Until a couple of months ago I had never heard of “fracking”. I now understand why. And I should have known.
Governments, by long standing habit, don’t like smarty pants environmentalists to learn what the hell is going on and thus be able to alert the masses for those masses can mess up the process. The BC government’s policy was neatly summed up by Finance Minister Kevin Falcon when he was Transport Minister. Frustrated by boo-birds who were always asking questions, going to public meetings and demonstrating said the Chinese “don’t have the labour or environmental restrictions we do. It’s not like they have to do community consultations. They just say ‘we’re building a bridge’ and they move everyone out of there and get going within two weeks. Could you imagine if we could build like that?”
Here is as good a definition I could find for “fracking”:
Horizontal hydrofracking is a means of tapping shale deposits containing natural gas that were previously inaccessible by conventional drilling. Vertical hydrofracking is used to extend the life of an existing well once its productivity starts to run out, sort of a last resort. Horizontal fracking differs in that it uses a mixture of 596 chemicals, many of them proprietary, and millions of gallons of water per frack. This water then becomes contaminated and must be cleaned and disposed of.
What happens is that the drilling is not done vertically but horizontally which allows the company to recover huge quantities of natural gas unobtainable by vertical drilling and they do it by forcing huge quantities of water laced with the chemicals mentioned.
Knowing that, what sorts of questions are running through your mind?
- Does this process weaken the ground so that it might collapse?
- Where do they get all that water from?
- What happens to the river or lake from which all that water was taken?
- What happens if it comes from a reservoir for a dam, does its loss reduce the capacity of that dam?
- Does it go into the water table? Assuming that it has to go somewhere, how clean is it?
- Does the process have any greenhouse gas emissions?
- What about people who live and/or work in the area – does this process affect them adversely?
This isn’t something that came down the river on a piece of bark but is a major undertaking throughout North America. The Atlantic Provinces are involved and Quebec has suspended fracking until there has been a detailed environmental review.
What about the BC government? Surely they have done studies, issued a white paper and encouraged public involvement!
Not a chance. The Minister responsible – the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson – simply refuses to comment. You will note that the Minister of Environment is not involved in this huge environmental question mark.
Here we go again, folks! This is the Campbell/Clark Energy plan all over again. Bring in a policy with huge implications for the environment and just refuse to answer obvious questions and, for God’s sake, don’t have any public hearings! The entire environmental policy of this, the worst government since the Coalition of the 40s and probably beyond, is to simply ram things through and the public can go to hell.
We must assume that companies will lie through their teeth which is quite understandable when you remember that their sole objective of existing is to make money for shareholders. I don’t say that with a sneer – it’s simply that their raison d’etre does not permit them to utter a discouraging word about anything they do.
“Good corporate citizen” is an oxymoron. Whatever they do from sponsoring a Little League Team to building a new wing to a hospital has a profitable pay-back. They don’t make gifts anonymously.
They hire the most expensive liars of earth, the Public Relations industry, to distract the public with literature and film that would make Josef Goebbels blush with pride. That, armed with some crap from the Fraser Institute and a rigidly right wing government is all that’s needed.
It’s all rather like the aphorism, “If a husband sends his wife flowers for no reason, there’s a reason.” If the government doesn’t want you to know, there is a reason – and the reason with this government is invariably that they and industry are about to do it to you again. Lie, obfuscate and clam up is the way the game is played.
The underlying philosophy of this government is as Kevin Falcon stated – the public is a nuisance. Don’t level with them for it might worry the little dears.