The Yukon Legislature’s all-party committee on fracking is one day into its first public hearings in Whitehorse.
Yesterday, the six-person committee heard from a toxicologist and a professor of environmental science. This morning, they’ll hear from the chief medical officers of health for Yukon, New Brunswick and the Northeast Health Service District of British Columbia. A zoologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada and the vice-president of MGM Energy will make presentations this afternoon.
The goal is to produce a report to the full assembly during the fall sitting outlining the risks and benefits of hydraulic fracturing in the territory, and to contribute to an informed debate on the subject.
Mark Jaccard is a professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management who studies energy.
In his presentation Tuesday, he advised against fracking in Yukon.
“I would be very reluctant to be expanding natural gas for consumption let alone production in Yukon,” he says. “I would really be exploring my renewable options. Or my zero-emission options for your energy system.
“You're a fairly small population in a very large resource base, and from early work in Yukon, I know there's a lot of renewable energy potential out there.”
Lalita Bharadwaj, a toxicologist with the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Public Health, also delivered a presentation.
She said Yukon needs more research before any fracking happens.
“The main problem in terms of assessing the risk is the baseline information. What are ambient conditions of the air, the soil and and the water prior to development? Another question is, what is the baseline data of the potential exposed population?”
About 20 members of the public attending the meetings.
Jean-Paul Pinard was among them.
He believes it’s the wrong decision for Yukon to allow fracking in the territory.
“We have a choice here right now,” he says.
After its hearings in Whitehorse, the committee will set dates to hold hearings in other Yukon communities.
The Yukon government is the only northern government to hold public hearings into fracking.
The Northwest Territories government has expressed a strong interest in moving ahead with exploratory fracking operations in the Sahtu region, despite a large degree of public opposition.
So far, no oil and gas companies have expressed interest in fracking in Nunavut.