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August 17 2012

22:02

Just 2% of Canadians Deny Climate Change Occurring, Poll Finds

Originally published on EnergyBoom.com

A recent survey conducted by Insightrix Research, Inc. has found that only 2% of Canadians believe climate change is not taking place.

The online poll, commissioned by IPAC CO2 Research Inc., a Saskatchewan-based center studying carbon capture and storage, asked respondents where they stood on the issue of climate change.

32% of participants said they believe climate change is occurring as a result of human activity, and 54% said they believe climate change is happening because of a combination of human activity and natural variation.  Meanwhile, 9% believe climate change is the result of the natural climate cycle.  Far in the minority were respondents (2%) that believed climate change is a hoax.

Conversely, in the United States climate denial represents a much larger chunk of the population, as a recent survey shows. 15% of Americans believe climate change is not occurring.

Much like the United States, Canadians' opinions on climate change vary depending on the region.  The Insightrix survey found that residents in the Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba) are least likely to believe humans are changing the climate, while those living in the Maritimes, Quebec, and British Columbia are most likely to hold the belief. 

Almost half (44%) of respondents in Quebec believe anthropogenic climate change is happening, while only 21% of participants in Alberta and Saskatchewan hold the same belief.

This regional divide also exists in regard to fossil fuel consumption.  66% of Albertan respondents believe fossil fuels will be used for electricity production in 2050, while only 37% of Quebecers held the same belief.  Across the country, 51% of Canadians believe fossil fuels will still be used for electricity in 2050.

Carmen Dybwad, CEO of IPAC CO2 Research, said:  "Our survey indicates Canadians from coast to coast overwhelmingly believe climate change is real and is occurring, at least in part due to human activity."

Image credit: ItzaFineDay via Flickr

June 30 2011

21:22

Canada Causes Cancer: Government & Industry Collude to Keep Asbestos Off UN Hazardous Chemical List

Last week, the Canadian government successfully and unilaterally stonewalled efforts to list chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical at a United Nations conference in Switzerland. 

According to Michael Stanley-Jones of the UN Environment Program, “[Canada] intervened in the chemicals contact group meeting ... and opposed listing". This is the third time that Canada has derailed efforts to list the deadly mineral under the Rotterdam Convention.

Following Canada's lead, the only countries that opposed listing asbestos under the convention were Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam. Even India, one of Canada's largest asbestos customers and the leader behind efforts at COP 4 against listing, changed its stance.

Asbestos is a potent carcinogen, and is known to cause pleural plaques, asbestosis, mesothelioma, as well as cancers of the lung, esophagus, and colon. For over 100 years, scientific evidence has demonstrated the dangers of asbestos.

Canada is the only advanced industrialized country that exports asbestos, and does so predominantly to the developing world where there are few health and safety standards. The Canadian position is widely considered hypocritical because the country exports a mineral banned in domestic construction, and have spent millions ridding parliamentary buildings in Ottawa of the toxic substance, all while lobbying extensively to ensure that asbestos remains unregulated. 

The centre of controversy currently is a new asbestos mine proposed in Quebec that would export 5 million pounds of asbestos to Asia.

How can Canada conscionably export cancer-causing asbestos to the developing world given the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating that asbestos is carcinogenic? The key to that question lies in an extensive government and industry-backed lobbying and misinformation campaign that operates on an international scale, with Canada at its centre.

Like Big Tobacco did years before with the Council for Tobacco Research, the Montreal-based Asbestos Institute was founded in 1984 amidst growing opposition to the industry and its health implications. Asbestos had such a bad rap that the industry chose to fight tooth and nail to salvage its profits by spending millions on misinformation and to fight bans. The asbestos industry colluded with the Canadian government in an effort to use various means to pressure, threaten, and intimidate Brazil, Chile, France, Lebanon, South Africa and South Korea not to regulate or label asbestos as hazardous. 

In 2003, recognizing that it was increasingly difficult to peddle a known carcinogen, the Asbestos Institute was rebranded to drop the key word that the public recognized as dangerous and deadly.  The Chrysotile Institute (CI) was born with a mandate to market chrysotile asbestos as safer, and to suggest that it was not carcinogenic like amphibole asbestos. Though 95% of the world's asbestos is chrysotile, industry figured the name sounded safer - sort of like Big Tobacco did with "light" cigarettes. Still deadly, just slightly less so, and the profits keep flowing. Instead of recognizing that the product is too dangerous, the industry and government simply engaged in image control.

