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Mar 30
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Natural Gas in Nova Scotia: What’s best for all?

View from Queensland Beach, courtesy of Kalapa Capital Center Blog

View from Queensland Beach, courtesy of Kalapa Capital Center Blog

By Judy Bond

Last week Nova Scotia accepted bids from companies proposing to develop onshore natural gas reservoirs from shale deep under the province. Natural gas is cleaner burning than coal and oil, creates less global warming, and is locally available. But what are the pros and cons for Nova Scotia?

While the hydraulic fracturing procedure has been used by the oil, gas and water well industries for many years, its application to producing shale gas is a recent development in the last decade or so. Now that oil and gas from sandstones and limestones is starting to decline, and coal has to be imported to Nova Scotia, the time has come to look at mining more inaccessible shale gas to fill the energy gap until renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, tidal, and hydroelectric can be more widely used.

To its credit, the province has not turned to nuclear power to generate electricity, and it is vigorously pursuing renewables. At the same time, Nova Scotia sits on an estimated 69 trillion cubic feet of shale gas and 1 trillion cubic feet of coalbed methane, which can be mined for natural gas. Here are the figures for 2001 and proposed figures for 2011 from the Nova Scotia Government’s Renewable Energy Plan published in 11/2010:

Nova Scotia: Sources of Fuel for Electricity Generation

Coal and petroleum (mostly imported) 89% in 2001
Coal and petroleum (mostly imported) 75 % proposed for 2011

Natural gas (local) 1% in 2001
Natural gas (local) 10-13% proposed for 2011

Renewable sources (wind, solar, and hydroelectric) 10%
Renewable sources (tidal, wind, solar, and hydroelectric) 14% proposed for 2011

How is a shale gas field brought into production? Typically we are looking at each well sitting on a 5 acre parcel, within a field of many wells that cover a large area, with a density of one well per 88 acres. It takes months to drill and complete a well to 10,000 feet, say, a matter of days to frack the shale in the producing formation, after which a well may produce gas for years into a storage tank or hooked up to a pipeline. This is successfully happening in the Haynesville shale of Northern Louisiana.

Courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration

Courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration

So why is there public opposition to shale gas production? There have been problems and there are problems now because governments do not have in place and enforce regulations to make sure that wells are properly constructed. The casing is cemented to the side of the hole to prevent the fracking fluid from getting into fresh groundwater, usually located within a depth of a few hundred feet below the surface. Some fracking fluid comes back up the hole and must be recycled or disposed of down another well built for that purpose. Moreover, the source of the fluid that is used for fracking must be specified and regulated if it is to come from surface water. Importantly, the local geology should not include faults that could open during fracking and act as conduits to the fresh water.

In the larger picture, some wildlife habitat will be destroyed and fragmented, roads will be added, drilling rigs and pipe must be trucked in and out initially, and taxes or royalties must go to the province.

Given that there are vast amounts of shale gas available to be produced worldwide, and that this production is needed and being investigated, Nova Scotia could be the shining example of a province that develops this resource properly. This would mean cleaner air and less global warming worldwide, and less dependence on foreign energy sources for all.

I can’t help but think that the Vidyadhara knew about the vast treasure of elemental energy under, above and around Nova Scotia when he chose it for the birthplace of enlightened society years ago. There was coal and now it is gone. At present, there is natural gas from local shale and coal seams to use until hydroelectric, solar, wind and tide become more feasible.

May this benefit Nova Scotia and sentient beings in general.
May enlightened society flourish, prosper and spread!

Longtime Shambhala Buddhist, science educator, and former research geologist Judy Bond responds to the public outcry in Nova Scotia concerning hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ for natural gas.

Ms Bond attended the 1979 Seminary with the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. She has been trained by the EPA in the construction and siting of hazardous waste disposal wells, a related technology. She lives in Maryland where she teaches Shambhala Art, Ikebana and the Way of Shambhala curriculum.

Read more about this issue on the Washington Post.

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29 responses to “ Natural Gas in Nova Scotia: What’s best for all? ”
  1. premilla dixit nag
    Jul 24, 2012

    Judy Bond & Andrew Taylor, you might think you mean well, but you are both deplorable. You use your “expertise” to tell only the part of the story you benefit from and “believe in”. You even present YOUR bonafides as heroic and pious it seems in an attempt to manipulate your readers trust your word and seek no further. I am glad to note that not one of the respondents have been taken up by your glowing version of a VERY DIRTY story. I recommend to all Shambhala readers Desmog Blog, ProPublica, & Damascus Citizens websites to catch up with the full story.

    Shale gas was interred deep under for good reason. Earth was uninhabitable by life as we know it without that. Over 4 billion years of evolution could not withstand the conditions present 550 million years ago. 80% of it died off. The Cambrain evolution virtually across this planet moves forward following the settling and formation of that shale and all that is interred with it — the heavy metals and radioactive materials, the co2, the methane, the deep sea brine over 7 times saltier than ocean waters.

    It used to be that the gas that is in our barbecue stoves and newspaper inks was tapped with a shallow vertical well bore. That is not hydraulic fracturing. To conflate the two is disingenuous beyond belief.

    What is more, natural gas can be replaced for its more important uses in producing our ‘way of life’ (our way of death is more like it), and much of its present ‘use value’ can be dispensed with all together — lawns for example, hardly a worthy pursuit of practicing buddhists.

    It takes 3-8 million gallons of water per frack per well — to date most of that water is fresh water. With each frack, upto 60-80% of that HIGH PRESSURE (equivalent to numerous thermobraic bombs designed for maximum shattering power) injected toxic water, now additionally carrying the interred stirred up poisons, remains underground, lost to the hydrological cycle.

