No fracking way

After a harsh public outcry and a series of environmental debates, fracking is now banned in Nova Scotia.
The heated issue caught the attention of many, including university student Liv Bochenek.
She’s studying sustainability and political science, and developed an interest in the anti-fracking movement after learning about the science backing environmental groups.
“The climate impact is incredibly important. The methane that often seeps out has a damaging effect and the water table can be seriously compromised,” she said.
Fracking is a process where oil and natural gas gets extracted through drilling into bedrock, creating cracks that release the gas into collection wells. A combination of chemicals, sand and water being pumped into the ground is needed to drill deep.
With each fracking job, millions of litres of foreign material are used to create these openings.
This is where two sides were butting heads.
Those for the process insisted there were jobs to be made. Those against worried about the effects on the environment and health.
Reports even said the digging of wells causes minor earthquakes.
Public interest grew in 2012 as groups like Sierra Club Canada, the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition and Sustainability King’s organized petitions and encouraged residents to get involved.
In response, the NDP government called a moratorium on the practice, disallowing any approval of fracking projects for two years.
The Wheeler report, led by David Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University, is the result of six months of research covering all areas of the issue at hand. Fracking was evaluated from many different angles and perspectives, including many facets of science, public health, industry and economics.
During the summer, public meetings were held around the province, allowing more than 1,200 Nova Scotians to attend and provide community input for the study.
Bochenek attended 10 of the 11 meetings. “They included studies on indigenous land rights, which is incredibly important here in Nova Scotia,” she said. “The panel was also quite diverse for something of this nature and the results were so much more than we ever could have hoped for.”
Ultimately, the report said the government should think carefully about fracking and added Nova Scotia wasn’t ready for fracking. Energy Minister Andrew Younger took their advice seriously and on Sept. 3 he announced a ban on hydraulic fracturing.
“This is a big win for the climate movement, because in general there is so much opposition,” said Bochenek. “It’s a huge step in terms of shifting the economy from something fossil fuel based to something more community run with focus on renewable resources.”
While fracking is illegal, there are still other natural gas projects being carried out in the province.
Bochenek said, “The main thing is, people put so much pressure on the government by voicing their opinions, and that played a huge part in letting the government know that they can’t just push things like that through without consulting the communities.”

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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