The Chrysotile Institute alleges that chrysotile asbestos can be used safely and responsibily, and that it can be broken down and eradicated from the body. Industry-backed lab rat studies allege that chrysotile asbestos does not cause cancer. This directly contravenes prevailing scientific literature from the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the Canadian Cancer Society, all of which argue there is no way to use asbestos safely.

The Chrysotile Institute's go-to "expert" is David Bernstein, who has received funding from the Canadian government, Chrysotile Institute, Union Carbide and Georgia Pacific in addition to the Brazilian asbestos institute. In fact, Bernstein has been accused of mispresenting his credentials, and is apparently not qualified as an epidemiologist, industrial hygienist, medical doctor, or pathologist, and not a single scientific body anywhere agrees with his views.

Despite these inconvenient facts about the industry's favorite expert for hire, his talking points are parroted widely as fact. Even Dimitri Soudas, Harper's communications director, argues that "All scientific reviews clearly confirm that chrysotile fibres can be used safely under controlled conditions”.

In reality, only industry-funded studies suggest that chrysotile asbestos does not cause cancer. The Chrysotile Institute's stance reads like a page out of the big tobacco playbook: defer responsibility, create doubt, and encourage inaction. Doubt truly is their product, only in this case, it is developing and poor countries that will bear the true costs of the misery that is being exported by Canada.

The federal government funds the Chrysotile Institute to the tune of $250,000 annually to lobby on behalf of the asbestos industry, and the Quebec government matches that.  Since its inception, it has received over $50 million in public funds. The group maintains that they promote the safe use of asbestos, and work to track regulatory developments relating to asbestos around the world.

Rather than promoting the safe use of asbestos abroad, the Chrysotile Institute is at the centre of the global lobbying effort of the asbestos industry. According to a report from International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the institute funds a dozen sister organizations around the world. These organizations then influence science and policy in their own countries. ICIJ tracked $100 million in public and private money spent since the mid 1980s in Brazil, Canada, and India, all to keep asbestos on the market.

The Chrysotile Institute also insist that they promote the “controlled” use of asbestos and the adoption of appropriate safety measures. But it’s not an accurate picture of the industry by any means. Reporting by the Globe and Mail and ICIJ found inadequate protection measures and widespread exposure to asbestos dust.

Now, to return to the question of the new asbestos mine that would export 5 million tonnes of asbestos to Asia. Quebec’s Economic Development Minister Clement Gignac is championing the government’s decision to expand the mine. A 2004 Institut National de Santé Publique (INSPQ) report found rates of mesothelioma among men in Quebec nearly 10 times greater than for the rest of Canada and the rate for women to be among the highest in the world. It is also believed that asbestos disease is under-reported.

Not only is Canada's asbestos killing Canadians, it is killing people in the developing world. For the 400 jobs that the asbestos industry creates, why is Canada risking its international reputation and the health of millions to export cancer to the developing world? Will it move forward with a toxic mine, or follow the prevailing scientific evidence and help curb a worldwide epidemic of painful lung diseases and cancers?

April 21 2011

23:43

New Brunswick Energy Commission Recommends Expanding Unconventional Gas Development Despite Fracking Threat To Climate

The New Brunswick Energy Commission released its Public Feedback Document on the province’s 10-year energy policy plan earlier this week. Despite recent public outcry and growing scientific concern about threats to drinking water, health and the global climate posed by fracked unconventional gas, the Energy Commission recommends continuing to develop heavily polluting dirty gas, contradicting both renewable energy and carbon emission reduction goals.

The province’s Premier asked the Energy Commission’s co-Chairs William Thompson and Jeannot Volpé to engage with the public on the province’s energy future beginning in October 2010. Today’s document was developed from more than 1,400 completed surveys submitted online, over 200 public dialogue attendee surveys, more than 60 stakeholder group meetings and some 75 public presentations.

