, 2015 at 1:25 pm

Yukon is a small place and we could have the peoples party of independent candidates. I know six people that are thinking the same. There is lot of people wanting to run in the Premier's riding to remove him and I might be one. I know a lot people in that riding and have a better handle on what they wanted. There was a lot of people that voted for the Premier in the last election in that riding who are not going to vote for him again. For me If I see things that elected officials are doing right or wrong I will give my opinion. The Premier will not let Yukon Party ministers talk to party members. WHY?

Up 14 Down 21

aubin tuzlak on Jan 24, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Hard as it may be for some to understand, the whole idea of getting energy from ex-centric, explosive tech is a dead end road. Let's just stop pointing fingers and move on to real concrete solutions that focus on renewable energy or better yet take off the newtonian blinders that stop us from using zero-point energy... yes I drive a car sometimes, yes the place I now reside in burns fossil fuel, so what, it does not mean I/we cannot move towards better, real solutions. Frack-off

Up 4 Down 8

June Jackson on Jan 24, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Mr. Bit an..I appreciate your comments..my best advice is do not listen to either side..research it yourself, watch the documentaries..post the facts as you find them and add your insights..they are quite interesting..

Sourdough..you are sooooooo right..thanks for putting words to this.

Up 11 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Jan 24, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Bobby Bitman's stance on false rhetoric is commendable. We see too much of that and so little facts and real science free of ideology. That makes obtaining wise compromise leading to realistic modern solutions impossible to achieve.

Full throttle resource extraction isn't the answer nor are complete bans. Maybe limited fracking for our own energy use could be a good thing? How about fracking of deep hot rocks for geothermal energy generation? Maybe not? We don't know yet.

Both the NDP and the YP are in an 'us vs. them' war with fracking and the Peel. Both want that sweet spot at the helm next election with no concern about the collateral damage they both cause. Our poor Liberal Party is nebulous at best. Maybe a couple of rational Green or independent MLAs elected next election to stir things up could be the ticket to break us out of tangled web of old boys and girls clubs that have had their finger in too many pies for the last few decades?

Up 12 Down 5

Just Say'in on Jan 24, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Take a look at the names of the people on that panel. (Picture above) Don't look like long term Yukoners to me. More like designated imports.

Up 19 Down 6

Wilf Carter We should start a new industry called the bull development on Jan 24, 2015 at 9:33 am

Bull Developments is a new development in the Yukon. Or should we call it the new anti bull commission development or short ABCD. But this is getting far out and most people are sick of the subject. No wonder the Yukon economy is the worse in Canada and will get worse if this type of negative approach continues. We are sending a message that we are not open for business.

Up 8 Down 12

Sourdough on Jan 24, 2015 at 8:45 am

Joel; there is plenty of research done that proves that fracking is destructive to the environment and all lives not just to humans. It starts to create more and more earthquakes and it makes no real money. The problem is the mainstream media won't publicize this, they bring only the propaganda from the industry, like green fracking, what a joke.
There are plenty of bans and moratoriums all over the states and the whole world, go to Water Keepers on their Website, there is a long list of it and it gets almost every day longer.
June Jackson; your numbers are almost right only the numbers for the reserves are only estimates and actually production is much smaller because of the fast decline of frack wells. The payment numbers for the landowners are almost right too, only the industry is paying out only after they deduct all their expenses from that percentage, so actual payments are much smaller and no farmer got rich yet, compared if he could have sold the farm when the land was intact and productive.
Who is the government to own the rights for underground resources? WE the public are the government, WE own these rights and WE can say NO to the extraction. People like Paslouski forget the fact or would like to forget that fact.
Wilf Carter; what a joke Green Fracking, where did you get that from? You would believe the propaganda from the very company who tries to use a new unproven technology, rather the research of thousands of qualified scientist and millions of people who got screwed by fracking.
A matter of perspective; yes conventional oil does a lot of damage to the environment but fracking does even more, much more. The issue here is one has to specify before a court of law what exactly has to be looked at and can not just globally argue.
The main goal is to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of fossil fuels and not develop new sources. We should invest that money into alternative energy development. Only political movement will bring change and it needs a lot of political will and courage for the politicians to bring that change.
Yukoner; why do you need to know the names and workplaces of the people who expose the dangers of a development? Is possible that you read "Mein KAMPF" and became a fan of Nazi tactics?
Sandy; Some of these activist may run for political office and show first there intentions and do not hide in the wings till election, like some of the YP politicians do.
Peter Becker; your writing is confusing as usual, when will you hire an editor.

