In their first quasi-public appearance in Hawke’s Bay, TAG Oil and Apache Corporation will make a presentation on Wednesday the 25th at 1pm to the HB Regional Council.
I say “quasi-public” because this is not truly a public forum. TAG and Apache have yet to front up in a public forum in Hawke’s Bay where informed citizens can press the companies to respond to tough questioning. Wednesday’s session is actually a briefing, and any questions asked will be those posed by our Regional Councillors.
When fracking was first brought before the Council (at the insistence of members of the public) back in October, it was clear that our Councillors knew diddly-squat about the issue. In October, Councillors were promised a staff report on the issue … if there’s been one, it hasn’t surfaced publicly. It will be interesting to see which Councillors have done any homework on the matter.
Because there are dozens of questions that should be put to Tag Oil about every stage and aspect of the proposed exploration — use, handling storage and transport of toxic chemicals; sourcing of the water needed for the fracking process, as well as disposal of contaminated water afterwards; risks of increased earthquake activity; danger to aquifers; the potential extent of fracking; any risk/benefit assessment that has been conducted for Hawke’s Bay; who pays for what, especially if disaster strikes; extent of Regional Council (or any government) monitoring of the process … just to get warmed up.
In addition, the Regional Council needs to make clear exactly what its role and responsibilities are in this process; indicate what opportunities, if any, exist for public consultation before any required Regional Council decisions are made; and indicate from where HBRC will get the expertise required to play a rigorous oversight role.
Many in the community are alarmed at the prospect of fracking in our region, as well as the stealthy manner in which it has been introduced. A protest rally is planned for Noon on Wednesday at Clive Square in Napier for those concerned.
If you want to know more about fracking, check out our article reporting on the anti-fracking presentation made to the Council back in October by members of the public. It includes several links explaining the process and illustrating why legitimate concerns are being raised.
P.S. And here are some more recent links:
EPA theorizes fracking-pollution link — Associated Press
Fracking will poison New York’s drinking water, critics warn — The Guardian