The health risks and environmental degradation (like pollution and overuse of freshwater) that comes with unconventional shale gas extracted through hydraulic fracturing (fracking) are increasingly well known. The Commissioners, regrettably, are still fully supportive of rapidly expanding this dirty gas drilling boom as an economic asset and development tool, stating:<!--break-->

Because of its competitive cost, availability, and low environmental impact, natural gas should be considered the key transition fuel as we move from using other traditional fuels toward more renewable energy sources. Natural gas should be promoted to increase its use by consumers.

Unconventional gas extraction and use is promoted by the government as an economic silver bullet, and national and international oil and gas companies are already jumping into the province feet first, betting that this gas rush will deliver massive profits for years to come.

But how “clean” is this gas really? How can the N.B. government talk about the “low environmental impact” of unconventional gas when nearly everyday we learn more about how dirty and unsafe fracked gas truly is?

New Brunswick is emerging as a key battleground since it is believed to hold North America’s largest shale gas reserves [PDF]. Moreover, New Brunswick may also connect the Maritimes and Northeast Pipelines with the TransCanada Pipeline in Québec, growing gas exports to other provinces and to the U.S. in regular, compressed and liquid forms.

The Commissioners also recommend, in contrast with the call for shale gas expansion, expanding regional environmental protections, establishing targets for addressing climate change, and expanding renewable energies like solar, wind and tidal power. Achieving these goals will become much more difficult as more government support and public resources are devoted to unconventional gas exploitation.

According to the report, the public remains concerned over the lack of factual information around their energy options and how their energy decisions may have global impacts. Shale gas is methane intensive, a much more potent global warming gas than carbon dioxide, and therefore its exploitation in New Brunswick is expected to worsen global warming.  This would counteract the province’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from other sources.

Raphael Shay, Climate and Energy Coordinator at Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB Action), points out that the province must review the climate implications of an unconventional gas boom before expanding gas drilling.

“As we have seen from the floods, storm surges and rising costs of food, New Brunswick is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change…”

“We cannot afford to brush this issue under the rug. Our emission targets are already extremely low compared to what scientists are recommending. It is urgent that the Minister have her staff analyse the impact shale gas development will have on our climate targets as industry resumes its exploration activities this Spring.”

New Brunswick decision-makers should expand renewable energy use, bolsters climate pollution reduction targets, and follow the lead of their counterparts in putting the brakes on dirty gas fracking.

Opposition to unconventional gas drilling, particularly the fracking method, is growing across North America. In Québec, the public has turned against the gas industry, and fracking bans have been passed in Maryland and proposed in New Jersey. Additionally, a permanent ban was proposed last week in New York.

There is a public protest against dirty gas set for April 27th, 2011, in Rogersville, New Brunswick, at an open house organized by U.S. oil and gas conglomerate Southwestern Energy Co. (a.k.a. SWN Resources in Canada).

Additional feedback may be submitted by e-mail to the New Brunswick Energy Commission at energycommission@gnb.ca, until May 6. As well, public input on any of the initial 49 recommendations included in the Public Feedback Document, and particularly gas resources, may be submitted here.

Read the New Brunswick Energy Commission’s Public Feedback Document in English [PDF] and French [PDF].

April 05 2011

11:45

There Goes The Neighbourhood: China Rushes To Develop Shale Gas At Home And Abroad

To satisfy its thirst for energy, China is very quickly becoming a big player in the shale gas industry. Unfortunately, whether at home or abroad, there also seems to be little concern from Chinese leadership for the destructive environmental impact of drilling for heavily polluting shale gas – which is often drilled for using the controversial hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) method.

Domestically: Investing in shale gas in China
China’s National Energy Administration is quickly working to draft a plan to develop the country’s shale gas reserves, which are estimated at more than 10 times its conventional gas reserves.

Early in 2010, China’s Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) set a target for the country to identify 50-80 shale gas areas and 20-30 exploration and development blocks by 2020. Moreover, the MLR’s Strategic Research Centre for Oil and Gas wants to produce 8-12% of China's gas from shale wells by 2020.