    At a time of climate change, when water scarcity is predicted, and nations are gearing up for ‘water wars’ (Pentagon first ), exactly how is this flagrant squandering of fresh water a wise policy going forward into a deepening climate change scenario exacerbated by the very “natural gas” upon which we are squandering our staff of life? Wake up call Joan and Andrew.

    The global water corporations are no laggards in realizing the profits to be made for CEOs and shareholders in this scenario. They see $$ signs in the gloom and doom scenario and are selling investement portfolios like there is no tomorrow ( there isnt, if they get what they aim for). It is not just our GOD species that depends upon fresh water for survival.

    That the USA government — at the heart of the ‘fracking’ revolution — is riddled with industry insiders shaping energy policy, research support and MASSIVE government subsidy, is old news. Surely the whole world knows that dirty story of America’s oily politics by now. There lies the birth of this dirty industry — crony corporate capitalism and all the law twisting that goes with it. It is quite clear that were the government to offer even a modicum of similar support to the honest to goodness renewable energy sectors, we can be running our world entirely on renewable energy by 2030 if not sooner.

    The rub is, that solar, wind, geothermal, biogas do not naturally lend themselves to be run as global corporate monopolies. And monopoly is what the corporate world drives, wants, and needs. All the global world trade pacts, starting with the WTO are organizing and buying off governments to deliver policy that build monopoly control of key resources. It should come as no surprise when what is now merely an alliance turns into a conglomeration of the global oil, gas and water giants.

    And do we seriously believe “cheap gas” will remain cheap in a corporate scenario that is ready to monopolize water resources and sell water to the highest bidders? We dont need to speculate, or believe anything, we need only to watch the industry — it is already building pipelines and liquefication plants to sell this “national security” “energy independence” to the highest bidders on the world market.

    And talking about “national security” — exactly whose ‘national security” ? Those whose lives have been dealt with like chaff in the wind in the path of the frack monster– thousands of communities in 36 states, and that is just accounting for the USA?

    The USGA reports that where there were 34 earthquakes in 100 years, below 2.5 on the richter scale, in 2011 – ONE YEAR — there were 134 earthquakes all over 3.5 on the richter scale — from Alabama to Montana. That is across the heart of this nation. Geologists tell us, once started, there is no recalling seismic activity. And all this for your earnings, Andrew, and for all the creature comforts you threaten people will lose without fracked gas? I suggest it is time for you to learn a lot more and preach a lot less.

    Lastly, what on earth happened to government of the people, for the people, by the people? We had barely taken baby steps towards that dream state and we are about to lose it to global corporate government?

    Just yesterday, in the Shambhala Times, I read Richard Reoch, President of Shambhala, letter putting out the message from the Sakyong, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, the supreme head of the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, headquartered in Canada, in support of the initiative to create a Canadian Department of Peace. He wrote: “Years hence, when every country has a Ministry of Peace, people will look back and ask: ‘What took us so long?’ After all, we have a ministry for almost everything else: health, education and so on. How odd that, of all things, we have no ministries of peace. Peace is the key to accomplishing the rest.”

    I could not agree more. Fracking for shale gas is war — war on the communities situated over the shale, and war on the communities situated where the fresh water for fracking will be extracted in millions of gallons destabilizing all local fresh water use. Here is a critical, immediate, internal task for a Department of Peace — to negotiate with the Department of Energy and The Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Commerce and Industry — to build the energy we need for a peace world, not a world of endless war.

  2. Andrew Taylor
    Nov 3, 2011

    My family and I recently returned to Nova Scotia. I am a water guy. I am an environmental technologist specializing in water resources, proudly received my education here in Nova Scotia; I do not install water treatment systems or sell anything relating to water. Like most people my age, I had to move away for work and gain experience that I could bring back home. Nova Scotia is very fortunate to have ample clean surface and sub-surface water so unfortunately there is little demand for my education. My experience allowed me to move my family home and still work globally. My current occupation is, and has been for more than 10 years, “Geophysical Logging Engineer”, and I now work for a company from France who is setting up operations in Canada. The French like it here. Safe, clean, quiet. All the reasons my fiends and family choose to live in NS. And I have worked in the oilfields of Africa, UK, Texas and Canada. My job is to evaluate, or “log”, the wells that our clients drill. The tools myself and my associates use will tell them where the oil, gas and water is, and if or where there are fractures and what angle and direction the rock is “tipping”, and what type of rock it is. this is important for fracking. And we can evaluate the isolation between the well and the surrounding rock. Isolation is critical because if any fluids (i.e., frac) or gasses (i.e., sweet or sour) get behind the casing, it may travel up the well to ground water or atmosphere. If the isolation is poor, the oil company decides to repair it or not. Repairs are not impossible, and in the thousands of wells I have logged, only a few have required repairs, and each one was repaired. Oil companies will not risk lawsuits, injuries, lost revenue and penelties if leaks occur, especially where companies like mine have proof the well required repair. Our Canadian federal and provincial governments, unlike some in the world, require nearly every well drilled to be logged, and logs be given to their respective departments for analysis and archive. This should be the case in Nova Scotia. Every well should be logged after each stage of the well is completed. That way the government, public and the oil company will know exactly where the oil, gas and water zones are, if there is any sour (bad) gas zones and where the naturally fractured zones are. With this information, there can be decisions made to ensure the safest completion of the well. Modern cement, casing, drilling fluids and equipment can safely drill a well and be ready for production equipment in less than two months. And that includes fracing. The pipelines are buried and trees will grow back and roads are properly built for future acces to the wellsite. Gates (to prevent vehicles on the road) and fences (around the well head) are erected and local people are employed to look after every wellsite. The noise is short term and can be minimized by using proper equipment and locating drilling equipment away from homes. Drilling fluids may be water based, and can even be salt water; that we have enough. And with proper well design (public MUST be educated and informed of this process) any frac fluid that doesn’t return to surface after the completion of the fracing process, ion exchange, gravity and bound water effects will prevent upward migration into ground water. Coal, used here for generations, has taken a higher toll on the environment than natural gas exploration/exploitation ever will. Remember the thousands of injured or killed by working in and living near the mines here in Nova Scotia. And those who are against fracing, please do not do business in Halifax (yes my friends even the hospital) as the city has a nat-gas hydro generator. And give away your barbeque and your oil furnace or boiler and your car as all the plastics are from natural gas, and your fertilizers for your lovely lawn and garden, do away with them as well. I’m sorry but I see so much hypocracy from those who paint signs (can’t use paint either) or post uneducated comments in the newspaper (can’t do that either, nat gas is used to make paper and/or ink).

