HALIFAX – The province is commissioning an independent review of the effects of hydraulic fracturing, including public consultations and creating a panel of experts.
Energy Minister Charlie Parker announced Wednesday that Cape Breton University president David Wheeler will head the review. Wheeler will consult with interested parties and technical experts on the social, economic, and environmental and health impacts of hydraulic fracturing, a technique that frees natural gas trapped in shale rock formations. It will also include public consultations.
"We've heard from Nova Scotians that they want to have their say and that the review should be independent of government; we've listened on both counts," said Parker. "Dr. Wheeler brings an unparalleled background to this important topic, and I'm very glad he has agreed to lead this review."
Wheeler will select members for the hydraulic fracturing advisory panel, which may include experts in fields ranging from environmental planning and oil and gas engineering to water quality and health. The panel may also seek input from other external experts and is expected to begin its work by early fall.
"I am happy to serve the province in establishing what role, if any, hydraulic fracturing may play in Nova Scotia's future energy security and what regulatory and social policies would facilitate or negate such developments," said Wheeler.
"Our panel will be rigorously independent and evidence-led, and I look forward to engaging with Nova Scotians again on setting the highest possible standards and ambitions for our province's sustainable energy future."
Wheeler has been widely published in the field of water quality and health, including groundwater pollution control, and advised the World Health Organization for many years on drinking water quality standards. He oversaw similar policy efforts that helped create Efficiency Nova Scotia and the province's 2010 Renewable Electricity Plan.
In spring 2011, provincial staff began an internal hydraulic fracturing review, identifying potential environmental issues, how they are managed elsewhere and gathering industry best practices. This work will be given to Wheeler.
The independent review will be managed by the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment at Cape Breton University.