Up 13 Down 6

Wilf Carter on Jan 23, 2015 at 8:22 pm

The fact is green fracking is taking place and this group is looking for any thing to stop it and not present the truth. End of story.

Up 14 Down 6

north_of_60 on Jan 23, 2015 at 5:26 pm

The Whitehorse Trough gas reserves can be developed without fracking. Therefore there should be no logical opposition from the anti-frackers to use local non-fracked gas instead of fracked LNG from the south.

Ask an anti-fracker what they think about using non-fracked local gas and you'll find out what they actually believe behind the greenwashed facade.

Up 8 Down 15

Fed up Yukoner on Jan 23, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Hey Joel, do you ever listen to the news, you know the people that report the facts, folks and the oil people are keeping their eyes on an area in Texas that is experiencing a series of quakes, quite possibly due to fracking, actually very plausible that it is indeed the dastardly deed that is causing it.

Up 16 Down 3

north_of_60 on Jan 23, 2015 at 5:14 pm

The gas reserves in the Whitehorse Trough can be extracted without fracking. Therefore we should expect no opposition to developing those reserves instead of using fracked gas from the south.

Ask any anti-fracker how they feel about developing our local gas without fracking and you will get a more accurate assessment of what they really believe.

Up 15 Down 4

Bobby Bitman on Jan 23, 2015 at 4:36 pm

I also googled jurisdictions that have banned fracking and found what Joel posted. That some counties in California and Texas had banned fracking. New York state has banned it, Germany and France - moratorium, banned.

I really do not appreciate it when people who likely know the truth twist the truth. Such a waste of time. I want more information, not false rhetoric, no matter which side it's coming from. Deslauriers has completely lost all credibility with me. Either he doesn't know what he's talking about. He is bad for his cause either way. If this was coming from a protestor on the street I'd write it off, but not when coming from a leader of an anti-fracking group.

Up 16 Down 14

Peter Becker on Jan 23, 2015 at 3:06 pm

The verdict is one of science and evidence which can help people make up their mind and not do it for them.
Yes, there are disasters in many industrial activities, such as oil & gas drilling. The problem with unconventional extraction is that it replaces a quasi surgical drill or scalpel in conventional spot development quite literally with the jackhammer or sledge hammer in an area rollout of tens of thousands of wells. Matter of course shattering of large shale formations and ensuing pathway chaos also re. new interconnections and shears of pre-existing faults and old wells is the accident.
According to the Society of Petroleum Engineers the rate of casing and pipe failures is higher compared to conventional reservoir extraction. Fracking is also a threat to finances and energy security as huge public and industry internal (check 2013/14 massive balance sheet decline) subsidization is required for super short production cycles. At best there is no useful net energy output, see Charles Hall but also veteran Canadian geologist David Hughes, and end of life drop off is so steep (Barnett Shale, check Energy Policy Forum that have good analysis of industry and government data) that reserve replacement becomes an impossibility.

Up 20 Down 3

Sandy on Jan 23, 2015 at 2:40 pm

@ matter of perspective/risks, excellent points. If Becker and crew are so concerned about public health, safety and the environment, then they should run for political office.

Up 30 Down 15

Yukoner on Jan 23, 2015 at 1:16 pm

I would like to see the names of the people against fracking. Also I'd like to know where they work, how they heat there house and they must all have bikes, snow shoes and dog sleds, right! I'm sure some of them have some nice big houses, toys in their yard and wouldn't give up there SUV they use to drive their bikes down to Riverdale instead of riding down. What a bunch of bull.

Up 21 Down 15

A matter for perspective / risk? on Jan 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm

I don't necessarily support fracking, but I'm struggling to try and understand the big picture. Maybe some of you can help me out?
There are dangerous risks and accidents each and every day related to conventional fossil fuel use and extraction; from drilling, to processing, to transportation, and storage.

1. Around the world, there are routine fires and explosions at oil refineries/drill sites that kill people and impact the environment.
2. Transport trucks carrying fossil fuels on our highways all over Canada routinely crash and kill people and sometimes spill out and impact the environment.
3. Trains carrying fossil fuels sometimes crash, kill people, and impact the environment.
4. Pipelines often break and spew out into the environment.
5. Tanker ships sometimes run aground and spill their contents into oceans and onto sensitive shorelines.
6. Virtually every underground storage tank at some point will leak and spill into the environment, sometimes impacting groundwater and contaminating peoples water supplies…..and there are MILLIONS of tanks around the world.