  3. Robert Kucera
    Aug 19, 2011

    Judy, I’m a little dumbfounded that you reference the American Petroleum Institute as a reliable source. You wrote “To learn the details of well construction and the fracking procedure, google “API hydraulic fracturing video”” (Judy Bond March 31 2011). The fact that you casually refer skeptics to information provided by the propaganda arm of the global hydrocarbon extraction industry betrays a lack of intellectual rigor on your part.

    You also apparently fail to understand that promises made by the resource extraction industry are just so many lies. You suggest that Nova Scotia could be a shining example of safe fracking extraction. Judy, please look at the devastation caused all over the world by aggressive resource extraction. Similar promises have always been made, yet end in tears for the local populace. A popular definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results”. Thinking that the oil and gas industry has reformed itself to become environmentally and economically responsible is just such a lie.

    The reality is that corporations cannot and will not pay the true costs of fracking. Fracking is always payed for by the citizens.

  4. Don Wilson
    Jun 25, 2011

    I’m somewhat late to this conversation but would like to send a message to all including the Government of N.S. – by now we all know how very dangerous the process of gas well drilling can be to local potable water aquifers . We also are fearful of Water based Fracking of gas wells – so much of the chemical cocktail pumped underground isn’t recovered . Will that eventually make it’s way upward to contaminate aquifers years from now ? Will it leak up around the outside of the steel well casing ?
    The Government talks about ” good paying jobs ” – these are mostly temporary until production is happening . And in the case of Nova Scotia , many of the jobs are done by drilling company crews that pay income tax in another Province .
    And in rebuttal to those that assume there isn’t an alternative to buning a hydrocarbon fuel for many years to come . In the case of heating and cooling homes , offices – small and large , and most other buildings , there is Geothermal heat also underground and it is free once a water well has been drilled to a specfic depth . Most new homes and other buildings are installing this when building . If the government would bring forth a retrofit program for exhisting buildings this would creat many man years of jobs for locals who do pay income tax in N.S.
    The side benefit is the Province could then close all coal fired power plants in N.S – instaed of spending millions to clean up the emmissions . Many many buildings would no longer use furnace fuel – think of the $ savings and the reduction of CO2 gas. . Additional electric power can be generated more locally by smaller Natural gas plants distributed across the Province situated near the exhisting natural gas pipeline . In a few years the next generation of solar electric panels will be available to supplement generation of electricity . Wind energy is already expanding in Cumberland County and near Tatamagouche .
    There will soon be a glut of natural gas / methane from shale gas activity in the USA . N.S. can use what is left from our offshore instead of piping it to the USA .
    The net benefit is we will not have contaminated any potable water , we retain our tourism industry , our seasonal residents industry , and we have not spoiled our air quality – we have made it better by getting rid of coal plant air residues .

  5. Jean Sawyer
    May 26, 2011

    Another resident being blasted out of her home in Point Aconi, Nova Scotia died yesterday, the 9th dear soul since the blasting and strip mining for Coal started over 4 years ago, there’s another blast tomorrow that shows no respect for the people being adversely effected at all. Now there’s the Coal Gas deals being made that were also mentioned by the area’s candidates in the debate for the federal election last month. Also being ignored is why 300 of the world’s leading experts on toxic acid mine Water visited Nova Scotia last September and why they’re building Mine Water treatment plants asap. Do you think the people of Cape Breton and Stellarton, Nova Scotia who are being blasted and strip mined and polluted out of their homes and off their ancestral lands for high polluting Coal to generate electricity for Nova Scotians and being ignored have any right to take offense, would you? Meanwhile, how many people in Nova Scotia are being adversely effected by fracking shale gas? Sorry for bursting any bubbles but as was said at public meetings around Point Aconi, enough is enough, and it wouldn’t be so bad if they told the truth. The fact that so many reports and so many Nova Scotians say that the Coal mines are closed and there’s no Coal left and we import all our Coal to generate electricity, and no one even noticed the likes of Xstrata’s Coal mine at Donkin or the calls for proposals for offshore and onshore Coal Gas exploration in the past few years, and now the Gasland bandwagon serve to illustrate how domestic Coal is a dirty four letter word never mentioned where it’s out of sight and out of mind, but will continue to be used to generate energy for Nova Scotians for many more years to come. Surely an enlightened society would be more concerned with what is than what isn’t.

  6. The people of Nova Scotia have a right to know the facts, not propaganda, and make their own informed opinion. There is no evidence of any plan to frack shale gas at Lake Ainslie, instead NS Energy department issued Calls for Proposals last year for COAL GAS exploration in Inverness and the Tomkinsville block initiated by interest from the industry to “mine the energy not the coal” right here in Nova Scotia. Consequently, last September leading experts gave presentations at CBU on the environmental risks, the CBC interviewed them, even the company involved spells out the problems with coal gasification in their report, e.g:

    At the most basic level, UCG projects are developed by drilling two wells into the underground coal seam and creating a connection between them. One of the wells injects oxygen or air while the other extracts the gas. A connection between the injector and extractor is normally created by hydrofracturing, where high pressure water (hydro) is used to break up (fracture) the rock. Once the two wells are connected, the operator ignites the coal and then controls its gasification by varying the amount of air let in and the amount of gas that exits.

    The gasification process creates a number of compounds in the coal seam, including phenols and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, carbon dioxide, ammonia and sulphide. These compounds can migrate from the gasification zone and contaminate surrounding ground water.
    UCG is much more difficult to control than conventional gasification as many of the variables (rate of water influx, distribution of reactants in the gasification zone, growth rate of cavity) cannot be controlled.

    When asked how a catastrophic failure may occur and what form it may take, one of the interviewees noted that the most likely scenarios have already take place — catastrophic groundwater contamination at Hoe Creek (Wyoming) and an underground explosion at a European trial site (Spain).

    http://www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20100414005 – Call for Proposals
    http://www.imwa.info/docs/imwa_2010/IMWA2010_Younger_378.pdf – Paul Younger at CBU
    http://www.cbc.ca/informationmorningcb/2010/09/coal-gasification.html – CBC interview
    http://laurusenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Laurus-final1.pdf – Laurus Energy report

    But this and the other coal gas projects listed on the NS government’s webpage about Oil and Gas Activity in Nova Scotia are censored by the fracking shale gas propaganda machine!!! Also not fit to mention is the article on May 12th stating that Triangle’s “Plans for gas drilling in the Windsor area have ceased for the time being, with no set date to start back up.” “There were no wells drilled in 2010. We have no plans to drill any wells … in 2011. The last wells were drilled in 2009.”

    The propagandists will have to work extra hard to keep something that isn’t even happening in Nova Scotia the #1 priority of environmental issues while turning a blind eye to what is happening with fracking COAL gas , and with so many people being driven off their land by strip mining high polluting coal to burn at the powerplants but also completely ignored by the province’s hypocritical environmentalists. The lack of integrity of the propagandists prevents any meaningful discussion of these issues actually happening in Nova Scotia and is part of the problem, not the solution. If the NDP government wanted to distract attention from what’s actually happening in Nova Scotia Maude Barlow’s fracking shale gas bandwagon is certainly doing an excellent job for them, don’t you think?

    Thanks again to Judy for not jumping on the fracking bandwagon and daring to pause for thought and enable discussion of the issue in Nova Scotia.

  7. Dear editor,

    too bad you are not posting my response to Jean Sawyer. I think, it is very important, that people now, that fracking DOES exist in NS. I offered the respective links to prove that. Elmworth and Triangle are the two companies that have fracked as early as 2007 and as late as 2009, if not 2010.

    The government of NS received on March 22 two bids for on shore gas exploration. Explorationg can include actions like fracking. These days, on shore gas drilling is done by hydrofracking in 90% of the cases. The government has up to 90 days (from March 22) to grant the job. Once the explorations are done, an application for the drillings will be needed – but at that time, the government( which had called and invited companies to explore) will only very unlikely let the companies down then. So fracking is almost guaranteed inNS in the future…

    I also send you a quote from the Triangle “Stock Board”: “The Nova Scotia Advantage” I think, it is very important for people to know, that this company is hoping to frack in NS and that they advertise NS as available and cheap. I am heart broken, that you don’t think, this is important. NS is Shambhala, and we need to protect it. Also, last but not least, the fact, that nobody seems to know, and which gets overlooked all the time, is, that THE GAS IS NOT FOR OUR NS MARKET. NS only charges 10% of royalties. The fish is gone. The trees are gone – and now we sell the gas dirt cheap …. is that prosperity? You know, that we don’t own the mineral rigths for the properties we sit on…. they are owned by the government. So whether we “own” Dorje Denma Ling, situated in or very close to the area under discussion for fracking, or not, will not matter. I wish us good luck.

    Sincerely Gerlinde Pilgrimm

  8. Kristine McCutcheon
    Apr 28, 2011

    Thank you all for having this discussion and sharing information.

    I live in Nova Scotia beside an area that will be ‘fracked’. My question is what is a good argument to ensure that a significant percentage of any profits are given to the government of NS or the areas that are affected.

    It is pretty hard to stop the machine from moving along. What would be the most powerful thing to beg for? Is it royalties? Preventative measures? Standards? Ensured clean water sources? Is it protective measures for crown lands or mineral rights?

    Confused and fracked.

  9. We are having similar discussion in Pictou COunty with respect to fracking.

    follow this link for some insight


  10. Natural Gas in Nova Scotia: What’s best for all? Congratulations to Judy for daring to ask such a pertinent question instead of jumping on the fracking bandwagon.

    Where else on planet Earth in 2011 can a government get away with lying through their teeth to justify blasting people out of their homes and polluting their water with methane gas and toxic acid mine drainage while strip mining coastal DNR Crown forests and wetlands for high mercury, high sulphur coal and exempting local power plants from emission regulations to allow burning it in violation of every environmental standard on the planet, and Nova Scotia’s environmental group$ never mention any of it but protest non-existent fracking instead? Best for who?

  11. Ken Summers
    Apr 17, 2011

    Judy quotes Dr. Groats:
    “Given that the fracing occurs thousands of feet below fresh water, it is unlikely that these fluids will find their way to much shallower fresh groundwater. However, if well construction is faulty or if the handling and disposal of produced fluids are not done with strict adherence to regulatory standards, problems can and have occurred.”
    That is Dr. Groat’s OPINION that it is a matter of preventing poor dilling practices, and that otherwise migration of fluids to groundwater layers is “unlikely”.
    The Dr, Groats have passed off field evidence otherwise with ad hoc explanations. That is simply unacceptable as either scince or public policy.

  12. Judy, yet another peace of information…

    Shale gas, produced by “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking,” could create as much as twice the greenhouse gasses as coal, according to a study soon to be published by Cornell University professors.

    Over the past few years, the Washington D.C. consensus has been that shale gas is better for the environment than coal. President Obama has praised natural gas and given it partial credit in his proposed “clean energy standard.”

    But Cornell Prof. Robert Howarth argues in the new study that making natural gas available through “fracking” contributes more to global warming than conventional gas and coal over 20 years.

    Read more


    sincerely Gerlinde

  13. Stephan Hederich, 3082 Balmoral Rd, Tatamagouche, NS, B0K 1V0

    Nova Scotia Department of Energy

    The Minister’s Office

    Bank of Montreal Building,
    Suite 400

    5151 George Street
P.O. Box 2664

    Halifax, NS
    B3J 3P7
    Balmoral Mills, April 11, 2011

    Dear Minister

    In a recent email you sent to Ms Mingo, you stated that:


    “The oil and gas industry is an important part of our energy future as we diversify our energy mix to ensure greater price stability and security of supply. Renewable energy sources will not replace fossil fuels in our lifetime, and oil and gas will continue to be used in our daily lives and in assisting us in balancing the intermittent nature of our wind and tidal resources. “

    The natural gas extraction that your government has offered for bids -and has subsequently received two bids for- has little to do with the security of our own domestic needs. Rather the greatest bulk of it is to be marketed abroad. This information is part of the bid that “Elmworth Energy” submitted to the NS Dept. of Energy, of which you are the Minister, at least at the moment.

    This bid refers to the “Windsor block”.

    You also state, that
    “renewable energy sources will not replace fossil fuels in our lifetime”.

    Looking at the activities of your department, I can only believe that your Department is doing its utmost to make this come true.
    It is very disappointing to observe your department making all efforts to sell the energy resources of Nova Scotia without any need for it and, how that is selling future Nova Scotia generations for a “penny”. Statements by the “Triangle Corp” indicate that the Nova Scotian Government agrees to sell our resources for only 10 % royalties. The province of Alberta claims royalties of an average of 17.5 %.
    Is your home province worth so little to you, or do you have other interests in this case?

    You also state the following:


    “I’d like to point out that we believe that the oil and gas industry can play an important role in providing economic development opportunities and creating good jobs”

    Please allow me to refer to the above-mentioned bid for the “Windsor block”.

    Elmworth Energy is estimating approx. 100 jobs during the construction phase of the gas extraction and approx 15 to maintain up to 300 wells.
    Since the NS government has kept its citizens in the dark regarding the true nature and volume of the planned activities in the Truman, Scotsburn and Malagash blocks, I can only extrapolate the same job promises for our area.

    I strongly believe, therefore, that the jobs that will be lost in agriculture and tourism alone far outnumber the jobs that you are promising.
    You are promising “good” jobs. Rather good jobs will be destroyed first and then, maybe, a few new ones will be created.

    I also would like to stress that nobody that I know of believes in the “job drum” that your class, the political class, always beats when you are trying to “sell” something questionable to us, the people.

    Promising jobs is nothing but an act of despair. I would like to appeal to your genuineness and ask you, kindly, not to do that any more. Please!

    Dear Minister, I am well aware that 90% of all onshore natural gas extraction these days is done by the process of “fracking”. I am sure, that it is not necessary to explain what is meant by “fracking”. By this measure, there is therefore a 90% chance that any natural gas extraction in Nova Scotia would be done by “fracking”. “Fracking” has been done in Nova Scotia in the past, as early as 2007 and as recent as 2010. “Elmworth” or companies hired by “Elmworth” have done so called “micro fracs” in order to explore the potential of the “Windsor Block” in the first half of the last year. And even if you say that there are no bids for “fracking”, we know, that your department has received two bids for onshore gas exploration for the North Shore of NS. Once these companies will decide, that “fracking” would be their choice of exploration, they will apply for that, just as companies did in the Windsor Block. Are you saying, that you may maybe then deny them “their success” after you have let them explore in the first place?

    Nobody can truly foresee the risk that is inherent in the process and nobody can foresee the dangers to future generations.
    Pumping toxic chemicals underneath aquifers is madness and everybody who claims that this has no (negative) impact on the environment is an idiot! -For the simple reason that it is impossible to know or calculate the risk and only an idiot would suggest the possibility of controlling the unpredictable.
    Even the strictest environmental protection measurements will NOT be sufficient to deal with this potential risk. The only measurements that will anticipate this unpredictable threat to our environment and to our most important resource, the water, is a complete ban on “fracking”, now and forever!

    Dear Minister, I am urging you to work towards this. It is in your hands to give the energy policy of Nova Scotia a turn towards a saner future. This province has such a blessed position and therefore opportunity on the globe to produce renewable energy, wind energy and I am convinced that it is possible to replace fossil fuel based energy completely during our lifetime (I am 46). All it takes is bravery and a vision, and the strength to withstand the temptation of the fast dollar.
    These are all attributes of a true leader and a government should consist of true leaders!

    Don’t you think so, too?

    Yours truly,

    Stephan Hederich

  14. Geoffrey May
    Apr 8, 2011

    this is the link to Thrangu Rinpoche’s comments mentioned above

  15. Geoffrey May
    Apr 8, 2011

    following Judy’s lead , I read the Time piece. I can’t agree with her conclusions, It was not balanced,ignoring air quality issues, rural life issues ( 24 hour a day noise and light pollution, accidental dumping of wastewater,and continuing the nonsensical argument that shale gas is a clean energy source, while we wait for a solution to climate change. We don’t need to wait for some future technology, we have clean technologies now.Unfortunately, we also have an energy system dominated by the financial might of the fossil fuel industry . Exxon Mobile, and the Koch brothers are spending untold millions to mislead people about climate science, and the cost of alternatives, to justify pushing earth to the brink .There arguments are spurious, yet by funding think tanks , front groups, web sites, political contributions and ceaseless lobbying, the fossil fuel industry has created an echo chamber of propaganda , culminating in their theft of emails from the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia , which were then highly edited, and then released out of context along with claims that the emails proved fraud on the part of climate scientists . Seven independent investigations exonerated then email authors of any wrong doing , yet climate change deniers continue to site their manufactured “climategate scandal” as proof that the climate isn’t being effected by physics and chemistry .
    The Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, has given as their best estimate, that to avoid runaway greenhouse gas effect, leading to the death of the earths’ biosphere, we need to ensure that our GHG emissions peak, no later than 2016.It would be nice if we could construct the solar , geothermal, wind, hydro and tidal power sources by then, because otherwise, we either reduce our use of fossil fuels, or knowingly condemn our planet, and all sentient beings to a heat death.
    It is worth remembering Thrangu Rinpoche’s discussion of the imbalance of the Earth’s basic elements that humans are engaged in. The Karmapa, and Sakyong Mipham have urged us to action to protect the Earth. Shale gas development , does not address their concerns , however leaving the shale alone does.

  16. See the cover story of Time magazine April 11, 2011 issue. It is a well balance article about shale gas. There are a few inaccuracies like the diagram of the well. And there is an omission: well drillers need to identify the source of the water used to frack a well in their applications. Surface bodies of water and public supplies need to be regulated if they are to be used for this purpose. Respectfully offered, Judy Bond

  17. Geoffrey May
    Apr 7, 2011

    Shale gas has been sold as a solution to climate change, by the very industry that is driving climate change, and investing millions in misleading the public about climate change science. The fact that natural gas burns cleaner than coal, is totally irrelevant to discussions of shale gas emissions. Cradle to grave,as a result of methane releases, natural gas releases , and the fleet of vehicles servicing wells, shale gas has at least as heavy a GHG footprint as coal . In 2009 Barnett shale compressor stations and production activities from 7,700 wells emitted 33,000 tons of Co2 per day, equal to two 750 megawatt coal plants.
    30%-70% of fracking fluids return to the surface , along with brine, naturally occurring arsenic , heavy metals and ( at toxic levels) and radioactive materials , as well as the fracking fluids themselves , which include known carcinogens , mutagens and endocrine disruptor’s.Deep injection disposal of these waters have been linked to earthquakes in the US Southwest .A water pond in Avella Pennsylvania exploded and sent a tower of flame 200 feet into the sky which burned for six hours leaving arsenic at 6,430times permissible levels and carcinogen and immune system suppressant tetrachloroethene at 1,417 times permissible levels. The waste waters are neither recyclable, nor treatable.releases of waste water into sewage treatment facilities have resulted in public health warnings in Pennsylvania
    Regarding geography, Dr. Anthony Ingraffea Phd Rock Fracture Mechanics , points out that most of the gas is in the joints, and that when pressurized fracking fluids reach a joint system, the joints open in unpredictable ways The BC Oil and Gas commission have had 18 reports of communication incidents, where fracking fluids and sands have popped up in wells 670 meters away.
    Dr. Ingraffea also points out that even a properly constructed well is not risk free, pointing out at least 6 things that can go wrong allowing for migration to occur
    Shale gas production produces ground level ozone, smog, asthma and acid rain causing gases .As a result of shale gas Wyoming failed it’s first air quality tests in 2009.
    The NS government is pushing oil and gas exploration.They have issued a lease for Lake Ainslie Bloc. Lake Ainslie is Nova Scotia’s largest freshwater lake, and is part of the Canadian Heritage River’s Margaree Lake Ainslie River System . The lake supports a trout sports fishery, and a commercial gaspereau fishery along the South West Margaree , which feeds the Margaree River, which is home to Atlantic Salmon. These fisheries are very important to the livelihoods of the people who live n this area, where most people rely on tourism, agriculture and the fisheries. The proposed drill site is 100 meters from a drainage ditch leading into the lake . Half of the 100 meters is marked “wet ground” on the company’s map . People are very concerned , not only about fracking but any drilling. The Inverness County Council adopted a resolution prepared by the local chapter Council of Canadians , opposing fracking, drilling, and inappropriate nature of issuing a license without consulting the communities which are effected. The Margaree Environmental Association , has written requesting the withdrawal of the Ainslie Bloc lease, and opposing any oil and gas exploration.The First Nations community in Waycobah made their opposition known.There is a facebook page Protect Lake Ainslie , and we welcome your support
    Thank you for your attention

  18. Charles Gillard
    Apr 5, 2011

    I have read of instances in western Colorado where people have been hospitalized due to ground water contamination from fracing processes…

  19. Fellow sangha members,

    First let me apologize publicly to Cicely to whom I am deeply indebted not only for bringing to our collective attention this shale gas issue via sangha-announce, but also for being my first meditation instructor when I moved to Seattle for a year after attending Naropa Institute, and continuing to be a friend and mentor over the years. I am at fault and regret my unskillful behavior.

