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No moratorium on fracking: Dix forced to clarify NDP position

Workers assemble high-pressure pipe at hydraulic fracturing operation near Bowden, Alta., in February 2012. B.C. is planning to ramp up its own fracking activities.

Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail

The B.C. NDP has clarified its position on hydraulic fracking after a candidate said the party would place a two-year moratorium on the practice.

Charlie Wyse, the NDP candidate in Cariboo-Chilcotin, made the statement about the process – which entails using high-pressure fluids to fracture rock formations and extract gas from the ground – at an all-candidates meeting on Friday in Bridge Lake.

"The position of the NDP is that there will be a moratorium put on fracking for the next two years while the science will be brought together to find out the effect, if anything, that fracking has on the water table," he said.

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Energy Minister Rich Coleman played audio of Mr. Wyse's statement at a news conference Monday morning, using it to further the B.C. Liberal narrative that an NDP government would not grow the economy.

"Right now, in northeastern B.C., there are companies spending hundreds of millions of dollars drilling for natural gas to build the basis for this resource," Mr. Coleman said. "They've just been told by the NDP that they intend to shut them down."

However, NDP Leader Adrian Dix said just moments later that Mr. Wyse had simply "misspoke" about the matter.

"The words in our platform are clear, the words we have expressed for a number of years are clear," he said at a campaign event in Vancouver. "We don't support a moratorium on hydraulic fracking. One candidate made a mistake. The fact is, what we're proposing is a science-based review [on fracking]."

The B.C. Liberals have claimed the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry would generate up to $100-billion in revenue for the provincial government over the next 30 years. However, critics have called the figure overly optimistic, citing major competitors in Qatar, Russia and Australia.

The NDP position on major energy initiatives has been garnering a substantial amount of attention over the past week. On Tuesday, Leonard Krog, the NDP candidate in Nanaimo, tweeted that the party wants a review of the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline. The next day, he clarified the party's position, saying the NDP would not review the existing pipeline.

After Friday's radio debate at CKNW, Mr. Dix was pressed by reporters for not being clear on where he stood on the Kinder Morgan pipeline project, despite saying earlier in the week he was opposed to it. Going into Monday night's debate, this lack of clarity will likely be the focus of many of Liberal Leader Christy Clark's attacks.

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About the Authors
News reporter

Based in Vancouver, Andrea Woo is a general assignment reporter with a focus on multimedia journalism. More

News reporter

Daniel Bitonti is a Vancouver-based reporter with The Globe and Mail. Before joining the bureau, Daniel spent six months on the copy desk in the Globe’s Toronto newsroom after completing a journalism degree at Carleton University. More

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