Nova Scotia Government Commissions Independent Review of Fracking

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Nova Scotia launches fracking review

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HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government is pulling the plug on an internal review it launched two years ago into hydraulic fracturing in favour of what it says is a more comprehensive and independent study of the controversial practice.

The review will be led by David Wheeler, the president of Cape Breton University and an expert on water quality and groundwater pollution.

Energy Minister Charlie Parker said Wheeler will hold public consultations and assemble an advisory panel of experts to study the social, economic, environmental and health impacts of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

The government launched its own review in 2011, but Parker said Wednesday that Nova Scotians have been calling for an external study.

"They want more independence and they want an expansion of the scope of the study," he said.

"So we're not only looking at the technical aspects of hydraulic fracturing, but expanding it into the health impacts and the socio-economic impacts."

Fracking involves extracting natural gas trapped in shale rock through the use of chemically treated water and sand into a well bore. Critics say the process could compromise groundwater, but the energy industry says fracking is safe and does not harm the environment.

The Nova Scotia government implemented a two-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing last year. At the same time, the NDP announced it would delay its fracking report, initially expected last spring, until mid-2014 to allow for more study.

Parker said work from the internal review will be incorporated into Wheeler's work, which is expected to begin this fall. …

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