NOFRAC had several concerns about the expanded review, and we were glad to receive feedback relatively quickly from the government on many of our points. To review our concerns, please see our letter from September 3, 2013.
Here is the government response:
On behalf of Premier Darrell Dexter, Leader of the New Democratic Party, please find attached the NDP response to your request for a position on hydraulic fracturing. I very much appreciate the thoughtful and thorough letter regarding the NS NDP government’s striking of an independent review panel to examine the effects of hydraulic fracturing, chaired by Dr. David Wheeler.
NOFRAC made it clear that a review of fracking should be independent of government, and should include public consultation; the NDP has listened and responded to both these concerns. That independence is why we have left many of the panel details in Dr. Wheeler’s hands.
I would like to respond to the points you raise in the order you made them.
1) The new panel will indeed take a whole of industry approach, and evaluate the full impact of all material aspects of unconventional gas extraction.
2) I would like to assure you that the panel review is meant to be comprehensive. We encourage NOFRAC to submit your specific concerns to Dr. Wheeler, and the government, for consideration.
3) The government has retained the right to ensure the panel members represent a comprehensive cross-section of expertise and independence, in consultation with Dr. Wheeler.
4) Your point with regard to independence of both government and industry has been heard and understood.
5) Dr. Wheeler is committed to transparency in public policy development, as he has demonstrated in the other processes he has led. The fracking panel process will be transparent.
6) I appreciate your comments about public consultation, and I am certain that Dr. Wheeler will take them into account as he designs the process. He is copied on this response for precisely that reason.
7) The deadline is not set in stone; it is, however, an indication that the NDP government takes this process seriously and wants to see the matters resolved. That being said, the panel will be certainly be given more time if it needs it.
8) The NDP government has repeatedly promised Nova Scotians that no fracking will be approved in Nova Scotia while the practice is under review. In 2012, Minister of Energy Charlie Parker and Minister of Environment Sterling Belliveau, in an official government release, explicitly ruled out the issuance of any permits, stating bluntly: “No hydraulic fracturing will be approved in Nova Scotia during the review. “ (http://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20120416004). I want to assure you that this ban remains in effect until Dr. Wheeler’s independent review is complete and under review by the government.
9) The budget will be flexible; Dr. Wheeler will have the resources to carry out the thorough review that are needed.
The NDP platform in this election has seven key commitments. They are listed and described at http://nsndp.ca/platform. I hope you and your members will have the time to review them
Again, I would like to assure you that no fracking is currently underway in Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia NDP also has no intention of engaging in “green fracking” research and development as an economic growth area for Nova Scotia, unlike the Liberal Party.
Thank you for the opportunity to outline the NDP’s positions on the different facets of this important issue.
On behalf of Premier Darrell Dexter
Leader, Nova Scotia New Democratic Party