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Occupy NS Asks the Community to Join Them in Efforts to Ban Fracking

Information session, rallies planned

by Emily Driscoll

Occupy NS Asks the Community to Join Them in Efforts to Ban Fracking

Occupy Nova Scotia, in conjunction with environmental organizations and activists, has planned a fracking information session Thursday, January 5th , 6:30 – 8:30 PM at the Halifax North Branch library on Gottingen Street. In addition, a Provincial Day of Action Against Fracking rally will take place on Saturday, January 14th at 1:00 pm, Grand Parade Square followed by a march. A second rally, on the same day, will take place in Cape Breton at the Rotary by the Causeway from 11am to 1pm. For more information and updates, visit the No Fracking Way! Provincial Day of Action Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/events/257044674356945/).

“Fracking”, short for hydraulic fracturing, has become one of the forefront issues of environmental welfare here in the Maritimes. Essentially, fracking is a method of extracting natural gases from deep within the ground, becoming more and more popular with oil and shale gas drilling companies.

In order to extract the natural gases, a well is drilled deep within the earth’s surface in shale or coal beds. Millions of gallons of water, sand and harmful chemicals are then blasted into the well at an extremely high pressure, forming cracks that allow the gas to be released to the surface. Fracking is sometimes cited as “greener alternative” to traditional energy extraction methods by the government and companies involved in the process, despite the outcry of experts and environmental activist groups throughout North America. Vertical drilling methods can go as far as over a kilometre below the surface – well past the water table, putting many residents’ drinking water at a significant risk of contamination.

Fracking not only has the potential to damage water, putting ecosystems and human health at risk, but also requires the extraction of immense supplies of fresh water from local lakes for injection purposes.  Harmful chemicals used in the fracking process, like methane, benzene (a known human carcinogen) and biocides can leak into the ground, into water supplies, and evaporate into the air. The diesel trucks needed to transport millions of litres of water and chemicals to the fracking site alone are enough to increase greenhouse gas emissions and further pollute the air of communities in which fracking is done. A study led by Theo Colburn studied the effects of 353 chemicals used in natural gas drilling and fracturing throughout the U.S. on human health.  She found twelve areas of concern including adverse effects on the brain and nervous system, respiratory health, endocrine disruption, cancer, mutations and skin, eye, and sensory organs, documented in her 2010 paper Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective.

Despite public outcry and no effort on behalf of the government or oil companies to consult with indigenous communities whose land is affected by fracking, investigation permits for potential shale gas drilling operations have been granted to Elmworth Energy, the Canadian Imperial Venture Corp and others. Many worry this will lead to the development of fracking operations, which are already underway in New Brunswick and P.E.I. The fracking debate in Sussex, New Brunswick boiled over when it was discovered Windsor Energy Corp violated municipal regulations when it conducted seismic testing without permission.

The recent government approval for Petroworth to drill an exploratory well near Lake Ainslie in Cape Breton has sparked public outcry and many worry the company may have plans to begin fracking there, which is supported by many officials who believe economic benefits outweigh the risks.  The Margaree Environmental Association filed an appeal under the Environmental Protection Act urging environment minister Sterling Belliveau to repeal the permit, which he rejected in late December. The organization has now set a court appeal in motion in attempt to revoke Petroworth’s permit to establish a test well for drilling.

Please join Occupy NS for an fracking information session Thursday, January 5th , 6:30 – 8:30 PM at the Halifax North Branch library on Gottingen Street. In addition, a Provincial Day of Action Against Fracking rally will take place on Saturday, January 14th at 1:00 pm, Grand Parade Square followed by a march.

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Topics: Environment
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