Since you can pretty much find a gas station anywhere on the planet, just think how wide spread the issues are globally.

My point is, there people that are getting killed and important environments that are being impacted each and every day by fossil fuels. I'm afraid that fracking and the associated risks have been evaluated through the eyes of a political movement, since the movement is silent with respect to discussing ALL risks associated with our fossil fuel addiction. It simply does not make sense. If you are anti-fracking, then you should also be anti fossil fuels, and right now the dialogue in this regard is silent.

Up 23 Down 11

Wilf Carter Not band on fracking. on Jan 23, 2015 at 11:03 am

Some of the areas in the US have not banned fracking period. They can let fracking go ahead using water because of a very short supply of fresh water. But the new techniques of Green Fracking is changing all that where water is not used. Go look at GasFrac from Calgary as one example.

Up 9 Down 16

Yukon Government holds the rights to Oil and gas development on Jan 23, 2015 at 10:59 am

Because oil and gas is below the surface of the earth the Yukon Government holds the rights by transfer from the Federal Government. That is why they can come onto your land and drill.

Up 13 Down 27

June Jackson on Jan 22, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Fracking and money...The following is a quote from Liberty Street Economics.

" Over the last decade, the use of unconventional methods like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) have dramatically increased recoverable domestic oil and gas resources. The dollar value of potential production is significant. In 2011, the Energy Information Administration estimated that major shale formations contained $3.5 trillion dollars of gas at prevailing prices. Similarly, the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that the Bakken shale alone contains over $250 billion dollars of oil. However, in order to extract these resources drillers must first lease mineral rights from local landowners. Typically, these leases pay landowners 10 to 25 percent of the production from the well, so the lease payments from these formations could exceed $750 billion. " I can't even imagine what the Banks are making out of this.

Today, people are concerned about our environment... they understand when there is a drought in the San Joaquin Valley it means we either pay 100% increases in the price of fruit and vegetables or go without. The near extinction of the Monarch butterfly alerted people to the fact that earths pollinators are in grave danger. I could go on, but I think the point is made.

These days, people want more than money. Especially in the Yukon. People want to and do enjoy the wonders of the land, get involved in protecting our wild life. We don't like it when the Government kills our animals indiscriminately.. and.. we don't want the fallout that fracking brings.

The governments, not just Canada, but everywhere, have made bad choices over the years, permitted whole government sectors, (in Canada it would be the Senate) to waste and mismanage or out and out steal tax payer money. To our politicians, who have put a million people a month in Canada at food banks, who have less than 69% of the population in their own home, who have the highest taxes in North America and offer 3rd world health care, that kind of money just can't be ignored because people want clean air, clean water and pristine wilderness. In 50 years if not sooner, the north will be the last stronghold for wildlife, for clean living, clean air and water. I don't want to see it destroyed now. That is the legacy Yukoner's leave their children.

Frankly..I am old and poor and I don't know what I'd do if someone said..hey..I'll give you $750 BILLION dollars for this teensy little piece of land.. or a TRILLION dollars for half of the piece. I'd like to think I'd hang on to my integrity. but..that's a lot of "fracking" money (pun intended).

Up 30 Down 15

Joel on Jan 22, 2015 at 5:24 pm

“We don’t need more research,” he insisted. “The verdict is already in.”
Sounds like FrackFree Yukon has already made the decision for everyone. I was looking for the "vast majority" phrase next but couldn't find it in this article for once. Oops, found it now.....
“France, Germany, Quebec, California, Texas, Hawaii, are just some of the big players who have chosen to ban fracking on their territory.”

Now for spin....1 small town in Texas banned fracking in town limits (There are currently 275 fracked wells in that town, none of which have had any problems)
5 cities in California have banned fracking in city limits. Santa Barbara county voted down the ban.
There is a moratorium in Germany. This would be the same as the Whitehorse Trough currently.
France has banned fracking anywhere in the country.
There is no oil and gas reserves in Hawaii so no issues either way there.
There is a ban on fracking in Quebec.
There is also a ban on fracking in New York State which they missed.

If you are going to complain about organizations using false or deceiving information, you might want to stop using it yourselves.

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