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NEWS RELEASE · 23rd September 2011
The federal government is launching two reviews of a controversial natural gas drilling practice known as fracking, to address concerns it may be damaging to the environment.

Fracking releases natural gas from shale deposits deep underground by blasting large volumes of fresh water, sand, and chemicals into the rocks at high pressure.

Hydraulic fracturing, or "hydro-fracking," is a form of natural gas extraction in which a pressurized mix of water and other substances is injected into shale rock formations or coal beds to release trapped natural gas.

A fluid mixture of water and chemicals is injected under high pressure deep underground, creating or widening fissures in the rock.

Then, sand or other solids, often ceramic beads, are pumped in to keep the fissures propped open so that methane gas can escape from pores and fractures in the rock.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent has asked Environment Canada and a panel of independent scientists with the Council of Canadian Academies to conduct two parallel studies of its environmental impacts.

"We also need to know a great deal more...about this. What I'm trying to do now is accumulate the best scientific information about [it] to make sound decisions," said Kent.

Concerns about fracking's impact on the environment and ground water supplies have led to bans on the practice in Quebec, New York and France.

But in northern B.C. fracking for shale gas is a booming, billion-dollar industry that's growing rapidly with the full support of Premier Christy Clark.

"Fracking is safely regulated in British Columbia," Clark said earlier this September during an oil and gas announcement.

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