    Secondly let me thank those of you who have commented. I will try and address each of your comments individually over the next week. Meanwhile, one of the paragraphs cut from the original piece was a quote from my former boss at the Louisiana Geological Survey who went on to be head of the USGS and now holds an Energy Chair at the University of Texas. Geological Surveys look into local natural resources and advise governments on the feasibilty and safety of mining these resouorces. I recently sought Dr. Groat’s opinion on the matter of mining shale gas via hydraulic fracturing. His response: ” As you may be aware, the first major shale gas development occurred in the Barnett Shale of north-central Texas so we have been dealing with the pluses and minuses for many years. The fracing process and its potential for impacts on groundwater quality has been the most substantial issue and this concern is also present in the Haynesville Shale area of Louisiana and the Marcellus Shale in the northeast. Given that the fracing occurs thousands of feet below fresh water, it is unlikely that these fluids will find their way to much shallower fresh groundwater. However, if well construction is faulty or if the handling and disposal of produced fluids are not done with strict adherence to regulatory standards, problems can and have occurred. There have also been concerns about landscape disruption by drill sites, pipelines, and truck traffic during development, but these are not unique to shale gas. The resource potential is huge in many areas and the technology for extracting it is effective so it is difficult to argue against having a source of relatively inexpensive and clean energy available.”

    Thirdly, in my subsequent research I have learned that in Nova Scotia the mineral rights to a parcel of land belong to the province, not the landowner. In the US, the land owner can keep the mineral rights or sell or lease them. Apparently, the provincial government in Nova Scotia is using its rights and proceeding with onshore natural gas exploration and production. Below is the link to a map that shows the areas involved.
    They pretty much cover the areas where shale is known to outcrop at the surface.


    I encourage anyone who lives in the US to look into this matter in your state and exercise your choice. In Canada it is important to see that there are regulations in place and that they are enforced, if that is the only recourse.

    Respectfully offered, Judy Bond

  20. I don’t think enlightened society can happen on poisonous ground. I wonder what the Earth Dralas think about fracking and about our “me plan life style” in which we consume in great ignorance everything that has been given to us, unafraid of any negative consequences at all.

    Weren’t we told that Nuclear Power Plants are totally safe and good for us?
    Who told us that and why did we want to believe that? Are we taking full responsibility for our views?

    I think Mr. Shotwell said it very well: what makes us hang on to “until” for decades???
    Fracking is good until we finally wake up and realize that we have finished off our globe for nothing much more than comfort and “me”???
    The technology for wind energy etc. has been systematically suppressed, as we all know – too many people make a very nice living on the short-term benefits of oil and gas. Are those the ones who will pay for the clean up? – if there is such a thing –

    The threatening and long-term destructive impacts of Hydraulic Fracking have been well documented and published in many places. In fact, fracking has been banned in various places. At Nova Scotia’s North Shore, the land of Dorje Denma Ling, and the land under discussion for fracking, we have Uranium in the ground. I am sure you know what that could mean for us.

    And please be aware of the following:

    1) Fracking will not create jobs

    the Elmworth Business plan for the Windsor shale in Nova Scotia estimates 15 people to manage 300 wells. They estimate 100 jobs in construction.

    2) Gas will not reduce the carbon footprint of our environment

    the gas is liquefied and much shipped to China. There is excess gas in North America and it is not being used to replace oil as a source of fuel.
    Mrs. Bond, your judgment of the situation and your article is disappointing and rather painful to me.

  21. Harald Dienes
    Apr 3, 2011

    Dear Judy
    Thank you for initiating this discussion. It seems to me that your motivation to write this article was to explore the pros and cons of shale gas extraction. Some contributors here have criticized you for a view that is in support of shale gas extraction. However, I think it is vital to look at this and any other environmental issue from all angles so that our actions are skillful and based on facts and not personal opinions.

    My interest in shale gas was piqued recently with the news of birds falling dead from the sky in several countries. When I heard the ludicrous and misleading explanation that the birds may have been killed by fireworks on New Year’s Eve, I was intrigued enough to search for some possible causes. Soon my investigation led me to shale gas extraction: Shale gas extraction suspected to cause earthquakes and animal deaths: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/7850213-is-hydraulic-fracturing-cause-for-aransas-dead-birds-fish-and-rise-in-earthquakes

    In my search, I have found ample evidence of deliberate spreading of misinformation of vested interests, in particular of the oil and gas industry with an obvious motive. Having said that, if there was a way to extract shale gas without endangering the environment it would help this discussion, if you can provide some evidence of that. You seem to indicate the problems lies with a lack of enforcement of regulations.

  22. Petra Mudie
    Apr 2, 2011

    Dear Judy Bond,

    Thank you for your article suggesting that fracking in Nova Scotia could make our province a shining example of proper resource development. As an environmental marine geologist, recently I attended a science talk on fracking to squeeze the last molecules of hydrocarbons and gas out of Canada’s rocks. Two things struck me hard. 1) Why is the hydrocarbon industry continuing to avoid the inevitable fact that we are eventually going to run out of non-renewable resouces? Fracking is a trillion-dollar profit “stop-gap” measure to fatten the wallets of the petroleum exploration industry – and it leaves behind it a trail of contaminated groundwater, wastewater effluent, deforestation, soil erosion and unknown factors about microseismic activity from underground explosions. “Out of sight, out of mind” is fine for those who do not live near the mines, but it is not a valid situation for local residents. One recent fracking experiment in Canada was halted when some workers were killed on site by an unexpected exposion. 2) Secondly, you say that fracking is needed “to fill the energy gap until renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, tidal, and hydroelectric can be more widely used”. I would like to see that thought turned around. It seems to me that renewable energy sources cannot become widespread until the resources currently devoted to petroleum exploration for fracking, drilling in deeper wateroffshore and the Arctic Ocean are in fact dedicated instead to making alternate sustainable resources available.This indeed would be a shining example of human ingenuity in the face of adversity.

