Ottawa and provinces working to establish environmental safeguards for shale gas development
Canada holds large reserves of shale gas locked in shale deposits spread across Western Canada, the Arctic, southwestern Ontario, the St. Lawrence Basin and the Atlantic provinces. As energy companies rush to exploit these as yet largely untapped resources – and governments struggle to put the appropriate regulatory safeguards in place – a number of environmental cautions are being raised. Chief among these is the heavy demand for fresh water such extraction typically requires, coupled with worries about air and water pollution, elevated greenhouse gas emissions, and even increased seismic activity. This special issue of the Willms & Shier newsletter reviews the environmental repercussions of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – the technology generally used to liberate shale gas from rock formations – and summarizes the federal and provincial regulatory regimes.