Province wisely planning fracking rules to deal with
Alberta's plan to develop new rules to better regulate fracking on a large scale is a welcome move. So is the fact the province's energy regulator is seeking input from the public before implementing new rules.
The Energy Resources Conservation Board is reviewing its fracking rules in order to prepare for large-scale fracking which involves much more intensive surface infrastructure, board spokesman Bob Curran said in a Canadian Press story recently.
Curran explained the board's present approach to fracking, technically known as hydraulic fracturing, looks at one facility at a time, but the new rules will examine an entire geological energy pool, or "play." He said fracking plays usually involve well-mapped pools, so it's possible to lay out a developer's entire plan in advance.
It makes sense to look at large-scale fracking with an all-encompassing view instead of a piecemeal approach, since a broader examination is probably necessary in order to gain an accurate idea of the potential environmental effects of such developments. An ERCB news release says this "play-focused regulation would be performance-based to achieve specific outcomes in public safety, water protection, air quality, waste management, surface impacts, resource conservation, and orderly development."
The Pembina Institute supports that approach. The think-tank's Simon Dyer noted in the CP story, "The well-by-well process is not effective when you're dealing with the scale and intensity of some of these developments."
It's also encouraging that the ERCB is giving the public an opportunity to share their views and about fracking, which has certainly been a controversial topic of discussion. Concerns about consequences of fracking have led to the process being halted in some jurisdictions, including Quebec, which issued a moratorium on the process.
The "Draft Directive Hydraulic Fracturing" section on the ERCB website (www.ercb.ca) invites public feedback until Jan. 18. This is a chance for members of the public to air their concerns about the fracking process, and hopefully, those concerns will be considered in crafting new guidelines for fracking in the province.
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