Calgary·In Depth

Fracking boom continues to raise environmental concerns

Landowners are raising environmental concerns on both sides of the border about fracking, which continues to grow in North America's energy industry.

'Water is an important thing and it is something that we have to protect,' says Montana landowner

Fracking Boom: Environmental concerns

9 years ago
Duration 2:35
Landowners continue to raise environmental concerns on both sides of the border about fracking.

Supporters of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — say the technology is helping sluggish economies in Canada and the U.S. pick up steam.

The technique involves pumping water, sand and chemicals deep down well bores to crack open fissures and boost the flow of oil and gas.

But landowners are continuing to raise environmental concerns on both sides of the border.

Fracking Boom

CBC's Erin Collins takes a look at hydraulic fracturing in a four-part series this week on radio, television and online.

Chuck Nerud, who operates a ranch in northeastern Montana, is torn on whether to allow fracking on his land.

"It's a tough decision as to whether or not you want it or don't want it," he said. "But if it comes our community as we know it will never be the same."

Nerud says fracking crews are slowly moving towards his land from nearby North Dakota, which is currently seeing a huge energy boom.

"You look out over the hills to the east they are within 30 miles," he said.

Nerud also worries that if fracking begins in his area the local water will be at risk.

Groundwater contamination a big concern

"Water is an important thing and it is something that we have to protect," he said.

Nerud says he understands the lure of the money fracking can bring, but he worries about the long-term impact on his land.

"Would it be nice to have a little extra cash in your pocket, yah, but you have got to be careful what you wish for," he said.

Donna Bieda, who lives in Longview, Alta., says she isn't against the energy industry but worries not enough is known about fracking.

"We have lots of springs in the area and over time we are worried that it is going to come up and pollute our water and poison it," she said.

Fracking has been banned in parts of the U.S., Europe and in Quebec over environmental concerns.

But Alberta's Energy Resource Conservation Board has said in the past that the province has strict regulations surrounding the practice.

Chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process were of particular concern to Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan in his last report as auditor of Canadian environmental regulations.

Chemicals used include nitrogen, methane and carbon dioxide, and the mixtures are often patented by the companies that use them.