British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said Thursday the province would launch an online registry for the public to keep track of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the province, part of a strategy to provide transparency of shale gas activities.
Clark said the website would be up in January and the public would be able to see where fracking was being performed and what chemical additives were being used at those drilling sites. The website would also contain additional information about fracking.
"British Columbia is committed to the development of a more open and transparent natural gas sector and the disclosure of hydraulic fracturing practices and additives supports this goal," Clark said Thursday. "Now, all British Columbians will have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about the industry's operations."
Clark made her announcement at the annual BC Oil & Gas Conference, which began Wednesday and was to conclude on Friday in Fort Nelson, BC. Earlier Thursday the natural gas industry indicated that it supported the government's decision to launch the website.
"Canadian natural gas producers have created new guiding principles for hydraulic fracturing to guide water management and improve water and fluids reporting practices," said Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). "Industry supports the government of BC in its move to improve disclosure. CAPP's principles apply nationally, providing the same type of transparency to shale gas developments regardless of jurisdiction."
Environmental groups said Clark's actions didn't go far enough.
"The level of concern is high enough that the premier feels like she needs to be seen doing something," Ben West, spokesman for the Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC), told NGI's Shale Daily on Friday. "It's a step in the right direction, but it's a really small baby step. It's one thing to post some information on a website; it's quite another to actually do a cumulative impact assessment. That's not a radical position; Quebec, New Jersey and France are all doing that."
The WCWC and other environmental groups sent a letter to Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman in April, asking the provincial government to conduct an environmental assessment of shale gas production. But Coleman said fracking would be allowed to continue unabated (see Shale Daily, April 20; April 4).
British Columbia isn't the only province declining to restrict fracking. The natural resources minister of New Brunswick, which borders Quebec, said on March 14 a moratorium would not be implemented there (see Shale Daily, March 14).
The Quebec government said March 8 it would conduct a two-year environmental assessment on shale gas, during which time hydrofracking could continue for exploration purposes only (see Shale Daily, March 10).