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Quebec’s minority goverment tables moratorium bill on shale gas fracking

The Quebec government has tabled legislation which could impose a moratorium on exploration for shale gas in the St. Lawrence River valley during the next five years.


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May 19, 2013 by Canadian Plastics

The Quebec government has tabled legislation which could impose a moratorium on exploration for shale gas in the St. Lawrence River valley during the next five years.

The bill, tabled by Environment Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet, would prohibit drilling, hydraulic fracturing – also known as fracking – as well as injection tests.

The moratorium would last for five years or until new regulations on shale gas exploration are in place.

In February, Blanchet announced he had ordered the provincial agency on environmental public hearings to look into the impact of the shale-gas industry; the new bill makes the moratorium official.

Although fracking is carried out by companies in the Gaspe and on Anticosti Island, Blanchet said the decision to limit the moratorium to the St. Lawrence lowland came because of opposition by residents to the exploration process.

The minority Parti Quebecois government will have to get the support of one of the other parties in the legislature for the bill to pass.

Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard said the government should wait for the results of the public hearings, and accused the government of “managing by moratorium.”

Coalition Leader Francois Legault said the government is trying to please its supporters with a position based more on ideology than science.

From the plastics perspective, the legislation strikes at the heart of a technology that supporters of fracking say will increase natural gas supplies, lower gas prices, and transform North American producers of resins such as polyethylene, which are favored by lighter natural gas-based feedstocks, into some of the most cost-competitive producers in the world.