Quebec’s environmental bureau has been granted a brief extension to complete a report on the impact that increased Utica Shale development would have on the province.

The Bureau des audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) conducted public hearings about two months ago in areas of the province where gas producers have requested to drill (see Shale Daily, Oct. 6; and Daily GPI, Sept. 1).

In addition to conducting the public hearings, which ended in November, the BAPE also received more than 200 briefs for and against exploration. The review was to be completed by Feb. 4, but BAPE President Pierre Renaud requested an extension and was given until Feb. 28.

“We clearly indicated that if the BAPE needed more time to complete its report, we would give it to them and that’s what we’ve done,” Environment Minister Pierre Arcand stated. “We have always been willing to take the time to do things to ensure respect for the environment and the safety of citizens, and therefore the delay requested was granted without hesitation.”

In addition to hearing from the public and Quebec’s energy industry, the BAPE panel members have been evaluating the impact of shale gas development in British Columbia, as well as in Texas, Pennsylvania and New York.

The additional 24 days are considered inadequate by some groups.

Steven Guilbeault, a spokesman for Canadian environmental group Equiterre, noted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “one of the biggest environmental agencies in the world, will take two years to go around the issue” of shale development and hydraulic fracturing. “So it’s nice to have extended 24 more days to BAPE, but it is unclear how it could be completed in just a few months.”