Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada

292 Pages · 2014 · 5.69 MB · English

  • Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada

    E i s G E

    nvironmEntal mpacts of halE as xtraction


    in anada

    The Expert Panel on Harnessing Science and

    Technology to Understand the Environmental

    Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction


    The Expert Panel on Harnessing Science and Technology to Understand

    the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction ii Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada


    180 Elgin Street, Suite 1401, Ottawa, ON, Canada, K2P 2K3

    Notice: The project that is the subject of this report was undertaken with the approval

    of the Board of Governors of the Council of Canadian Academies. Board members are

    drawn from the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), the Canadian Academy of Engineering

    (CAE), and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS), as well as from the

    general public. The members of the expert panel responsible for the report were selected

    by the Council for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance.

    This report was prepared for the Government of Canada in response to a request from

    the Minister of Environment. Any opinions, findings, or conclusions expressed in this

    publication are those of the authors, the Expert Panel on Harnessing Science and

    Technology to Understand the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction, and do

    not necessarily represent the views of their organizations of affiliation or employment.

    Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

    Environmental impacts of shale gas extraction in Canada / The Expert Panel on Harnessing

    Science and Technology to Understand the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction.

    Issued also in French under title: Incidences environnementales liées à l’extraction

    du gaz de schiste au Canada.

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    Issued in print and electronic formats.

    ISBN 978-1-926558-77-6 (bound). ISBN 978-1-926558-78-3 (pdf)

    1. Shale gas industry–Canada. 2. Shale gas industry–Environmental aspects–Canada.

    3. Hydraulic fracturing–Environmental aspects–Canada. I. Council of Canadian

    Academies. Expert Panel on Harnessing Science and Technology to Understand

    the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction, author II. Title.

    TN882.C3E58 2014 338.2'72850971 C2014-901141-5


    This report should be cited as: Council of Canadian Academies, 2014. Environmental Impacts

    of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada. Ottawa (ON): The Expert Panel on Harnessing Science

    and Technology to Understand the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction,

    Council of Canadian Academies.

    Disclaimer: The internet data and information referenced in this report were correct,

    to the best of the Council’s knowledge, at the time of publication. Due to the dynamic

    nature of the internet, resources that are free and publicly available may subsequently

    require a fee or restrict access, and the location of items may change as menus and

    webpages are reorganized.

    © 2014 Council of Canadian Academies

    Printed in Ottawa, Canada

    This assessment was made possible with

    the support of the Government of Canada. The Council of Canadian Academies iii

    The Council of Canadian Academies

    Science Advice in the Public Interest

    The Council of Canadian Academies (the Council) is an independent, not-for-

    profit organization that supports independent, science-based, authoritative expert

    assessments to inform public policy development in Canada. Led by a 12-member

    Board of Governors and advised by a 16-member Scientific Advisory Committee,

    the Council’s work encompasses a broad definition of science, incorporating the

    natural, social, and health sciences as well as engineering and the humanities.

    Council assessments are conducted by independent, multidisciplinary panels of

    experts from across Canada and abroad. Assessments strive to identify emerging

    issues, gaps in knowledge, Canadian strengths, and international trends and

    practices. Upon completion, assessments provide government decision-makers,

    researchers, and stakeholders with high-quality information required to develop

    informed and innovative public policy.

    All Council assessments undergo a formal report review and are published and

    made available to the public free of charge in English and French. Assessments

    can be referred to the Council by foundations, non-governmental organizations,

    the private sector, or any level of government.

    The Council is also supported by its three founding Member Academies:

    The Royal Society of Canada (RSC) is the senior national body of distinguished

    Canadian scholars, artists, and scientists. The primary objective of the RSC is

    to promote learning and research in the arts and sciences. The RSC consists

    of nearly 2,000 Fellows — men and women who are selected by their peers

    for outstanding contributions to the natural and social sciences, the arts, and

    the humanities. The RSC exists to recognize academic excellence, to advise

    governments and organizations, and to promote Canadian culture.

    The Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE) is the national institution

    through which Canada’s most distinguished and experienced engineers provide

    strategic advice on matters of critical importance to Canada. The Academy

    is an independent, self-governing, and non-profit organization established

    in 1987. Fellows are nominated and elected by their peers in recognition of

    their distinguished achievements and career -long service to the engineering

    profession. Fellows of the Academy, who number approximately 600, are

    committed to ensuring that Canada’s engineering expertise is applied to the

    benefit of all Canadians. iv Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada

    The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) recognizes individuals of

    great achievement in the academic health sciences in Canada. Founded in 2004,

    CAHS has approximately 400 Fellows and appoints new Fellows on an annual

    basis. The organization is managed by a voluntary Board of Directors and a

    Board Executive. The main function of CAHS is to provide timely, informed,

    and unbiased assessments of urgent issues affecting the health of Canadians. The

    Academy also monitors global health-related events to enhance Canada’s state

    of readiness for the future, and provides a Canadian voice for health sciences

    internationally. CAHS provides a collective, authoritative, multidisciplinary

    voice on behalf of the health sciences community.


