While protests against shale gas exploration continue in New Brunswick, the man in charge of Nova Scotia's fracking review says the process is still on track.
David Wheeler said the violence around anti-fracking protests in Rexton won't change the review process.
“It would be hard to miss the events in New Brunswick, but I am keen to say that those events, although they're troubling for New Brunswick, don't actually affect our process or the design of our process at all,” he said.
Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting a mixture of sand, chemicals and water into the earth under high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas held within the shale that is otherwise inaccessible.
Nova Scotia's review will assess the possible economic benefits, as well as the possible health risks posed by contaminated wastewater, or the impact of heavy truck traffic in remote areas.
Wheeler, the president at Cape Breton University, and a newly-hired co-ordinator at the university's Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment have been designing the consultation process.
“The review is proceeding as planned,” said Wheeler. “So we're due to announce in a couple of weeks what the detailed process will be, with all the deadlines for participation by the general public, and indeed experts and future panelists.”
Wheeler said the first step is to determine who will write the final report.
“The public will have a role. Non-governmental organizations,industry workers will all be able to submit nominations for consideration to join our expert panel,” he said.
Mi'kmaq watching closely
Meanwhile, Mi'kmaq leaders said protecting the environment remains a top priority.
They said treaty obligations demand additional consultations beyond the current fracking review.
“I think we have to sit down at the table and have a good discussion with the province in regards to what this review is seeing and the steps the province wants to take to move forward,” said Chief Gerald Julian.
Chief Julian also said any type of fracking that takes place in Nova Scotia without adequate consultation with the Mi'kmaq people opens the door to a court challenge.
Wheeler said the final results of his review should be out by May or June 2014.