State-controlled PetroChina (a.k.a. China National Petroleum Corporation) announced its intention to produce 500 million cubic meters of shale gas by 2015 and Sinopec Corporation also wants to exploit some 2.5 billion cubic meters of shale gas and coalbed methane in that time. Already, Royal Dutch Shell is drilling 17 gas wells, for both tight gas and shale gas, and plans to spend $1 billion a year over the next five years on shale gas in China.
<!--break-->
Internationally: Investing in shale gas across the Pacific
China is rushing to become an important player in securing international gas exports, particularly in Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia (BC). China has found an eager partner in BC which supports a booming shale gas industry with its lax oversight of shale operations, its public servants who are opposed to receiving outside advice and as of several weeks ago a new provincial leader who takes her advice from a shale gas baron who is a former EnCana Corporation CEO. Let us not forget that this gas will also sell in Asia for as much as three times its price in Canada.

Michael McCullough writes that the state-controlled China Daily reported that Chinese producers are scouring the globe for gas reserves “to reduce reliance on coal and satisfy [China's] energy hunger to fuel its economy…”

In February, PetroChina invested some $5.4 billion into EnCana’s Cutbank Ridge project, which was the largest investment by a Chinese state–controlled firm in Canada. EnCana CEO Randy Eresman said: "In the longer term, they have expressed a desire to be involved in the North American LNG market…”

Only a couple of weeks ago, partners in the proposed Kitimat LNG facility at Bish Cove on BC’s north coast awarded the engineering and design contract to take gas from pipelines and turn it into a liquid for marine transport to notorious former Halliburton subsidiary KBR.

The President of Kitimat LNG, Janine McArdle, described this announcement’s importance for Asia, saying: “This is another important milestone for Kitimat LNG, taking us a significant step closer in being able to export LNG to Asia-Pacific markets as soon as 2015.” 

Now, a second LNG export facility north of the one at Bish is being proposed.

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) has twice advised the BC government that shale gas drilling is incompatible with legislated carbon emission reductions. These concerns, however, continue to fall on deaf ears as the promises of fossil fuel company’s investments are taking precedence. China’s shale expansion only aggravates the difficulty of protecting the natural environment from fossil fuel expansion.

Where to from here?

The scale of development and the rapid growth of this polluting fossil fuel risk many of China’s climate change action goals and its claims on environmentally friendly development. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that huge amounts of global warming pollution are produced in the extraction of shale gas, on par with coal emissions. The EPA is also conducting an extensive study of fracking. The preliminary findings from this investigation are expected at the end of 2012, with final results in 2014. Recently, the New York Times has also drawn much attention to the dangers that fracking poses to human health and freshwater, through its series Drilling Down.

At home in China, decisionmakers would do well to examine the contamination threats and other problems experienced by their North American counterparts before rushing to exploit shale gas. The health and environmental risks from shale gas development and fracking have led New Jersey to ban fracking outright, and Maryland’s House has passed a full shale gas moratorium until 2013. In Canada, the province of Québec has banned fracking for at least two years.

Environmental advocates should be wary about China moving into BC and elsewhere to secure and invest in shale gas projects. While in the short term the economy may benefit from foreign investment, in the long run, more pipelines will mean greater dependence on fossil fuels.  Turning a blind eye to their destructive influence on the climate would leave China in the same troubling position that Canada and the U.S. now find themselves in, with no adequate clean energy policy and no effective response to climate change.

Shale gas is hardly an energy "solution" - in fact it creates a host of climate-altering and water-threatening risks - so China should reexamine the wisdom of pursuing this dirty fuel.

March 25 2011

17:19

Maryland House Votes For Moratorium On Shale Gas Development And Fracking

Maryland’s House of Representatives voted 98-40 for HB 852, a de-facto moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and Marcellus Shale drilling in the western part of the state. The bill passed the House after five amendments attempting to block it were handily rejected.

Known as the Maryland Shale Safe Drilling Act of 2011, the legislation seeks to restrict shale gas development and the dangerous drilling method of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) until 2013 and the completion of a major two-year drinking water and environmental impact assessment.

Jessie Thomas-Blate of American Rivers, an environmental conservation group, notes that the risky fracking process creates a very briny wastewater that could potentially contaminate nearby drinking water supplies permanently.

As Thomas-Blate points out, "If you contaminate people's water, you can't go back." <!--break-->

Marcellus Shale drilling has already begun in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia – but not in Maryland. And since 2008, gas drilling interests have eagerly filed permits with the Department of the Environment seeking to exploit the shale deposits in the state’s Allegany and Garrett counties.

