Feds studying eco impact of shale gas sector amid Quebec moratorium

MONTREAL – Canada’s natural resources minister says his department is studying the environmental impact of shale-gas exploitation in Quebec.

Speaking to business leaders in Montreal, Joe Oliver says that, of course, it’s up to Quebec to decide what it will do with its own natural resources.

But Oliver says shale gas is abundant in Quebec and that it deserves to be used.

The Quebec government has imposed a moratorium on the shale-gas sector while it awaits the results of a broad environmental review.

Oliver says he hopes the Quebec government will examine the results of the federal research.

Quebec’s new natural resources minister has said she doesn’t believe shale-gas exploration is risky and has not ruled out prohibiting it.

Critics fear the method of exploiting natural gas from shale will create serious environmental problems — including water contamination and a heavy use of water resources.

Oliver says the methods of extracting shale gas — such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — have been used in Western Canada for decades without any incidents of water contamination.

The industry insists that extraction chemicals are only used in small doses and the chances of them seeping into the environment are very slim.