Nova Scotians following the findings of a committee studying fracking that has been making the rounds in the province might well have been feeling some frustration.
As the head of the study panel, Dr. David Wheeler, made plain in the meetings, his committee would not be making any recommendation to the province on the question of whether to extend a moratorium on the controversial method of extracting natural gas. Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University, said he felt such a recommendation with its political implications was not up to the panel to make.
The aim of the independent review, as commissioned by the province, was to consult experts and review the possible effects of hydraulic fracturing.
Taking a step back from a recommendation regarding a moratorium, however, perhaps struck some as non-committal on a subject upon which many have strong feelings.
While some Nova Scotians support the industry – as they would any that offers potential jobs and government revenue – a lot of people at the meetings expressed fear and anger, primarily in regard to what they feel is a risk to fresh water supply.
As a followup to initial media reports on the meetings, Wheeler still distances the panel from any position on a moratorium, but he is saying fracking should not proceed in the province until there has been broader public discussion.
Well, we’ve already had an indication of which way public discussion is headed.
He added seismic testing or drilling should not go ahead without broad consent in the communities. Oddsmakers, take note.
Wheeler also said aspects of the industry need more research. That’s certainly true. This province has already shown it hasn’t a clue what to do with fracking waste water, just for starters.
Following these bits of advice might not technically translate into a moratorium, but it would be close. If the provincial government does value public consultation on the issue, it should be paying close attention.