Chairwoman of the Maryland House Environmental Matters Committee, Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore), rightly describes the urgent need for this fracking moratorium:

“Drilling in the Marcellus Shale is not like drilling for natural gas in any other form that we have known…We’ve got a lot of questions to answer.”

Earlier in March, the Town Council for the western Maryland town of Mountain Lake Park voted unanimously to ban the drilling of new gas wells within the small town of 2,100 residents.

Working with The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), the town created a Community Bill of Rights for Mountain Lake Park that “removes legal powers from gas extraction corporations within the town.”

Mayor Leo Martin describes his town’s decision:

“The people have rights.  Corporations can’t be licensed to take them away.  Our town government is responsible for the health, safety, and rights our citizens. When the county, state, and federal governments fail in their duties it is our duty to take action.”

The risks that come with dirty gas drilling and fracking in particular are of deep concern to Maryland residents. In 2008, speculators promised the moon to Garrett County landowner Dennis Buckel and his neighbours to allow gas drilling on their land. While waiting for the state to decide on the permitting, Buckel and others heard about what happened to Craig and Julie Sautner in Dimock, Pennsylvania, who had accepted the gas companies’ tempting offers.

Recently the Sautners’ claimed in a federal lawsuit that “they developed skin rashes and nearly passed out while showering because of fumes in the water.” With some 100 wells dug in their community and surrounding area, residents were suddenly able to light their tap water on fire.

Julie Sautner describes the plight of her family and that of her neighbours brought on by gas drilling:

“Farmers who think that this is an easy way out, it's absolutely not. You're trading your health and your water. We can't move. Nobody wants to buy our house."

Now Buckel and other Maryland residents are understandably concerned about their own properties and health if they were to allow gas drilling:

"We need to know what's in that fracking fluid…Sure we'd like to have the lease, but we don't want to mess up the water."

A great deal of momentum is building against shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing since last year’s release of the film Gasland which depicted many families facing a similar situation to the Buckel’s.

Additionally a recent New York Times investigative series Drilling Down has also drawn more attention to the dangers of current gas drilling practices in the Marcellus Shale region. Importantly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also in the midst of its own extensive study of fracking, with the early results expected in 2012 (and final results in 2014).

Today, the Maryland Shale Safe Drilling Act of 2011 had its first reading in the Senate Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs. While there is support in the Senate for the moratorium, the oil and gas lobby is working overtime, and according to the bill’s lead sponsor Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery), they “have been working the issue harder in that chamber.”

With the recent proposed fracking ban in New Jersey, and the fracking moratorium in place in the province of Québec  (where a multi-year study is also taking place), Maryland lawmakers made an excellent first step to protect their water, environment and health from gas drilling. But the battle is just beginning. The gas industry will put every ounce of pressure it can on the Senate not to pass the bill.

Yet again, polluter lobbyists are threatening to overturn a much-needed safeguard to hold the reckless gas industry in check. Hopefully the Maryland Senate will see through their smog and vote to protect the state’s water and health.

March 14 2011

23:30

Québec’s Oil And Gas Industry Responds To BAPE Report On Shale Gas And Fracking Ban

On Monday, Québec’s oil and gas industry responded to the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) report made public last week. Lucien Bouchard, former Québec Premier turned spokesman for the Québec Oil and Gas Association addressed the media for the first time, acknowledging that the industry’s “new” fracking techniques deserve further scrutiny in order to avoid “mishaps” such as the 19 gas wells that have recently leaked pollution into Quebec’s air and water.

The BAPE commission rightly called for an extensive environmental impact assessment of the effects that shale gas drilling has on air and water quality. While the BAPE did not call for a shale drilling moratorium, Pierre Arcand, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks did, however, ban the use of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) for at least a year and a half, and up to 30 months until this destructive technique can be studied further.
<!--break-->Bouchard was rather despondent in his comments, but at times critical of the BAPE, arguing the commission inappropriately applied concerns in places like Alberta to the Québec situation. This is somewhat odd since Québec had not studied the impacts of drilling at all, and therefore the commission was specifically convened to discuss how shale gas is being developed elsewhere in order to ensure its “harmonious development” in Québec.

