Yukon fracking committee hears an overwhelming 'No'
Overwhelming majority of people speaking to the committee are against fracking
So far 108 people in nine Yukon communities have spoken to the Yukon government’s select committee on fracking, and the overwhelming majority are against it.
The Yukon Legislature's select committee on fracking has published transcripts of its recent community meetings.
At least two of the comments came from people who have worked in the oil and gas industry.
Bonnee Bingham from Old Crow said she's worked in Alberta hauling water to a fracking site.
“Working on the rigs, I can tell you it would take me a whole day of constant hauling water just for one frack job,” she told the committee. “That water is contaminated and unusable afterward. That's a big concern."
Murray Hampton of Faro was one of the few speakers not completely against fracking.
“The thing that bugs me about a lot of this is that it’s ‘not in my backyard. We all drive vehicles. We all use gas and oil,” he says. “We don’t want our backyard messed up. On the other hand, we’ve got to have fuel. So somewhere there’s got to be balance.”
In Teslin, Doug Martens was one of many to speak up for the environment.
"I think if you were to ask the question, ‘What is the most valuable resource the Yukon has?’ I would suggest that water is one of the most valuable assets the Yukon has."
In Ross River, Dennis Shorty spoke in Kaska with a translator.
"The elders told us,” Shorty said. “They said, ‘Don't sell your land. Take care of it and take care of all the animals, not only for yourselves, but for the next generation.’"
Cynicism about consultations
A recurring theme in the transcripts is cynicism about consultations.
Some don't think it's going to amount to much.
"It seems to me that public opinion is not for support of any type of hydraulic fracturing in the Yukon,” says Eric Fairclough, chief of the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation. “You may hear of some, but I don’t think there is a whole lot of it there.”
Fairclough pointed to the Peel watershed case, where the government moved ahead with its own plan against the advice of the planning commission that sought public input.
“In my view, when the Yukon Party government does not like public opinions, they throw these things into committees for committees to deal with. You’ll find these committees going into the communities to hear the people out but I don’t think that, in the end, the Yukon government decision would even follow the Committee’s rules.”
Many First Nations have opposed fracking. Last year the Council of Yukon First Nations passed a resolution against it.
Chief Brian Ladue of Ross River Dena Council put it bluntly.
"So you’ve heard it loud and clear from Ross River — from the chief, the council: No means no."
The committee is still planning to hold hearings in Haines Junction and Carcross/Tagish.
It’s scheduled to deliver its report to the legislature this fall.
Listen to the CBC's Philippe Morin read some of the transcripts on air with Airplay's Dave White: