Anti-Fracking Candidate George Heyman Wins NDP Riding Nomination

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Read this column from Vaughn Palmer in The Vancouver Sun on former BCGEU president and current Sierra Club BC leader George Heyman’s victory in Sunday’s Vancouver-Fairview NDP riding nomination. (Oct. 22, 2012)

VICTORIA — B.C. New Democrats have nominated a leading critic of expanded natural gas production as a candidate for the next election, setting the stage for a showdown over the practice known as fracking.

George Heyman, who won the party nomination in Vancouver-Fairview Sunday, has been one of the leaders in the fight against hydraulic fracturing, the growing practice of extracting natural gas from shale deposits by injecting the rock with water at high pressure.

Fracking accounts for about half of the natural gas production in B.C. and is the key to future expansion and hopes of exporting the product in liquefied form to markets in Asia.

But as executive director of Sierra Club BC, Heyman has challenged the “rapid expansion of fracking, without sufficient oversight and scientific review to address the long list of threats and risks.”

During his tenure, the club toured the province with Gasland, a U.S.-made anti-fracking documentary that illustrates concerns about gas contamination of groundwater with sensational footage of tap water being set on fire as it flows from a faucet in somebody’s home.

“Fracking is referred to by some as ‘the Tar Sands of Natural Gas’ in terms of the water and energy resources needed to extract the hard-to-reach shale deposits,” declared the club in calling for a moratorium on the practice.

“The B.C. government needs to take a huge step back from their aggressive pursuit of unconventional gas and fracking to allow time to better understand the impacts, keep B.C.’s northeast from becoming a fragmented wasteland of gas wells, respect indigenous rights and protect the health of northern residents.”

Heyman reiterated the call on the eve of the NDP nomination meeting in Fairview.

“I’m not proposing that we don’t sell any gas,” he told reporter Carlito Pablo from the Georgia Straight. “I am proposing that we stop the expansion of new frack wells until we have an appropriate public study on the health impacts, the community impacts, the water impacts, and the climate, greenhouse-gas-emissions impact.”

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