Archbishop Ron Cutler has given his support to a campaign against the lifting of a moratorium on fracking in Nova Scotia.
“Sometimes we don’t raise our voices in what might be seen as political arenas, but…this goes back to our whole concept of creation. We believe that God is involved in creation. As a Christian, I believe that the world matters to God,” said Cutler, diocesan bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and metropolitan (senior bishop) of the ecclesiastical province of Canada.
Cutler is one of 40 representatives of community groups that signed a letter opposing the lifting of the 2014 ban on hydraulic fracking for oil and gas. Fracking is the extraction of oil or gas from subterranean rocks, through the use of high pressure liquid to force open fissures. It is opposed by environmentalists because of the damage it can cause to the environment.
In January, Nova Scotia’s Premier Stephen McNeil had been quoted as saying that if “communities decide that they’re going to give us social license for fracking to happen, we’d be happy to join them.”
Energy Minister Geoff MacLellan, for his part, said he was “looking forward to the debate on fracking” following the publication of an onshore petroleum atlas for the province that identified 4.3 trillion cubic feet of shale gas.
Both McNeil and MacLellan later said the moratorium was still in place.
“We haven’t finalized the regulations for that fracking ban,” MacLellan told the Truro Daily News. “There is no suggestion whatsoever that the government is moving off of that position. We made the commitment that we would conduct the work around an onshore atlas [to show] where the resource potentially could be and what potential quantities there could be and that we would make that public to the private sector and all Nova Scotians.”
Cutler explained his opposition to fracking during an interview on News 95.7’s The Rick Howe Show.
Having read documents and material on both sides of the debate, Cutler said he concluded that “there is no way you can pump millions of litres of water, with toxins in it, under high pressure underground, and then expect no consequences for that.”
He added, “There are bound to be levels of pollution, both in ground water and ground-level air pollution, and I think the risks are simply too great.”
Cutler said the church’s care for creation was linked to the Anglican Church of Canada’s baptism vows, one of which is to “strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth,” taken from the Anglican Communion’s fifth mark of mission. “I would hope that anybody who makes a baptismal vow could live by all of them.”
He also defended the right of the church to speak out on political matters. “The church is involved in people’s lives,” he said, “or maybe I should say, the people of the church are the ones involved in aspects of everything that affects their daily life. Faith is not a separate component of people’s lives; it is woven through everything they do.”