Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Is the AB Gov't Copying the U.S. Con Job over Fracking?

Is the Alberta government copying the U.S. federal government under G.W. Bush, in which the gas fracking process bypassed U.S. environmental and health standards and the American public was left in the dark? All the Alberta government can claim is that it makes transparent the hundreds of toxic chemicals used in the fracking process, and that yet there is no legislative requirement for disclosure of the chemicals. Also, what's the point of making transparent the toxins in the fracking process if the AB government turns a blind eye to the process from environmental and health standpoints? What is the point of being transparent about AB political contributions if the AB government allows electoral contributions which favor significantly minority and special interests? The problem with the AB government is that it benefits via tax dollars through promoting gas development of Alberta and through political contributions from gas corporations. Are Albertans paying a price for having the same party run the province for forty plus years?

Are Albertans really informed about fracking and its threat to drinking water and the environment including wildlife? If you are not, watch this documentary as an introduction:

This important documentary by Josh Fox focuses on the gas boom in the United States from 2005 onward, in which public health and environmental protection are overshadowed by mega profits in the oil and gas sectors including by the Canadian oil and gas company Encana Corporation. The documentary exposes US federal environmental legislation altered for the benefit of the oil and gas sector, silencing of the US Environmental Protection Agency and its scientists, censorship by major media, and an uninformed public. (Interestingly, there are online rebuffs of this documentary, similar to the rebuffs of global warming by scientists paid by the oil and gas sector.) This documentary is only one example of the failings of western democracies, in which minority interests supersede the interests of people as a whole.

Thomas Mulcair's oilpatch 'con job' jab draws ire in Alberta
NPD leader's 'rhetoric won't be tolerated'
By Kelly Cryderman, Calgary Herald And Canadian Press

Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair found himself in another battle with the energy industry and Alberta on Monday after accusing the country's main oil and gas lobby group of "pulling a con job" when it comes to explaining the rules governing shale gas fracking.

However, the industry says it's been transparent on the issue, while Alberta deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk said Mulcair's newest remarks "are purely politically motivated" and not grounded in fact.

"I clearly have told him to keep his rhetoric away from Alberta because his kind of politically motivated commentary simply will not be tolerated in this province," Lukaszuk said Monday.

"What he's doing is tapping into matters that he perceives to be concerns. He's tapping into concerns for political gain."

Speaking in New Brunswick in the lead up to a byelection in the Saint Johnarea, Mulcair said a representative from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers(CAPP) tried to make it sound like the rules around hydraulic fracturing are tougher than they actually are.

Fracking involves injecting water with sand and chemicals under high pressure underground, to allow trapped gases to flow.

The process has been around for decades, but its use is expected to ramp up significantly in provinces such as B.C., Alberta and New Brunswick, as deep shale gas reserves are tapped.

CAPP "gave me a lovely brochure, colour, glossy, explaining that they had a policy that all companies doing fracking had to reveal the contents of the fracking fluid," Mulcair said Sunday.

"I said, 'But the companies aren't doing that.' You know what they said? 'Well, we can't force them, they're just our members.'
"That representative of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers was out here pulling a con job, trying to make people believe that somehow they were regulating, somehow they had rules that were going to mean something."

Mulcair also called on the energy industry to tell the public what's in the fluids used for fracking.

"If you think that your method of getting to that gas is safe, why won't you reveal the contents of the fracking fluid?" he said. "Because that fracking fluid contains known carcinogens and other very dangerous substances."

Responding to Mulcair's charges, CAPP said it's been clear about its industry guidelines, which encourage producers to use additives with the least environmental risks, protect groundwater, and disclose fracking fluid additives.

"Our operating practises are clearly not regulations," said CAPP policy and environment vice-president Tom Huffaker.

But Huffaker said the association also supports mandatory disclosure being written into provincial regulations.

"We're in complete agreement with Mr. Mulcair on that. We're with him on fracking fluids needing to be disclosed," Huffaker said.

"We think transparency in this area is important. The public is concerned about it."

In Edmonton, Lukaszuk agreed some people are concerned about fracking, "but information is available and CAPP is not in the business of misleading Albertans."

The deputy premier added that anyone "can receive accurate information on what is going on, what liquids are being used, and what the outcomes are."

Alberta's energy regulator, the Energy Resources Conservation Board, currently collects information on the injection fluids used by companies during fracking. The board will make fracking liquid disclosures widely available to the public by the end of this year.

Mulcair's comments come just over a week after he toured Alberta's oilsands and met with Lukaszuk. At the time, the NDP leader said he was surprised at the size of the operations and left determined to ensure it gets cleaned up.

He's also traded barbs with western premiers after saying the region's booming energy sector was hurting other parts of Canada's economy by driving up the dollar - a phenomenon known as Dutch disease.


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