Earlier this year, Environment Minister Peter Kent stated in the House of Commons that the federal government was going to look more carefully at shale gas extraction, and in particular the impact of fracturing technology.

This week, he announced the federal government's next steps.

First, Minister Kent will ask the Council of Canadian Academies to conduct an independent expert panel assessment of the current state scientific knowledge related to the environmental impact of fracturing technology.

He is also asking Environment Canada to conduct a similar in-house study. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers stated that they appreciated the level of scrutiny that shale gas faces with the public, and that they were confident that industry practices would stand up to scientific examination.

In an interview with the CBC, Minister Kent recognized that the regulation of shale gas extraction was generally within provincial and territorial jurisdiction and that the federal government's interest was limited to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, as well as with respect to significant accidents. He also rejected the idea of imposing a moratorium on shale gas development, similar to moratoriums now in place in Quebec, New York and France.