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Fighting fracking under Swan Lake

Dear Editor. Yes, fracturing of bed rock for natural gas recovery has been going on for years.

Dear Editor.

 Yes, fracturing of bed rock for natural gas recovery has been going on for years.  The difference in modern day hydraulic fracturing is the massive pressure used by hydraulically pumping water and chemicals into the bed rock to release pockets of natural gas.

For almost one year now, Swan Lake Enhancement Society (SLES) has been in a “David & Goliath” fight to stop drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) under Swan Lake.  The B.C. government released the drilling rights under Swan Lake and treats it all as if this is just another parcel out in the ‘moose pasture,’ with no regard to the sensitivity of the area or the environmental consequences to the lake should some mishap occur.  We know that mishaps in the oil patch do occur whether they are a result of human error, mechanical problems, or undetected underground faults or formations that lead to contamination problems.  We also know that fracking is in fact, causing multiple tremors and downright earth quakes in Northeast B.C.

Why is all this happening?  Well, it is the obsession to cash in at all costs, the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) dream of B.C. becoming the wealthiest province in Canada, and a cash cow for the oil and gas companies.  So after months of researching, letter writing, making submissions, circulating a petition among lake users, meeting with BC OGC, Encana, and our MLA, explaining the need for common sense, we find ourselves no further ahead.  We are much smarter about all the consequences of modern day fracking, but have been unable to influence those in power.  Instead, we have been told again and again “there is no risk to the lake.”  How can our MLA, the BC OGC, Encana, CAPP, and various ministers, say that in good conscience, when we so often hear of unintended mishaps occurring in the oil and gas industry, not to mention the mishaps that never get reported.

SLES’s mission is to promote good stewardship on the lake and its water shed.  In no stretch of one’s imagination, does drilling and fracking under Swan Lake sound like good stewardship.

SLES is proud of the position we took against this insanity of drilling and fracking under Swan Lake, but have to admit we are running out of steam trying to stop it.  SLES is very appreciative of the PRRD, the Bear Lake Indian Band, the Moberly Lake Community Assoc., Pouce Coupe Village Council, Ducks Unlimited, and all others who in one way or another expressed their concerns and offered support.  Thanks to our MLA for fulfilling his obligation by taking our concerns and petition to a government that is pumping billions of dollars in incentives, to encourage hydraulic fracturing for LNG production.

SLES appreciated the meetings with BC OGC and Encana. It gave us the opportunity to voice our concerns and learn of the comprehensive regulatory system in place.  SLES was very disappointed when Dawson Creek city council arbitrarily cancelled our delegation to attend city council meeting on July 20.  City Council missed an opportunity to become informed of the concerns many people and groups in the Peace have about drilling and fracking under Swan Lake.  It should not have to be said, but Swan Lake is a very important natural resource in its self, to the people of Dawson Creek.  City Council could have at least discussed the issue and taken a democratically arrived at position to support SLES, or not.

SLES has given this issue our best shot!  It is now up to the people of the Peace to speak your minds. Just remember, Encana (and Murphy Oil) is only doing what Victoria allows them to do.  To Victoria, this is just another parcel of drilling rights that will help fulfill the LNG dream.

SLES remains convinced that in spite of all the regulations and monitoring systems available, there still is no guarantee that accidents will not happen.  To confuse the issue, Encana has expressed a desire to join SLES in future Swan Lake water shed stewardship projects.  The best stewardship project Encana could offer this community is not to drill and frack under Swan Lake.

— Allen Watson, SLES director