Union of BC Municipalities delegates Sept. 14 rejected a call for government to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, the energy industry’s process to extract oil and gas in areas where underground resources can’t be accessed by conventional drilling.
The practice, also known as fracking, is used heavily in the province’s northeastern Peace region as well as in Alberta.
North Saanich Mayor Alice Finall told delegates the moratorium was needed because the process contaminates millions of litres of water that is then sequestered in the ground.
She said seismic activity possibly caused by fracking could cause the release of that contaminated water to the environment.
The resolution before UBCM delegates called for a moratorium on fracking until it is proven safe.
District of Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser said the UBCM should wait for more information.
“The province has a scientific review panel looking at this,” Fraser said. “Let’s look at that report before we make a decision.”
Dawson Creek is a centre for energy activity in the Peace region.
City Coun. Shaely Wilbur asked delegates to look at the importance of the practice.
“Water is reused,” she said. “It’s the only way to get it out of the ground. It’s a consumer-use product.”
Vancouver Coun. Adrianne Carr, however, supported Finall.
“The science is clear that there are these negative impacts . . . regarding water, regarding seismic activity, regarding toxicity,” she said.
The BC Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC), which regulates fracking, has identified waste-water disposal and fracking as causes of seismic activity.
“Both activities introduce pressure under the Earth’s surface, which may trigger a seismic event,” the BCOGC website says. “None of the events that have taken place in B.C. have resulted in any property damage or hazards to safety or the environment.”
Some delegates questioned why the resolution has returned to the UBCM when similar suggestions have been rejected before.
The issue has been controversial worldwide. Quebec said in June it was banning the practice province-wide. It is also banned in the Maritimes and Yukon.