  23. cicely berglund
    Apr 2, 2011

    I would like to say in response to this article that I am really offended by it. No blame to Shambhala Times. Judy, whom I have known for thirty years, and I began corresponding shortly after I posted on the topic to Sangha-announce, exchanging links and information and experience. We are both scientists -exchanging on an equal footing. I am in the thick of this topic, living in the area where drilling will potentially occur. Judy has some experience in past years.I expressed my views on the effects that large industrial development might have in a small area like the North Shore of Nova Scotia, and the political and social ramifications,so she knows that I hold different views from her own. At no time did she indicate to me a current interest in or knowledge of activity her own area of Maryland (I supplied her with links to activity in Maryland),nor any intention to write an article regarding the situation in Nova Scotia.I feel it is a betrayal of our friendship that she chose to go ahead with a contrary view without even letting me know, nor expressing many of the topics we discussed. It was not a balanced presentation of the situation.
    So, my feelings and trust are hurt -big deal. She obviously has the right to express her opinion wherever she would like. Maybe she was just trying to drum up a further conversation -but I feel it was a betrayal of friendship and the integrity of our discussion.

  24. Ken Summers
    Apr 1, 2011


    the award winning documentary is sceening in Halifax
    April 12 7:30 Dalhousie, 1020 Rowe Building,
    corner of University and Seymour.

    Presented by Ecology Action Centre and the Council of Canadians.

    The Nova Scotia Resource and Action Coalition is in the process of setting up a website and blog. Contact me: [email protected] or come to the screening for more information.

  25. To learn the details of well construction and the fracking procedure, google “API hydraulic fracturing video”.
    If you have further questions about geology, ground water, well construction or hydraulic fracturing, I’m happy to answer them or pass them onto someone who can: contact jb at [email protected].

    The question of developing onshore natural gas production anywhere is a complicated issue. What is most beneficial to local sentient beings should be determined by those who live there. We are facing this issue in Maryland as well as Nova Scotia. In the dharma, Judy Bond

  26. Ken Summers
    Mar 31, 2011

    Fracking drilling fluids are made of a cocktail of chemicals that make the fracking process feasible. Presumably for that reason you note that “the local geology should not include faults that could open during fracking and act as conduits to the fresh water.”

    There have only been 5 wells fracked so far in Nova Scotia. They are all in my area, and one [Triangle N-14-A] is a few kilometres from me. 85% of the fluids injected- typically 5 to 6 million litres here- were not recovered. The company figures the lost fluids must have gone into just such a fault. At a typical 2% of chemicals and solvents classified as hazardous wastes, that would be about 100,000 litres that went somewhere…. less then 500 metres from the Department of Natural Resources identified ‘rich wetland’ of Noel Lake.

    Any geologist knows that shale beds are full of folds and fractures. The company did not see any of that in the core samples it brought up before choosing where in the bore to locate the fracture treatment- yet that is what they hit with the treatment. Considering the distance the fractures travel, it is hardly a surprise.

    So it has happened already with a history of just 5 vertical bore test wells- which together do not have the length of fracture treated bore in a single horizontal bore production well. And due to the nature of the gas bearing shale beds, a producing field has at least one hundred such wells.

    Minasville, Nova Scotia [aka ‘Windsor Block’ lease]

  27. Hudson Shotwell
    Mar 31, 2011

    Dear Ms. Bond,

    We’ve lived in Nova Scotia for twenty two years, and while it’s true that in certain contexts the Vidyadhara referenced the natural resources of this place as a source of weath, in my opinion the natural resource he most loved about this province wasn’t fracked gas or clearcut pulp/biomass timber. The greatest natural resource in Nova Scotia is its unrelenting, all-pervasive atmosphere of vast space. You really do have to live here to taste it, and perhaps you have.

    You say, “…until hydroelectric, solar, wind and tide become more feasible.” In my opinion there is no longer an “until” solution to the energy and climate change crisis we face. “Until” was a nice idea in 1970; today there’s no more “until” left. Invoking the “until” is paramount to incantation, as referenced in the link below.

    I strongly disagree that fracking, as one example of “until,” is a worthwhile path to pursue in Nova Scotia, or anywhere else for that matter. Fracking is dandy for more short-term corporate profit, but it’s not a solution to North America’s fossil fuel dilemma. And fracking doesn’t just inject diesel fuel into groundwater, it also induces nausea in anyone who reads up on it, much like the nausea one feels on hearing one more time about the wonder of nuclear power, “clean coal” and carbon sequestration. It’s all a crock. Fracking is a dirty, quick fix, not long for this world and assuredly it’s not for Nova Scotia. You may be interested in the link below, “The Limits of Incantation,” by James Michael Greer, author of “The Long Descent.” He’s talking about the futility of nuclear and coal in his blog, but fracking for nat gas is right in there.


    Yours in using a whole lot less of everything,

    Hudson Shotwell
    Halifax, Nova Scotia

  28. There are a large number of residents in the North Shore area of Nova Scotia which includes Tatamagouche where I reside and I am one of those who oppose this practice. From a film I viewed it appeared that fracking was destroying the Rockies. I get the impression that your report supports fracking as a no-choice option because of our need for energy. As in lets use the gas until renewable sources are able to meet our needs. But you appear to pass over very casually the danger of pollution to ground water. Unless this type of danger is addressed thoroughly and completely so the danger is either eliminated – which is most likely not possible – or so minimal and unlikely, fracking must be stopped, period. Life on earth cannot survive without clean water. Our need for water far outweighs our need for energy – especially fossil fuel energy.

    And your reference as follows: I can’t help but think that the Vidyadhara knew about the vast treasure of elemental energy under, above and around Nova Scotia when he chose it for the birthplace of enlightened society years ago. This might be taken by some readers that the Vidyadhara would have been in favour of fracking. Really Judy, we don’t know and I found this comment objectionable.


  29. cathy doerrman
    Mar 30, 2011

    I understand that in Alabama they have suspended this procedure due to the increase in earthquakes in the area and want to study the possibility of a casual relationship.

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