At the end of June 2018, CCPA-BC Resource Policy Analyst Ben Parfitt was asked to make a presentation to the Province's Scientific Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel because of his research into “water storage” issues in northeast British Columbia. In November 2017, the CCPA-BC, First Nations’ associations, public educators, public health associations, environmental and non-governmental organizations called on the provincial government to launch a full public inquiry into all aspects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and natural gas extraction in British Columbia based on Parfitt's work, and recently reiterated that call because of concerns about the impact of fracking and gas extraction on air quality, climate, human health and safety, and Indigenous Peoples and communities.
Parfitt noted that the Panel has been asked to provide the Province with findings and advice on the role of hydraulic fracturingin regard to induced seismicity in northeast BC, and any impacts of hydraulic fracturing on water quantity and quality. Parfitt's research shows:
- that at least 92 dams were built in northeast BC without the companies that built them first obtaining the required licences and authorizations. The provincial energy industry regulator, the Oil and Gas Commission, allowed the majority of those structures to be built and is now responsible for retroactively bringing 51 of those structures into compliance with water laws and dam safety regulations.
- the Commission held onto a report for four years that showed a large number of drilled and fracked gas wells in one remote operating area in northeast BC leaked methane gas, potentially contaminating groundwater.
- that increased water use at more fracking sites means more earthquakes.
Parfitt highlighted that the Panel was asked to carry out its duties in accordance with the Province’s adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The “free, prior and informed consent” of First Nations or Indigenous Peoples is a central theme in the Declaration, and Parfitt noted there is much to suggest that what has happened to date in BC's northeast has not taken place with the “free, prior and informed consent” of First Nations.