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B.C. government announces panel members for scientific review of fracking

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall answers a question by Skeena MLA Ellis Ross in the Legislature in November. Photo by BC Legislature
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VICTORIA, B.C. — Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall announced this morning that the provincial government is moving forward on condocting an independent scientific review of hydraulic fracturing.

Mungall said the review will be done to ensure that fracking in B.C. is meeting the highest safety and environmental standards, and will be carried out by a three-member independent panel consisting of a professor of hydrogeology, a geological engineering professor and a geological engineer and geophysicist.

The three panellists are: Diana M. Allen, P. Geo, a professor in the department of earth sciences at Simon Fraser University; Erik Eberhardt, P. Eng, a professor of rock mechanics and rock engineering, and the director of the geological engineering program at the University of British Columbia; and Amanda Bustin, PhD, a research associate at the University of British Columbia and the president of Bustin Earth Science Consultants. Nalaine Morin will provide advice to the panel on traditional Indigenous knowledge.

“Protecting our air, land and water is central to our government’s direction of sustainably developing the province’s resources and creating jobs for British Columbians,” said Mungall in a statement Thursday. “We know British Columbians have questions about hydraulic fracturing. It’s our job to make sure that natural gas operations continue to meet world-class standards and best practices for environmental protection. The scientific panel will look at the process of hydraulic fracturing used to extract B.C.’s natural gas, review our regulations and provide recommendations to minimize risks to the environment.”

The appointment of the panel follows Mungall’s announcement last fall that the government intended to conduct a science-based review of the fracking process. During a debate on her Ministry’s budget last November, Mungall was asked by Skeena MLA Ellis Ross whether the government intended to impose a moratorium on fracking either during or after the review, Mungall essentially ruled out a moratorium.

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In a release, Ministry spokesperson Suntanu Dalal said the panel will look at the role of hydraulic fracturing as it relates to induced seismicity and its impacts on water quantity and quality. It will also look into fugitive methane emissions that may occur during the fracking process.

“The panel will be hearing presentations and collecting scientific evidence from organizations and experts, as well as traditional Indigenous knowledge from First Nations,” said the release. “Information and evidence will also be collected from academics, industry associations, northeast B.C. communities, Treaty 8 First Nations and environmental organizations.”

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The Ministry said the panel will report its findings to Mungall before the end of the year.

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