Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie

When the oil companies meddle in the regulations of the Hydrocarbons Act

7 November 2017

In December 2016, in the middle of the night, Couillard government invoked closure on the adoption of Hydrocarbons Act, regardless of any opinions of the inhabitants of the territory, except the one from his oil and gas friend. Last September, it made public the draft regulations for the implementation of this law, which should come into force by the end of 2017. These regulations allow drilling near inhabited areas and in water bodies, inclined to believe the hands of oil company lobbyists wrote them.

If hydraulic fracturing is undoubtedly old-fashioned, it represents risks as well. The new regulations change the minimum distance between drilling and rivers, lakes, parks, heritage sites, health and education institutions, daycares and homes, a joke that once again, can only force oneself to laugh. Indeed, this drastically short distance of 40 to 275 meters between these publics and life’s spaces and the exploitation of hydrocarbons have enough to leave us perplexed, if not worried about the threat, especially on the water that these ridiculous distances allow to hover over lives and ecosystems. The law state for example a 175 meters between a drilling and a residential area, and a 150 meters distance for an isolated house.  And what next…

Attacking the living and the heart of biodiversity, these measures make the lakes and rivers of the so-called Quebec accessible to oil and gas exploration projects. Nothing is prohibited: drilling on the edge of national parks and protected areas will now be possible. For their part, almost 300 municipalities require that the government renounce to this project in order to protect their drinking water, an exemption that, to our surprise, the government has simply refused to grant them. And yet, they do not require for the operations hydraulic fracturing to stop, but only to respect the distance of 2km between wells and populated areas. 2km!

However the story does not stop there: these draft regulations come to mark the responsibility of companies to predefined amounts in case of environmental and social damage, which, needless to say, are far from representing hypothetical fears. While cleaning up damaged sites is often impossible, companies will have their monetary liability limited by law. Therefore, who will remain with the devastated territory in case of leaks, spills, and accidents?

Thus, these draft regulations bring to light the tangible and direct links between government and extractive companies: promoting fracking, limiting corporate responsibility and allowing drilling at ridiculous distances from homes and living spaces, they formalize the general contempt towards the population and drinking water.

Obviously, Couillard's draft regulations can only remind us the fight against the Petrolia Haldimand 1 and 2 wells in Gaspé. While Petrolia announced last fall the possibility of using hydraulic fracturing at these two wells, the government facilitates the task by royally opening the subsoil door, in a legal way.

When the government joins the oil and gas companies, with no more secrecy, to destroy the territory, what is left for us to be heard? Multiply the initiatives of confrontation? Multiply the actions against the numerous systems of domination, which destroy bodies and territories? To become solidary with the native communities, which are organized on these colonized, looted lands?

In tribute to the victorious struggles against TransCanada's Energy East pipeline from the defenders of the River and the various actions carried out against oil companies in Gaspésie, let’s destabilize extractive companies: their projects, which they sold us like hotcakes, and their narrow visions of a profitable world for white, rich, power-hungry men, which are of course meaningless.

Let’s call for solidarity with people and individuals fighting against these ridiculous structures, these mechanisms of domination and these barriers that interfere with the living.

Long live to the effervescence!

Author: 
PASC