The opposition Parti Quebecois has been insisting on a one-year moratorium on shale-gas drilling. Meanwhile, PQ chef Pauline Marois was telling youth delegates over the weekend that a PQ government would ensure that 50% of the wealth from the resource would come back to the province.
Easier to take things both ways when you're in opposition, eh!
Environmental hearings on the shale gas begin today in St. Hyacinthe, near Montreal. Critics charge that the hearings are restricted and will be dominated by industry promoters.
The PQ say that the Liberal government is too eager to embrace the new industry, having already issued 400 drilling permits, albeit only seven that have as yet resulted in exploratory holes being drilled.
Reports say that 11% of Quebec's energy consumption is natural gas and that it is all imported from western Canada or the U.S. and could likely be replaced by Quebec gas if the shale was developed. An estimated $200 million per year in extra revenue could go Quebec's way. Perhaps not to be sneezed at but hardly the "game changer" that has been touted.
Extraction of the shale gas requires horizontal drilling and bombardment of the shale with sand, water and chemicals to break the rock and release the gas. The process is in place in the U.S. in thousands of wells, however widespread complaints include reports of gas getting into the water supplies, and people lighting their water on fire. New York State has imposed a temporary moratorium.