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Fracking review panel named

The province is moving forward with an independent scientific review of hydraulic fracturing to ensure it is meeting the highest safety and environmental standards, Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall announced today.

The review will be carried out by a three-member independent panel consisting of a professor of hydrogeology, a geological engineering professor and a geological engineer/geophysicist.

“Protecting our air, land and water is central to our government’s direction of sustainably developing the province’s resources and creating jobs for British Columbians,” said Mungall, in a news release. “We know British Columbians have questions about hydraulic fracturing. It’s our job to make sure that natural gas operations continue to meet world-class standards and best practices for environmental protection.”

Specifically, the panel will look at the role of hydraulic fracturing as it relates to induced seismicity and its impacts on water quantity and quality. It will also look into fugitive methane emissions that may occur in the process of hydraulic fracturing.

“The scientific panel will look at the process of hydraulic fracturing used to extract B.C.’s natural gas, review our regulations and provide recommendations to minimize risks to the environment,” said Mungall.

The scientific review panel is responsible for hearing presentations and collecting scientific evidence from organizations and experts, as well as traditional Indigenous knowledge from First Nations. Information and evidence will be collected from academics, industry associations, northeast B.C. communities, Treaty 8 First Nations and environmental organizations.

The panel will be comprised of:

  • Diana M. Allen, P. Geo (PhD, 1996, Carleton University) is a professor in the department of earth sciences at Simon Fraser University. Her research focuses broadly on water security, spanning the development of risk-assessment methodologies to understanding and projecting the potential impacts of climate change on water resources.
  • Erik Eberhardt, P. Eng is a professor of rock mechanics and rock engineering, and the director of the geological engineering program at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on the integration and advancement of field geology, innovative monitoring, experimental rock mechanics, and state-of-the-art numerical modelling applied to geological hazard problems encountered in deep mining, unconventional gas and rock-slope engineering projects.
  • Amanda Bustin, PhD Bustin is a research associate at the University of British Columbia and the president of Bustin Earth Science Consultants. Bustin holds degrees in geological engineering (BASc, 2001) from the University of British Columbia and a PhD (2006) in geophysics from the University of Victoria.

Nalaine Morin will provide advice to the panel on traditional Indigenous knowledge.  Morin is nationally recognized for her work in environmental assessment. She has led and managed the environmental reviews of several large resource development projects on behalf of First Nations.  In 2006, Morin helped establish the Tahltan Heritage Resources Environmental Assessment Team (THREAT) on behalf of the Tahltan Nation. THREAT is a team that incorporates the expertise of the Tahltan people with western science.

The panel will compile all information obtained, and provide findings and advice to the minister before the end of the year.

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