On May 15, 2013, the Minister of Sustainable Development,
Environment, Wildlife and Parks, Mr. Yves-François Blanchet,
introduced Bill 37 in the Québec National Assembly in order
to establish a moratorium on various activities related to shale
natural gas exploration and production in the St. Lawrence
Scope of moratorium
The proposed moratorium would remain in effect until new rules
for hydrocarbon exploration and production are adopted or for a
maximum period of five years. It would apply to all drilling,
fracturing and injectivity testing activities related to
exploration for or production of shale gas. These activities would
thus be prohibited on the territory covered by Bill 37, subject to
a maximum fine of $6,000,000 or a maximum term of imprisonment of
The Bill would not prevent the possibility of carrying out work
for the purpose of repairing, maintaining or closing existing
wells. Moreover, the prohibition would not apply to shale gas
stratigraphic drilling related to exploration for or production of
The moratorium would apply to the territory of 52 municipalities
in the St. Lawrence lowlands. The Government would also have the
power to extend the application of the moratorium to municipal
territories contiguous to those already affected by the Bill.
Furthermore, authorizations previously issued under the
Environment Quality Act (EQA) and well drilling licences,
modification licences or completion licences issued under the
Mining Act would be suspended in so far as they relate to
the activities covered by the moratorium. The authorizations issued
under the EQA could not be transferred, modified or revoked during
the moratorium period. It should be noted that authorizations
issued by the Québec Commission de protection du territoire
agricole (CPTAQ) or municipal bodies would not be affected by the
Context and next steps
The proposed moratorium follows the decision of the previous
Government made public on March 16, 2011 that it would no longer
authorize fracturing activities other than for scientific research
purposes until a Strategic Environmental Assessment on shale gas
has been completed. This de facto moratorium had not
resulted however in the adoption of a specific legislative or
regulatory framework formally prohibiting activities related to
shale gas exploration or production.
Before it can be adopted, Bill 37 will be subject to debate
before a parliamentary commission and it will need to obtain the
support of at least one of the two main opposition parties.
It should be noted that pursuant to a specific provision in the
Bill, the application of the moratorium would entail no right to
compensation from the province of Québec.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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