QUEBEC - The Quebec government has tabled legislation which could impose a moratorium on exploration for shale gas in the St. Lawrence River valley during the next five years.
The bill would prohibit drilling, hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — as well as injection tests.
Environment Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet tabled the legislation in the national assembly on Wednesday.
The moratorium would last for five years or until new regulations on shale gas exploration are in place.
In February, Blanchet announced he had ordered the provincial agency on environmental public hearings to look into the impact of the shale-gas industry.
He says the bill makes the moratorium official.
Although fracking is carried out by companies in the Gaspe and on Anticosti Island, Blanchet said the decision to limit the moratorium to the St. Lawrence lowland came because of opposition by residents to the exploration process.
The minority Parti Quebecois government will have to get the support of one of the other parties in the legislature for the bill to pass.
Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard said the government should wait for the results of the public hearings.
He accused the government of "managing by moratorium."
Coalition Leader Francois Legault said the government is trying to please its supporters with a position based more on ideology than science.