Here's my translation of press release:
Citizens want Minister Blanchet to explain himself
Since he announced his regulation project to protect drinking water sources, the Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet has made many public statements. These statements are meant to reassure us, but they don't answer citizens' preoccupations regarding their drinking water sources.
1- The Minister says that the situation is urgent and so allows only 30 days for consultation when the law allows a normal delay of 60 days.
What's the rush?
When we know that:
When talking to the media, the minister says he has not received any requests for permits to drill on Anticosti Island.
In Gaspé, Martine Ouellet, Natural Resources Minister, a hydro-geological study will be done by and for the government. She said that it will be an independent study when she visited Gaspé back in May. Since then, we have heard no news about this study, even though there is urgency.
One fact remains: the parties concerned, that is the municipalities that have voted themselves the bylaw called St-Bonaventure and those that have prepared propositions on a similar planned bylaw last year, have not had the time needed to get together in caucus and react to this provincial regulation project.
So the citizens wonder why the minister is such in a rush? Is someone pressuring him?
2- The minister says he is thinking of permitting exploratory drilling with fracking on Anticosti Island, saying that this kind of drilling is needed to evaluate the oil potential of that region.
At the same time, he says that there will be BAPE hearings to examine the pertinence of this exploration.
Is the decision already taken to take the risk of polluting the drinking water sources of this exceptional nature reserve, following which, we are afraid, will lead inexorably to the use of hydraulic fracturing?...
3- The minister says that the regulation to protect drinking water sources is the strictest of the Americas.
The industry itself follows stricter guidelines than the 400 meters under the water table, knowing very well that the fractures made by fracking go often well beyond that distance and can be known only after the fact.
Pennsylvania and New York states have regulations overseeing fracking in hydrocarbon wells putting the limit at 600 meters deep.
Vermont voted in 2012 a complete moratorium on fracking because of the risks that come with it.
Quebec municipal standards where the Saint-Bonaventure bylaw has been voted in are stricter than those proposed by the ministry.
So, citizens are in their right to ask themselves if the proposed standards are made to fit industry's exploratory drilling on Anticosti Island and in Gaspé, or are they really protecting the citizens?
4- The minister let's us understand that hydraulic fracturing is dangerous enough to propose a bill that would ban the use of this technique in the populated regions of Quebec.
But in the same breath, he proposes a regulation project that would let fracking from a certain distance to extract shale oil everywhere in Quebec, and for shale gas outside a perimeter whose borders could be determined by a line traced between Blainville, Joliette, Québec, Montmagny, Asbestos, Cowansville and Chateauguay.
It's all about the same technique that has the same possible impacts and with the same risks, depending mainly, of course, on the rock strata underneath.
And we think that the fact that a territory is less populated does not justify the fact that the residents of that territory do not enjoy the same rights and the same protection for their drinking water sources.
Why the double standard?
We, the citizens of the St. Lawrence Valley, family and friends, from near or afar, with all the citizens of Quebec, be they from the First Nations, French speaking, English speaking or other, consider that, since the proof has not been found that the exploration and the exploitation for hydrocarbons in Quebec would not put at risk our drinking water sources and the quality of the water, that the precautionary principle must prevail, and it is our duty to see to it.
Haste for economic reason from some must not outweigh the protection of the environment for all. We consider that it's the main duty of a government, and even more so the environment ministry, to protect citizens' lives, and that is done with an adequate protection of drinking water.
Without the watchfulness of our voluntary citizens' groups, for the past long three years, the St. Lawrence Valley would undoubtedly be maimed in it's territorial integrity, socially, environmentally and economically.
Signed in Sainte-Marie de Blandford, June 13 2013, by Serge Fortier, spokesperson for the Regroupement interrégional gaz de schiste de la vallée du St.-Laurent (RIGSVSL)
The RIGSVSL regroups more than 100 local citizens' groups that are against the extraction of oil and gas from shale in Quebec. Since 2010, these committees demand a moratorium on shale gas in Quebec and are against the fracking of our land and of our communities.