Two big blows to the natural gas industry have come in less than 24 hours, with both the province of Quebec and New York state effectively banning shale gas extraction over concerns with the process of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”).
Fracking allows for the cheap extraction of natural gas from shale deposits that were previously inaccessible, and it is responsible for both the boom in natural gas production as well as the correlate controversy.
Citing public health and environmental concerns, Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard announced yesterday that there would be no shale gas development in his province. The day prior Quebec’s environmental review board released a report finding that there are “too many potential negative consequences to the environment and to society from extracting natural gas from shale rock deposits along the St. Lawrence River.”
Today New York State made a similar move imposing an outright ban on fracking.
“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” said Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.
Other jurisdictions in Canada have fully embraced fracking and natural gas extraction, most notably British Columbia, where Premier Christy Clark has put much of her political capital on the expansion of the natural gas industry in the province’s northeastern region and the proposed expansion of LNG (liquified natural gas) export facilities along the coast.
There remain big questions about whether the expected natural gas boom will ever happen in British Columbia, and the Clark government is likely watching closely these latest moves by Quebec and New York.
In a province like British Columbia, where the populace has been very wary of new energy projects, Clark’s natural gas boom might be a political bust.
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