Investigative Journalist Andrew Nikiforuk was in Lacombe discussing the negative impacts of fracking on rural communities. The talk was part of Burman University’s Herr Lecture Series. (Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express)

Journalist warns $260B worth of fracking liabilities could be dumped on taxpayers

Journalist Andrew Nikiforuk has studied the economic, environmental effects of fracking since 2004

Andrew Nikiforuk has dedicated himself to investigating the fracking industry in Canada, particularly in Alberta and British Columbia.

Nikiforuk, who spoke in Lacombe on Tuesday as part of Burman University’s Herr Lecture Series, argues the oil and gas fracking industry has created a financial challenge.

“It has driven down the price of both oil and gas. And at the same time, the technology is high cost,” Nikiforuk, an investigative journalist who has won seven National Magazine Awards and the Governor General’s award for non-fiction, said of fracking.

“Most companies that have gone into fracking are short of cash, highly indebted and barely making a go of it.”

Nikiforuk says indebted fracking companies are a problem for municipalities and the province because they don’t pay the taxes they owe, they do not reclaim aging oil and gas wells, and they do not pay their service leases to landowners.

This has resulted in more than $260 billion in liabilities for the province of Alberta.

“They are a drain on rural communities,” he said.

Nikiforuk said that no Alberta government has had a strategy to address the issue. He said the current government has chosen to blame low commodity prices on the federal government and environmental groups.

Nikiforuk said it is human nature to find a scapegoat, but believes liabilities will affect everyone.

“Two-hundred-and-sixty billion dollars worth of liabilities is going to be dumped on taxpayers and that should not be happening.

“The regulator said that wouldn’t happen. Well, I am sorry, guys — it is happening big time. The regulator didn’t do its job,” he said.

Nikiforuk also connects a relationship between fracking technology and the creation of earthquakes.

”About 80 per cent of the earthquakes in Alberta today are the product of fluid-injection in one form or another, whether that is wastewater disposal, acid gas injection or hydraulic fracturing,” Nikiforuk said.

The province has recently instituted a traffic light system, which is supposed to prevent large-scale earthquakes and hold companies responsible, but Nikiforuk said this not enough, due to the unpredictable nature of seismic activity.

”You can’t control the timing of these things and no one has a clue where all the faults are. This is a high-risk activity,” he said.



todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Repeat rent-dodger dubbed ‘professional squatter’ prompts call for reform

HALIFAX — A Halifax coffee shop owner who says he tried for… Continue reading

Alberta introduces legislation allowing access to partner’s criminal records

EDMONTON — Alberta is introducing legislation first developed in Britain that allows… Continue reading

Pilot projects to improve communication links between RCMP and community peace officers underway

Communciations gaps have been raised as safety concern by rural municipalities

Broncos families head to Alberta legislature to fight for trucking changes

EDMONTON — Alberta families affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash say… Continue reading

Cannabis edibles and vaping are on the way

Red Deer stores welcome opportunity to educate

Your community calendar

Wednesday Red Deer River Naturalists Flower Focus Group Meeting. When: Oct. 16… Continue reading

Repeat rent-dodger dubbed ‘professional squatter’ prompts call for reform

HALIFAX — A Halifax coffee shop owner who says he tried for… Continue reading

Beef recall expands as Toronto slaughterhouse co-operates with food watchdog

A large recall of raw beef and veal products continued to expand… Continue reading

Alberta introduces legislation allowing access to partner’s criminal records

EDMONTON — Alberta is introducing legislation first developed in Britain that allows… Continue reading

A&W reports slower sales growth while net income falls short of expectations

VANCOUVER — A&W Revenue Royalties Income Fund saw sales growth slip in… Continue reading

Broncos families head to Alberta legislature to fight for trucking changes

EDMONTON — Alberta families affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash say… Continue reading

Gardening: Keep your trees free from snow

Plants react differently to late snowfalls in the spring and early ones… Continue reading

2 writers claim they deserve credit on Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’

NEW YORK — There’s a debate about the truth behind Lizzo’s “Truth… Continue reading

Most Read