A local advocate for clean drinking water is calling on the provincial government to ban the high-pressure rock-splitting process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”.
Will Koop, coordinator of the B.C. Tap Water Alliance, told the Straight his citizens’ group wants to put a stop to this industrial technique, which involves the injection of water and additives into the ground to extract natural gas. The group’s Web site states that it aims “to help advocate the end of impairing and poisoning North America’s and the Earth’s fresh water aquifers by the oil & gas industry complex”.
“So, there are a number of people in the United States who are calling for a ban on fracking because of this,” Koop said. “And that’s what we’re calling for as well.”
He added, “What it does is it injects with high volumes of water with chemicals; it’s allowed to punch through what otherwise would be very difficult to do. What this procedure does, aside from the use of toxics, it compromises the integrity of aquifer caverns.”
Jake Jacobs, spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, denied the Straight an interview with Minister Blair Lekstrom.
Lois Hill, a board member for the citizens’ group Peace Environment and Safety Trustees, doesn’t necessarily agree with a ban.
“I would probably ask for more transparency and regulation before I would ask for a complete outright ban on fracking,” Hill told the Straight by phone from her home in Farmington in northeastern B.C. “We’re not against developing the gas fields, but we want to be safe. The way it stands right now, the companies are not required—they are protected by law and not required—to divulge what is in frack fluids.”
Koop said that B.C.’s government, like those in the U.S., is fixated on revenue from the oil and gas sector.
“Our position is that this is irrelevant, because no one should tolerate the use and application of chemical poisons into freshwater systems,” he said.
Mike Dawson, president of the Canadian Society for Unconventional Gas, did not return the Straight’s call by deadline.