On the whole, he said the industry accepts the BAPE findings. The fact of the matter is that the former Premier has little choice.

Well over half of Quebecers oppose shale drilling, and more than 128,000 people have signed an online petition calling for a moratorium on shale gas development. Given the public outcry, it is simply not possible for Liberal Premier Jean Charest to stand firm with this fossil fuel industry since his party’s support hovers around 27%.

The BAPE’s most important finding is that the industry has not provided nearly enough information about the environmental, health and safety impacts from shale gas extraction, or the particularly hazardous and destructive hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) drilling method, in order to alleviate very real concerns raised about this drilling activity.

On this point, when asked if it was a mistake for Québec to start exploring shale gas without following an in-depth impact assessment covering environmental and health effects, Bouchard bluntly stated:

“Maybe we all forgot that it was something new” ...since there was no culture of exploration.

This lack of expertise led to mishaps.

The extreme dangers that come with drilling for dirty fossil fuels using unproven methods like fracking (used in 18 of 31 gas wells in Québec) cannot be understated. Already, gas drilling ‘mishaps’ are destroying the environment and risking public health in the province, where experts found that 19 gas wells have leaked polluting chemicals into the air and water.

In light of the growing body of evidence confirming the dangers of shale gas fracking and drilling accidents, Québec’s politicians ought to stand firm on the fracking moratorium and ban shale gas development in the province as a whole.

March 01 2011

18:05

Shale Gas and Fracking In Québec Under Intense Scrutiny

Late last summer, Québec’s Liberal government announced a provincial study and a series of public hearings on hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural gas industry practice under increasingly intense review following a bombshell New York Times investigation into fracking threats to drinking water and public health.

This week, the commission that the Quebec government set up to review fracking and shale development, called the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE), submitted its far-reaching report on the future of shale gas development in Québec, but it won’t be available for public review until Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, releases it, which could be anytime within the next 60 days.<!--break-->

Since the BAPE commission began its review of the "harmonious development" of the shale gas industry, much has changed in the minds of politicians and the public. Not long after the consultation announcement, the documentary Gasland revealed the shocking environmental damage and health risks posed by the hydraulic fracturing drilling method. Ever since the film’s release, opposition to shale gas development has grown across North America, as well as in Europe where shale gas deposits are just being discovered.

And now, with Quebec due to decide whether or not to allow fracking to continue, there is ample reason for concern. In the course of examining each of the province’s 31 shale gas wells (half of which employ hydraulic fracking) – inspectors have found leaks in a whopping 19.

Public support for fracking has dropped off precipitously across the province. A recent survey of 1,000 people conducted by the daily paper Le Devoir found that 55% of Quebecers are against shale-gas drilling, up from 37% in September. Moreover, among those who have followed the issue closely, opposition is running at 75%. More than 128,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Liberal Premier Jean Charest to place a moratorium on shale gas development.

Premier Charest’s government, once a vociferous advocate for shale gas development, is muting its cheerleading of late and appears to understand the real threat posed by fracking. Minister Arcand admitted publicly last week that, "The industry is not in control of the situation" and that he is "extremely concerned" about the impacts from shale gas development.

Importing natural gas from the western Canadian province of Alberta to meet approximately 13% of its energy needs, Québec’s Natural Resources Department estimates that there may be 40 billion cubic feet of shale gas reserves, which would be more than enough for Québec to meet its energy needs for the next 200 years, if the claims are legitimate. Of course, the province would need to continue to allow hydraulic fracturing, the primary technology enabling drillers to reach its shale gas deposits.

Coinciding with the BAPE’s report being released to Minister Arcand, the citizens coalition Maîtres chez nous 21è siècle released a parallel 123-page report [PDF available in French] Monday. After reviewing some 200 documents, Maîtres chez nous concluded that not only does shale gas development fail to meet Québec’s principles for sustainable development, but also that shale gas is dirty and runs contrary to the province’s climate change reduction targets and clean energy development goals.

Given the findings from the parallel report - and the rapidly growing public opposition to fracking - it is expected that regardless of the BAPE recommendations, the Charest government will be hard pressed to meaningfully pursue shale gas.

Stay tuned since the BAPE study will likely be made public sooner rather than later.

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