    @scienceadvice Expert Panel on Harnessing Science and Technology to Understand the Environmental Impacts of v

    Shale Gas Extraction

    Expert Panel on Harnessing Science and Technology

    to Understand the Environmental Impacts of

    Shale Gas Extraction

    John Cherry, FRSC (Chair), Director of the University Consortium for

    Field-Focused Groundwater Contamination Research, Associate Director of

    G360 – Centre for Applied Groundwater Research, and Adjunct Professor in

    the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph (Guelph, ON)

    Michael Ben-Eli, Founder & Director of the Sustainability Laboratory

    (New York, NY)

    Lalita Bharadwaj, Associate Professor, Toxicologist, School of Public Health,

    University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, SK)

    Richard Chalaturnyk, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering, Department of

    Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB)

    Maurice B. Dusseault, Part-Time Professor of Engineering Geology, Department

    of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Waterloo (Waterloo, ON)

    Bernard Goldstein, Professor of Environmental and Public Health, Graduate

    School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)

    Jean-Paul Lacoursière, Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering Department,

    University of Sherbrooke (Sherbrooke, QC)

    Ralph Matthews, Professor, Department of Sociology, the University of British

    Columbia (Vancouver, BC); Professor Emeritus of Sociology, McMaster University

    Bernhard Mayer, Professor of Isotope Geochemistry, Department of Geoscience,

    University of Calgary (Calgary, AB)

    John Molson, Canada Research Chair in Quantitative Hydrogeology of Fractured

    Porous Media, Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, Laval

    University (Québec, QC)

    Kelly Munkittrick, Director, Monitoring, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation

    Alliance (Calgary, AB)

    Naomi Oreskes, Professor, Department of the History of Science, Harvard

    University (Cambridge, MA) vi Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada

    Beth Parker, Director, G360 Centre for Applied Groundwater Research,

    University of Guelph (Guelph, ON)

    Paul Young, FRSC, Vice President (Research) & Professor of Geophysics,

    University of Toronto (Toronto, ON) Message from the President vii

    Message from the President

    The development of unconventional oil and gas resources — including shale

    gas — holds prospects for dramatically changing the global energy supply.

    Jurisdictions worldwide are weighing the potential benefits and impacts of this

    development. As the world’s third-largest natural gas producer, fourth-largest

    exporter, and possessing vast shale gas resources of its own, Canada has a major

    stake in this new source of energy.

    The Council of Canadian Academies was asked by the federal Minister of

    Environment to assemble an expert panel to assess the state of knowledge about

    the impacts of shale gas exploration, extraction, and development in Canada.

    In response, the Council recruited a multidisciplinary panel of experts from

    Canada and the United States to conduct an evidence-based and authoritative

    assessment supported by relevant and credible peer reviewed research. As with

    all Council panels, members were selected for their experience and knowledge,

    not to represent any particular stakeholder group. The report does not include

    recommendations, since policy prescription falls outside the Council’s mandate.

    This report and its findings come early in the conversation about the development

    of Canada’s shale gas resources. Council assessments strive for consensus, which

    proved challenging in this case given the number of issues involved, the lack

    of evidence on some of those issues, and rapidly evolving industry practices.

    While this report is far from the last word on this topic, the Council believes

    the Panel has shed light on important matters that need further reflection.

    The report focuses on Canada as a whole but points to significant regional

    characteristics and differences wherever these are relevant. It is the Council’s

    hope that everyone engaged in and concerned about this topic will find value

    in the Panel’s assessment. The Council believes that this report can inform both

    public discussions and a future environmental research agenda on a natural

    resource that could play an important role in the future of several provinces.

    The Council is deeply appreciative of the contributions and assistance it received

    from numerous individuals and organizations throughout the course of its work.

    First and foremost the Council thanks the Expert Panel members who gave

    generously of their time and expertise for this challenging assessment, as well

    as the peer reviewers who commented on a draft of the report. The Council is

    grateful to Mark D. Zoback, Professor of Geophysics, Stanford University, and

    to Jennifer Miskimins, Associate Professor, Petroleum Engineering Department, viii Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada

    Colorado School of Mines, for their insight and counsel throughout the

    assessment. The Council also wishes to acknowledge the many other individuals

    and organizations that provided helpful advice throughout this assessment.

    Elizabeth Dowdeswell, O.C., President and CEO

    Council of Canadian Academies

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