For Immediate Release:  June 21, 2011
Ottawa Must Meet Responsibility to Protect Environment at Risk From Chemicals Used For Shale Gas and in Situ Tar Sands:  Groups Petition Auditor General’s Office for Answers
Ottawa, ON – Today Environmental Defence, West Coast Environmental Law Association and L’Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA) turned to the Office of the Auditor General for answers concerning Environment Canada’s scientific research and transparency regarding the chemicals injected underground with water for shale gas exploration and exploitation and in situ tar sands extraction. This “environmental petition” followed statements by Environment Minister Peter Kent in the House of Commons last week claiming that the impacts are being studied.
“We know that companies are increasingly injecting chemicals into the ground to extract tar sands and shale gas,” said Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence. “Environment Canada has a responsibility under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to make sure the environment is being protected, and right now that isn’t being done.”
The environmental petition demands answers from Environment Canada on two emerging types of fossil fuel extraction: hydraulic fracturing or fracking of rock to access shale gas and in situ tar sands using chemical solvents. In both cases, chemical mixtures are injected into wells and there is currently no requirement for companies to report the substances used. In the U.S., companies recently disclosed that they used 750 different chemicals, 29 of which have been identified as potential carcinogens or having other human health impacts. Companies extracting tar sands are increasingly using chemical solvents to help get deep tar sands deposits out of the ground. The Auditor General’s Office will ensure that Environment Canada fully answers the questions that the petition asks.  
“It’s time for the federal government to meet its responsibilities to protect water and human health from the impacts of toxic chemicals used by oil and gas companies,” said Patrick Bonin of AQLPA. “The controversy around shale gas has escalated recently in Quebec because people are worried about these impacts, but British Columbia, Alberta and other provinces are also dealing with this issue.”
Last Saturday over 10 000 people demonstrated in Montreal in order to stop all fracking in Quebec. These people, like the majority of Quebecers, are really concerned about environmental, social and health impacts of shale gas exploration and exploitation.
The petition requests to know what studies Environment Canada is doing on the impacts of the chemicals used and calls for companies to need to report the chemicals to the National Pollutant Release Inventory.
“Other big polluters are required to be transparent about what they’re putting into our air and water, and there’s no good reason to give fossil fuel companies a free pass,” said Josh Paterson of West Coast Environmental Law.
The petition can be viewed at https://environmentaldefence.ca/Shale-Gas-Fracking
For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 647-280-9521 (cell)
Patrick Bonin, Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA),  (450) 818-1850 ; 514-594-1221 (cell)
Josh Paterson, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law Association, 604-601-2512