Nova Scotia

Sierra Club, fracking company square off

The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter launched a petition to ban fracking in Nova Scotia Wednesday and had a lively debate with Peter Hill, the president of Triangle Petroleum.

The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter has called on the Nova Scotia government to ban fracking, a controversial practice used to extract onshore natural gas.

Four environmentalists braved the rain outside the CORE All Energy Conference at the Cunard Centre in Halifax Wednesday to launch their "ban fracking" campaign, coinciding with a town hall session led by energy ministers from P.E.I, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

They became engaged in a lively debate with Peter Hill, the president of Triangle Petroleum, a company that has already fracked in Hants County and wants to further explore for gas in Nova Scotia.

"This is just scare mongering. I don't mind you having your point of view but please get your facts straight. We do not damage the water table," Hill told the activists.

Heidi Verhool of Sierra Club said she is just presenting the facts.

"[Fracking] uses immense amounts of fresh water, period. So there's a concern over water depletion. It has a potential to contaminate wells," she said.

"That's not fear mongering. That's the way it is."

Hill said he can guarantee the well his company drilled and fracked in 2008 in Hants County will not effect groundwater there.

"There is a thousand metres of rock between where we are seeking to complete and the water table. There is no way that fracking could then lead up to the water table."

Energy Minister Charlie Parker, who spoke outside the conference, said he will not take a position on a fracking ban until government staff complete a study of how other jurisdictions regulate the practice.

"I'm waiting till next March when the final report comes in to see what the panel comes up with," he said.

The Sierra Club will seek signatures for its "Petition Supporting a Legislated Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas in Nova Scotia" until Nov. 30.