Yukon government hiding its fracking plans from Yukoners: Yukon NDP ATIPP

The Yukon NDP Official Opposition is calling on the Yukon Party government to pull the curtains back from its plans to introduce fracking to Yukon in light of yet another blocked attempt to shine a light on the government’s intentions. The Yukon NDP caucus has released a copy of the government’s oil and gas engagement strategy, obtained through Yukon’s access to information law, however the entire document (minus an appendix on social media guidelines) is completely censored.

The all-party Select Committee on the Risks and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing’s 2015 final report called on the government to “consider options for continuing an informed public dialogue amongst Yukoners about the issue of hydraulic fracturing”. Shortly thereafter, the Yukon Party government announced that it would pursue fracking in Yukon and that it would meet the committee’s recommendations through an “Oil and Gas Action Plan”. Under the umbrella of the plan, the government committed to creating an “Engagement Strategy on Oil and Gas” to meet the terms laid out in the fracking committee’s report.

At the time, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR) Scott Kent said that his cabinet “want[s] to adopt a rule of zero tolerance for misinformation and that’s what we will do in the coming months. We are looking forward to ensuring that Yukoners have all the facts and all the information they need to make an informed decision on oil and gas development in this territory.”

“Minister Kent’s statement was a promising one, but in reality the Yukon Party government’s approach to talking about fracking has been anything but transparent,” said Yukon NDP Environment Critic Kate White. “The Yukon Party government’s support for fracking only became well-known because a briefing was accidentally leaked to the media in March 2015.”

That document, seemingly against the recommendations of the all-party fracking committee, called for multi-stage horizontal fracking and the launch of a public information campaign. This year, the Yukon Party government announced funding to implement its Oil and Gas Action Plan and the Engagement Strategy on Oil and Gas.

The Yukon NDP caucus has clearly told Yukoners about the positive alternatives to a harmful gas extraction method that has been banned in many jurisdictions, including recently in Germany. For example, the Yukon government can help reduce Yukon’s carbon footprint by investing in the territory’s budding local renewable energy industry. It could also lead by example by partnering with First Nation government and municipalities to invest in fossil fuel alternatives like geothermal, biofuel or solar power.

On the other hand, the Yukon Party government has resisted, ignored and refused NDP requests to share its plans to pursue oil and gas development with Yukoners:

  • In an April 14th briefing with EMR officials, the Yukon NDP caucus requested a copy of the Oil and Gas Action Plan.
  • On April 20th, and again on the 21st, the NDP asked the EMR minister in Question Period to share the plan. That request was ignored.
  • On May 17th the plan was again requested. The government refused to acknowledge both the question itself and a separate question regarding the minister’s lack of response.

“We need a government committed to transparency. Fracking is a critical issue for many Yukoners and it should be discussed out in the open,” added White. “Yukoners know where the Yukon NDP stands. We will ban fracking and create good sustainable jobs by investing in the renewable energy sector. That’s the way of the future.”

The oil and gas engagement strategy obtained by the Yukon NDP under ATIPP is available as a .pdf download at www.yukonndpcaucus.ca/oil_and_gas_atipp.