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Nova Scotia energy minister Andrew Younger. Image courtesy of Nova Scotia Government/Youtube.

The government of Nova Scotia is moving forward with an extension on a high-volume hydraulic fracking ban that was set to expire at the end of the year.

However, the ban has an exemption that would permit fracking for testing and research purposes.

The ban has been in place since April 2012.

Nova Scotia’s energy minister Andrew Younger said the exemption would not automatically clear the way for all testing and research drilling.

“Anybody could come to the door and ask for whatever they want. What this allows is for cabinet to consider a research project only,” Younger said.

Since 2007 only three fracking test wells have been drilled in Nova Scotia. All three wells were drilled by Colorado-based Triangle Petroleum in the the Kennetcook area and came up dry.

The Nova Scotia government will spend the next three months drafting regulations that define high-volume fracking and lay out how the government can consider lifting the ban.

Younger said the ban will not be lifted until the government is convinced that fracking can be performed safely under strict rules and regulations.