Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking, as it is commonly known – should not proceed in Nova Scotia until a broader public discussion is held and more research is completed, the head of an expert panel reviewing the industry's potential in the province has concluded.
In a decision reached on July 25, David Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University, said the province needs more time to get up to study the rapidly expanding unconventional oil and gas industry.
"We need more research in a couple of particular areas before anyone could take a view on whether this is a good or a bad idea in any part of the province," Wheeler said in an interview with the Canadian Press. "We are also saying that we need a period of learning and dialogue, hopefully informed by the report that we're about to launch."
Nova Scotia imposed a two-year moratorium on fracking in 2012 as public concern grew over the potential for high-volume fracking to contaminate groundwater and foul the air — concerns the industry says are unfounded.
Fracking is the practice of sending superpressurized water down wellbores to fracture deep-bed rock formations and release natural gas from previously uneconomic deposits trapped deep underground in isolated pockets within sedimentary rock known as shale. The fracking boom has the potential to increase natural gas supplies and allow increased domestic production of resins such as polyethylene.
The panel is expected to release a final report with recommendations next month.