August 4, 2016
Yukon Liberals Out of Step on Oil and Gas
With the Yukon election nearly upon us, an overview of the political parties' positions on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is timely.
The Yukon Party promotes oil and gas development and supports fracking as a means of extracting fossil fuels from Yukon's shale. (We remind Yukoners that the Petrel Robertson survey of 2012 revealed that Yukon's geology is 80% shale, which can only be extracted by fracking).
The NDP, to their credit, have listened to public opinion and have steadfastly opposed fracking since the Select Committee's report on hydraulic fracturing in January 2015. They have repeatedly challenged the government when it comes to the regulation and practices of the oil and gas industry to ensure that Yukon's water and environment are protected. They have also proved to be firm advocates for alternate, renewable energy.
What about the Yukon Liberal Party? Three members of Yukoners Concerned met recently with leader Sandy Silver and candidate John Streicker. Their response to our question about fracking was "no fracking in the Yukon." However, the Liberals would not commit to a ban or moratorium on fracking. Without the legislative certainty that a ban or moratorium would impose, there is a serious risk that a declaration of "no fracking" might just become mere words.
Then there is another issue which raises real doubts about any Liberal commitment to transition away from fossil fuels.
Yukon Liberals, we were told, support "local oil and gas development," that is, the conventional drilling of oil and gas in Eagle Plains. Northern Cross' proposed development is currently before the Executive Committee of YESAB over concerns about impacts on the Porcupine Caribou Herd. Northern Cross' project also raises concerns about water, the effects of drilling on permafrost, the use of sumps for burying waste and the disposal of wastewater. Moreover, their original application in 2012 included a proposal to frack. It remains unclear whether Northern Cross, if their application is permitted by YESAB, would be able to go ahead and frack if conventional drilling proves unsuccessful in accessing oil and gas in Eagle Plains.
If the Liberals adhere to their plan to promote "local oil and gas development." also proposed by the Yukon Party and the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, they will be supporting the oil and gas industry directly and indirectly. No oil and gas development occurs without the assistance of government. From the millions in subsidies would be added the costs of building infrastructure, including, but not limited to, the construction, upgrading and maintenance of roads, and the diversion of money from where it should be going - into green energy. Such support for a dying industry would be way out of step with the direction in which every progressive jurisdiction is headed, away from a dependency on fossil fuels.
Moreover, if realized, the development of "local oil and gas" would sharply escalate Yukon's greenhouse gas emissions (in particular, methane, the worst GHG) due to greatly increased emissions involved in the drilling, processing and refining of fossil fuels, never mind the massive increase in vehicles supporting the development and producing additional emissions. Yukon Liberals would again be completely be out of step with their federal counterparts who are determined to reduce Canada's greenhouse gases, just weeks ago committing to cut methane emissions by 40-45% by 2025, alongside the U.S. and Mexico.
Let all party candidates know that you want to see Yukon invest in renewable energy, where our future lies, rather than after the fossilized past.