Nfld. & Labrador

Wait for research before allowing fracking, scientist says

An environmental scientist from Alberta says the government here should wait for more research before allowing the process in this province.
Environmental scientist Jessica Ernst says government needs to be make sure they're getting all the facts before allowing hydraulic fracturing to happen in their communities. (CBC)

An environmental scientist from Alberta says Newfoundland and Labrador should wait for more research before allowing hydraulic fracturing in this province.

Jessica Ernst, who said the drinking water in her home was contaminated by nearby fracking, was in Stephenville over the weekend to give a lecture on the process.

She said companies don't present all the facts before fracking in an area.

"The big thing about when you do get fracked [is] it's lots of lies and promises. Then as soon as you're fracked, then the promises are broken and the lies unravel," Ernst said.

She said she worked in the oil and gas industry for 30 years – even working on a few contracts for companies who used the fracking process. But when she realized what happened to her own water, she began more research on the process.

"The government was promising Albertans saying, 'Oh, no, no, no, this is not going to happen here,'" she said.

"You are being told here [in Newfoundland and Labrador] that it's different geology in Rosebud, [Alberta]. We'll never allow what happened there to happen in Newfoundland. But they told Albertans that, and they had already fractured right into our drinking water supply."

Ernst points to recent revelations about the academic credentials of Louis LaPierre, who has put together multiple reports for New Brunswick about fracking, and was quoted by Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall.

It was discovered that LaPierre's PhD was in education, not science, and he admitted to misrepresenting some of his credentials.

Ernst said that's a perfect example of what the industry is like.

"I think what happened with Dr. LaPierre is exactly what is the problem with hydraulic fracturing – it's a great big fraud," she said.

According to Ernst, communities need to be vigilant about fracking to keep companies – and government – accountable.

"Watch all the things going wrong, look at all the contamination cases – there is now health concerns coming out. There is science showing greater risk of cancer and neurological problems near fracked sites. Do you want to do that to your people here?" she asked.

"So wait. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others."


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