THE GOVERNMENT OF QUÉBEC ANNOUNCES ITS ACTION PLAN TO OVERSEE THE SHALE GAS INDUSTRY
Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, August 29, 2010 – The Deputy Premier, Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife and Minister responsible for the Northern Plan, Nathalie Normandeau, and the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Pierre Arcand, today announced a series of actions the government of Québec will be implementing to ensure sustainable development of the shale gas industry. These actions include a plan to consult the public and partners on the manner in which shale gas exploration and development activities will be controlled.
1 - The Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE) mandate
“The BAPE commission will examine the concerns of the public, municipalities, groups and organizations in a neutral and independent manner. This will ensure that the information necessary for an in-depth assessment is compiled, shared and discussed transparently and responsibly. The BAPE will be submitting its report to me on February 2011. The report will contain the commission’s recommendations of how to oversee the shale gas industry to ensure protection of the environment and respect for the public”, confirmed Minister Arcand.
2 - Three advisory committees
Over the fall, in addition to the BAPE mandate, the government will continue its work to draft the anticipated Hydrocarbons Act. This work will be carried out in cooperation with municipalities, the public, industry, agriculture and environmental groups. These interests have been grouped into 3 three advisory committees, including a hydrocarbon liaison committee, an environmental advisory committee and an advisory committee comprised of industry representatives.
As Minister Normandeau announced last April, the hydrocarbon liaison committee is comprised of elected officials from three administrative regions located between Montréal and Québec City, where the natural gas potential is significant – the Chaudière Appalaches, Centre-du-Québec and Montérégie-Est regions – as well as representatives of the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) and Québec municipal and government agencies. Like the environmental advisory committee and the advisory committee comprised of industry representatives, the liaison committee will be commissioned to examine the environmental, social and economic challenges of hydrocarbon exploration and development. Each committee will submit its opinion and recommendations on which provisions should be included in the draft legislation pertaining specifically to hydrocarbons, for purposes of overseeing current activities to develop Québec’s gas resources.
“By creating three advisory committees, the government is stressing the importance of conducting consultations with the partners concerned. Our hope is that Québec will introduce methods to develop its hydrocarbon potential that are in compliance with the highest environmental and social standards. The committees’ deliberations and recommendations are therefore, in our opinion, crucial”, added Minister Normandeau.
3 – Information for elected officials and the public
In mid-September, information will be provided through various forms of media to elected officials and the public for access to complete and reliable information about the shale gas industry. A government website will be set up to shed light on shale gas. A comprehensive information guide prepared for municipalities and a document clearly detailing the government’s courses of action will also be published. The Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife will also be meeting with local elected officials and concerned citizens to present these information tools and to answer their questions. During these meetings, the Minister will be accompanied with experts from the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs and specialists from the Ministère de la Sécurité publique.
4 – Memorandum of understanding with industry
During the fall, the government will also be signing a memorandum of understanding with the shale gas industry. This document will detail the best practices the industry will be required to implement for natural gas exploration and development in Québec. This will involve a social agreement between industry, government and the public.
A cautious and disciplined approach
Hydrocarbon development is one of the priorities outlined in the Québec Energy Strategy 2006-2015, which came forth as a result of a comprehensive consultation process. Québec currently imports all of the hydrocarbons it consumes. The cost associated with these oil and natural gas imports rose from $12 billion in 2005 and 2006 to $14 billion in 2008. The aim of the Québec Energy Strategy is to reduce Québec’s dependence on the supply of hydrocarbons and reduce its exposure to international risks.
“Québec is firmly committed to a continuous and progressive decline of its dependence on hydrocarbons and is investing enormously in renewable energies. It is important to be realistic, however, since our need for hydrocarbons will continue to persist for a few decades to come. Introducing a natural gas exploration and development system based on the world’s best practices and methods will bolster our position as leaders in energy production and generate significant economic and social benefits for Québec and its regions”, concluded Minister Normandeau.
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