Media Release: Munk School of Global Affairs examines water risks to investors from hydraulic fracturing

TORONTO, May 28, 2014 /CNW/ - The Program on Water Issues at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs will host a conference on the water risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale oil and gas on Thursday May 29, 2014.

The full-day event brings together leaders from environmental, academic and First Nations communities and experts from the scientific, investment, insurance and legal sectors to shed light on fracking for shale oil and gas. In the spotlight: the latest information on the potential for groundwater contamination, the links between fracking and water stress in Western Canada and how transparency and disclosure can minimize water risks.

In fracking operations, companies inject highly-pressurized water, sand and chemicals into shale rock formations to extract unconventional reserves of oil and gas. Fracking has significantly boosted accessible North American energy reserves, propelling industrial output and economic growth and rebalancing geopolitical boundaries in the Middle East and beyond. Thousands of wells are drilled each year in British Columbia and Alberta. The future of shale energy development in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is unclear; the Province of Quebec imposed a moratorium on fracking in 2010.

Recent research finds that the use of fracking for shale oil and gas has far outpaced scientific knowledge of its impact on the environment, regulation, and environmental monitoring. Most recently, the federal Minister of the Environment asked the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) to conduct an independent assessment of potential environmental impacts from shale gas development in Canada. The CCA report, released on April 30, 2014, concluded that fracking for shale gas has the potential to contaminate groundwater and in some regions contribute to water stress.

Scientists' efforts to quantify risks associated with hydraulic fracturing have faced criticism from political and business leaders. However, capital markets are beginning to realize the potential hazards associated with fracking for shale oil and gas.

Institutional investors are growing increasingly concerned about the potential risks and liabilities attached to energy assets and are pressing corporations for greater disclosure. Investment firms are adding environment, social and governance factors to their financial analysis of energy companies. Research last fall from Boston Common Asset Management, the Investor Environmental Health Network and Green Century Capital Management concluded that the oil and gas production industry is consistently failing to report the impact of its fracking operations on communities and the environment.

These and other issues will be addressed at the conference, Water and Hydraulic Fracturing in Canada: Information for Investors and Everyone Else. Speakers include John Cherry, of the Council of Canadian Academies; Steven Heim, of Boston Common Asset Management; Peter Chapman, of the Shareholder Association for Research and Education; Lana Lowe, of Fort Nelson First Nation; Sarah Teslik of Apache Corp.; Dave Hughes, a geoscientist; Russell Gold, of the Wall Street Journal and author and journalist Andrew Nikiforuk.

Media registration opens at 8:15 a.m. at:

The Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility
Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto
1 Devonshire Place

For the agenda, speaker bios and access to the conference webcast: www.powi.ca 

On Twitter: @powi_munk

Additional information about the Munk School of Global Affairs:
www.munkschool.utoronto.ca

Background information links:

Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada, released April 30 by the Council of Canadian Academies:
http://www.scienceadvice.ca/en/news.aspx?id=132

Hydraulic Fracturing & Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers, released February by Ceres:
http://www.ceres.org/issues/water/shale-energy/shale-and-water-maps/hydraulic-fracturing-water-stress-water-demand-by-the-numbers

BC LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) A Reality Check, released Jan 17 by Global Sustainability Research Inc.:
http://www.watershedsentinel.ca/files/files/Hughes-BC-LNG-Jan2014.pdf

Hydraulic Fracturing Report Card: Investors Report on Lack of Disclosure by Oil and Gas Companies on Hydraulic Fracturing Operations, released Nov 2013 by Boston Common Asset Management, Green Century Capital Management and the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN):
http://www.bostoncommonasset.com/news/FrackingReportCard.php
and
http://disclosingthefacts.org

Underground Intelligence, The need to map, monitor, and manage Canada's groundwater resources in an era of drought and climate change, released June 2013 by the Program on Water Issues:
http://powi.ca/powi_events/underground-intelligence-the-need-to-map-monitor-and-manage-canadas-groundwater-resources/

SOURCE: Program on Water Issues, Munk School, University of Toronto

For further information:

For further information or to request interviews contact:
Simon Avery  416-451-2932  swja@outlook.com

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Program on Water Issues, Munk School, University of Toronto

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