B.C.'s independent MLAs are taking this week's break of the legislature to explore the issues surrounding unconventional natural gas development in B.C.'s Peace Region.
Bob Simpson (MLA for Cariboo North) and Vicki Huntington (Delta South) hope this visit to the Montney Shale region and the meetings they will have with stakeholders will give them an opportunity to learn firsthand about the natural gas extraction process in B.C.
"Last Spring, Vicki Huntington and I joined together to ask Premier (Christy) Clark to convene a special committee of the legislature to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into fracking," said Simpson.
"As there has been no indication Premier Clark has considered our request, our itinerary aims to achieve an impartial understanding of the industry and its effects, and provide a platform to share our findings with British Columbians."
"Modern fracking technology comes with the potential for environmental harm, but also for economic development," said Huntington.
"We need a comprehensive and pre-emptive approach which assesses risk and cumulative impacts of fracking and ensures we have the right public policy and regulations in place to protect the environment and human health and safety."
Pat Pimm, MLA for Peace River North, will host the two independent MLAs on a portion of their tour and will be joining them in meetings with the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and on a tour of the CCS waste disposal facility.
In addition, the independent MLAs will meet with representatives of B.C. Hydro for a discussion of the proposed Site C dam.
Huntington and Simpson will visit the Williston Reservoir where two pipelines have been approved to remove fresh water for fracking activities around Hudson's Hope, an area the MLAs will tour with local residents. They will also meet with the Peace Environment & Safety Trustees Society.
"We hope the trip will give us a much deeper understanding of the processes involved, the economic benefits and the environmental and health implications associated with the extraction of B.C.'s shale gas resources so we can make recommendations to government on areas where public policy may need to be strengthened," said Simpson.