Canadian government ‘not pleased’ with Nova Scotia’s plans to ban fracking

Canadian government ‘not pleased’ with Nova Scotia’s plans to ban fracking

Canada’s federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver warned Friday the province of Nova Scotia could be thwarting a key economic opportunity by banning high-volume hydraulic fracturing for onshore shale gas.

The decision, which follows an independent panel review that recommended the government proceed slowly, prompted criticism from industry groups, which insist the process is safe and could bring big financial payoffs.

The minister, Canadian Press reports, echoed that sentiment, arguing several provinces have carried out fracking for decades without any contamination of drinking water.

Canadian government ‘not pleased’ with Nova Scotia’s plans to ban fracking

Canada’s federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver.

"When a government steps back from the responsible development of its resources and that development doesn't create an environmental risk, there are economic consequences inevitably to that and there's a lost opportunity," he was quoted as saying.

But N.S. Energy Minister Andrew Younger says the province is only banning high-volume fracking, which requires far more water than conventional fracking and has been around for less than a decade.

A two-year moratorium on fracking was put in place by the previous NDP government in 2012 as public protests grew in Nova Scotia and in neighbouring New Brunswick.

In a statement Wednesday, Younger said the Liberal government made its decision following input from the public, including aboriginal leaders in the province.

"Nova Scotians have clearly indicated they are not yet ready for the use of hydraulic fracturing in the development of shale reserves," he said.

Fracking enthusiasts say the industry could spur Nova Scotia’s stalled economy and reduce its dependence on coal-fired plants.

The problem, says Barbara Pike of the Maritimes Energy Association, is that the province needs energy, particularly natural gas. “The public should understand that if we’re not going to get it locally, we’re going to get it somewhere.”