Groups call for shale gas inquiry

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Several groups across B.C. are calling for a public inquiry into the shale gas industry.

The Tap Water Alliance, along with the Wilderness Committee, the Council of Canadians, Sierra Club of B.C., Georgia Strait Alliance, and Dogwood initiative are all calling for the inquiry. The formal requests were sent to Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman, Environment Minister Terry Lake, and Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson, as well as all MLAs.

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The groups state that it is important to look into both the environmental and social implications of shale gas exploration, particularly with regards to new extraction techniques, particularly fracking.

They cite the fact that other Canadian provinces and various U.S. states are already launching public inquiries and believe B.C. should also launch its own inquiry.

The B.C. government should consider emulating other governments and look into the potential health and environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing, says Ben West, spokesperson for Western Canada Wilderness Committee.

West says it would be up to the Province to create a transparent and fair process, including third-party nonbiased experts who could examine the impacts of the shale gas industry.

He says the groups recognize the significant contributions the oil and gas industry make to the Province and the number of jobs the industry creates.

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At this point, West says there are a lot of unknowns, including exactly how much water is being use, as well as the mixture of chemicals used for fracking. He also says that despite the shale gas industry being a strong economic driver for the Province, people also need to consider their health.

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Quebec recently imposed a partial moratorium in place banning further shale gas developments until more information is gathered.

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