Quebec to hold hearings on exploration and exploitation of shale gas

QUEBEC – The Quebec government has ordered public hearings on the exploration and exploitation of shale-gas reserves.

Environment Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet says the bureau of public hearings on the environment has been asked to convene the hearings next year.

The government will also table a bill to formalize a moratorium on shale-gas exploration in the St. Lawrence River valley in advance of legislation that will regulate the industry.

Petroleum activities are not covered by the moratorium.

The examination of shale gas activities was initially started under the previous Liberal government and the 78 studies completed will be forwarded to the public hearings bureau.

Natural Resources Minister Martine Ouellet expressed concerns last fall about potential conflicts of interest in the previous group looking at the industry.

However, Blanchet says the government has confidence in the current process.

The studies are to be completed by the end of the year and then several months of hearings are planned before the government crafts legislation to regulate the industry.