Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

BC NDP right to look closely at fracking, says enviro lawyer

The British Columbia New Democratic Party is on the right track with its policy on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a method of extracting natural gas, an environmental lawyer told The Tyee.

"I'm glad they're coming out and saying they'd start to examine fracking," said Karen Campbell, a staff lawyer with Ecojustice. "Something needs to be done . . . We're a resource economy out here. I think we need to have responsible stewardship of our resources."

NDP environment critic Rob Fleming and energy critic John Horgan last week called for appointing an expert panel to review fracking, doing more to protect water, funding the Farmers' Advocate to support landowners in the natural gas fields and reconciling gas development with the province's climate action plan.

"If anything, the B.C. government plans to take it the other way," said Campbell. Last year the government extended the period the oil and gas commission may provide permits under the Water Act from 12 months to 24 months, she pointed out. The government made the change even though they are in the middle of a public consultation on the act, a move Campbell said was "totally egregious."

Better funding the Farmers' Advocate is also a good idea, she said. "The system is stacked against land owners," she said, describing it as 'byzantine'. "It's really difficult for ordinary folks to understand what's going on."

Fracking involves injecting rock formations with water, chemicals and sand to break them apart and allow the fossil fuels they contain to be extracted. France last year banned the practice, which has been controversial in several jurisdictions.

"It's a call to do something immediate," said Fleming, of his party's approach, which will be up for debate at the party's Dec. 9 to 11 convention. While there are around 1,000 drill pads in the province now, within a few years it's predicted to be in the tens of thousands, he said.

Campbell was one of several high profile environmentalists who strongly criticized the NDP ahead of the 2009 election for opposing the carbon tax.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus