• FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        PRESS RELEASE                        APRIL 3, 2012

    FREDERICTON SHALE GAS PARADE LAUNCHES MUNICIPAL BLUE RIBBON CAMPAIGN

    Fredericton, N.B., Canada - The movement against shale gas development is moving into the municipalities. Citizens in Fredericton are asking their municipal candidates for Mayor and Councilors to take a stand on protecting the city’s air and water.  To launch this election initiative, a parade of cars and trucks, followed by bicycles and pedestrians, will travel through downtown Fredericton this Thursday, April 5th at 12 noon.

    People will gather at the parking lot beside the Old Burial Grounds at 51 Woodstock Road. The action will begin at 12 noon. The route will proceed down King Street, around the New Brunswick Legislature, and then up Queen Street to Fredericton City Hall. Vehicles and people will be decked out in blue balloons, blue ribbons, blue streamers, blue water jugs, and lots of signs. This parade will be the official launch of the Blue Ribbon Campaign here in Fredericton.

    The Blue Ribbon Campaign is a grassroots action that is spreading to villages, towns, and cities across New Brunswick. With the growing enthusiasm of this campaign, organizers foresee similar actions throughout New Brunswick during the lead-up to municipal elections. The colour blue symbolizes that citizens will be voting for the Mayor and Councilor candidates who include in their platform a Ban or Moratorium on shale gas development.  On May 14th we will be voting for change.  Elected representatives and candidates will be invited to join the parade and publicly demonstrate that they will stand up to protect our air and water.

    “The cost to human health, our air and water, our global climate, and our local economy are simply too great to remain quiet. Regulations are unable to protect us from the certainty of air pollution in the low-lying valley of Fredericton. And the aquifer from which we draw our drinking water extends far outside the Fredericton city limits into large tracts of shale gas exploration areas”, says Fredericton resident Sarah Boucher. “It is time for health and business organizations, churches, and politicians to speak up and join the largest grassroots movement that New Brunswick has ever seen.”

    “Politics has no place in human health and safety. Almost all municipalities in New Brunswick have not taken an official stand on shale gas.  Pressure from citizens has caused Minto, Hampton, Sackville, and Sussex Corner to hold Council votes and all four now have a moratorium or ban in place. It is time for Fredericton to do the same”, says Fredericton resident Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy.

    Low turnout in most municipal elections means that seats can be won or lost by only a few hundred votes or less. Many seats are won by acclamation.  In the last Quadrennial Municipal Elections on May 12, 2008, the average voter turnout was forty-eight percent for contested municipal and rural community elections (a low of twenty-eight percent and a high of seventy-seven percent).  One hundred and seventy candidates (170) ran for one hundred and four mayoral (104) positions; Eight hundred and eighty-nine (889) candidates ran for five hundred and thirty-seven (537) council positions; Fifty-three (53) mayors and one hundred and ten (110) councilors were elected by acclamation.

    “Let's put our local councilors on notice that they need to speak up and protect our air and water,” says organizer Mark D’Arcy. “Election date is May 14, 2012.”

    Media Contacts:

     

    Mark D’Arcy
    Tel. 506 454 5119
    markandcaroline@gmail.com

     

    Terry Wishart
    Tel. 506 238 4001
    t.wishart@banfrackingnb.ca

  • How low is the Alward Government prepared to stoop?

    Non-violent civil disobedience is no match for thumper trucks. Twelve New Brunswick activists found this out the hard way, after being arrested Friday morning. This brings to 20 the number arrested in the past two weeks.

    While partaking in a sunrise ceremony in a roadside field at the intersection of highways 116 and 126 in rural New Brunswick, many ran onto the road to prevent thumper trucks from passing by the area where a sacred fire had been burning since Wednesday.

    Thumper trucks are being used by SWN Resources Canada to detect the presence of shale gas deep beneath the Earth’s surface.

    According to scientific evidence, shale gas extraction leads to degradation of land, water, and air.

    Among those arrested was pipe-carrying St. Mary’s Maliseet Ron Tremblay, a respected elder and spiritual leader in his community. The pipe carries the same meaning as the rosary in the Catholic faith.

    Although disappointing, these new arrests should come as no surprise to any who have been following the Alward government’s handling of this file. With not a single word mentioned about shale gas in the Progressive Conservative’s 2010 party platform, the Alward government has no clear mandate to pursue shale gas exploration and mining.

    Yet, this government has refused (with the exception of one riding) to consult with Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals on this issue.

    It has ignored petitions sent to its members in the Legislative Assembly asking for it to cease and desist.

    It even tried to suppress a report produced on the health effects of this industry by its own public health officer.

    And now, it is being complicit in the arrest of an Aboriginal spiritual leader whose only crime was having to resort to non-violent civil disobedience in order to protect what is sacred for all of us—our land, water, and air.

    New Brunswickers deserve far better than this. An information session on shale gas mining is being organized Wednesday, June 19th at the Club 50 Plus, Route 535 in Cocagne starting at 7:00 pm. The public is invited to attend.
  • Public Release

    Q. Why this protest?

    A. Over the last year, the NB government has not given any indication that it is willing to ban or impose a moratorium on hydrofracking, despite mounting evidence on the threats it poses. We want to remind our government in the opening of the Legislature that the people of NB have not given their consent to go ahead with this industry, and that we still demand an immediate stop to any further exploration or development.

    Q. What is the big deal about hydro-fracking?

    A. Fracking is an inherently contaminating industrial process that injects trillions of liters of water laced with toxic chemicals at enormous pressure to break apart rock and release hydrocarbons from underground formations such as shale and sandstone. Part of this toxic water, which may afterwards contain heavy metals and naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs) from the rock it opened, flows back to the well head and has to be tracked out and treated for safe disposal. NB lacks any such treatment facility, and even if it existed, there is no way to treat NORMs.

    Q. Are there other concerns?

    A. Yes. We are talking about unconventional gas (and possibly oil) reserves than can only be exploited through a massive network of wellpads spaced every mile or so and that will require clear-cutting, 24-hour noise and light pollution, huge amounts of truck traffic (and thus accidents and road damage) and permanent alterations of the landscape of rural NB. Furthermore, many of these wells are statistically bound to fail and leak methane and other compounds through the well casing, thus contaminating groundwater. The air quality of the entire area is also bound to decrease through toxic emissions from the well operations, which include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause cancer.

    Q. How can you tell that the people have not given their consent?

    A. In the first place, there is no explicit mention of shale gas in the PC 2010 electoral platform. There is a just a call for ’responsible‘ development of NB Natural Gas reserves. Given the available evidence, ‘responsible’ would be to apply the precautionary principle and call for a moratorium as the government of Quebec has done. So they are not even honouring the call in their platform.

    Second: In November last year a petition for a ban on shale gas that nearly 20,000 people signed was tabled at the Legislature, which, by the way, were completely ignored. This is the largest collection of signatures that has ever taken place in NB on an environmental issue.

    And third, a year ago, a CBC poll of 1,800 New Brunswickers indicated that 80 percent thought environmental concerns outweigh the desire for revenue from hydro-fracking; 74 percent thought hydro-fracking should not continue, and 61 percent called for a total ban on fracking. So it is clear they cannot get the people’s consent, that’s probably why they haven’t asked for it yet.

    Q. But Dr. Louis LaPierre ruled out a moratorium in his report and calls for a phased approach, what do you have to say about this?

    A. Dr. LaPierre based his recommendation on a false assumption, namely that evidence from other jurisdictions cannot be extrapolated to New Brunswick and therefore we need to allow the industry to experiment here. What we see through the facts is that different shale plays behave very similarly both in the economics, which are systematically hyped, and in the environment, where problems are continuously surfacing. It is absurd to think that the NB case will not follow this pattern.

    Q. But couldn’t this pattern be reversed by the tough regulations the Government has promised?

    A. Unfortunately, regulations have no effect on human error or the laws of physics and chemistry. In other words, no regulations can prevent a blowout, a spill or a truck crash, or, accidents apart, the cement casing of a well to deteriorate with time and leak, or the VOCs emitted from a wellsite to travel for tens of kilometers around. In any case, rather than strengthening existing regulations, the government is dismantling them through the introduction of loopholes in environmental legislation that in fact make way for the shale gas industry.

    Q. This gutting of legislation is a serious accusation, can you please elaborate?

    A. On March 16, 2011, then Environment Minister Margaret-Ann Blaney introduced a Natural Resources wetland map that does not show more than 60% of the wetlands in NB, breaking the province's own regulations on wetlands protection and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).

    On July 13, 2011, Minister Blaney notified a network of 19 watershed groups that their 10-year project work to develop a Water Classification Program was dropped because the regulations would be too difficult to enforce. This would have provided the regulatory framework for watershed protection. On November 13, 2012, Minister Bruce Fitch received final public input on their plans to exempt shale gas operations from the provincial Clean Air Act.

    Q. Finance Minister Blaine Higgs has recently pointed to the shale gas industry as an area the province could tap into for additional revenue to tackle the debt. Also, Premier Alward said on November 7th at the Minerals and Petroleum Conference in Fredericton that "Shale gas is our only path to prosperity". Do you agree with them?

    Absolutely not. Government bases these prospects on hyped industry estimates. Data from the US now show that the frenzy of drilling for shale gas in many states has not been the economic boom that industry claimed. In a study that Deborah Rogers, a renowned financial analyst, showed in her recent talk in Fredericton on the 40 counties that have been heavily drilled in the three major shale gas plays in the US, almost all of these counties had a median income, retail sales and employment rates below their State average.

    She also showed that shale plays are not as consistent and uniform as assumed. Only 2 out of 10 wells are profitable in the average shale play, and the rate of production decline is much steeper than what industry claims (on average, 60 to 80% of the total production of a well occurs in the 1st year, and by the 5th year, most wells are unproductive). Can this really be a stable source of jobs and revenues?

    Q. But don’t you think some readers may question whether your information is also biased, against industry?

    A. There is already a wealth of scientific information and journalistic investigations that support our claim that fracking is neither safe nor economic. Interested readers can weigh by themselves for example the thousands of pages of documents gathered by the New York Times under the heading 'federal officials quietly question shale gas'. What is incredible is that we are still fighting this, given the appalling evidence against the practice that is already available.

    Q. How many people do you expect will join the protest?

    Hundreds have already committed to attend through social media, and the list is growing by the day. In addition, we have over 20 community groups, 4 student groups, 6 NGOs such as the NB Lung Association and the Council of Canadians, 3 unions (CUPE, national farmers union, and Distric Labour Council), and two political parties (NDP and Greens) that are joining. These represent tens of thousands of New Brunswickers and are a real cross-section of both rural and urban NB.

    Q. What would you say to someone considering joining the walk?

    A. If you are considering joining, then you probably already understand that the shale gas industry threatens our future. Our government has been co-opted by this industry and trumpets that it can be made safe with tough regulations, while in fact gutting existing ones and that it will bring jobs and prosperity.

    To top it off, they are not listening to New Brunswickers by ignoring our petitions and calls. This is a slap in the face to Democracy that we have to make loudly visible in the streets, so that others may become aware of it.

    And if they already are, then there are hundreds of fellow citizens that feel the same way. Knowing that someone else has the same views you do and is experiencing the same outrage as you is an extremely empowering experience. Come and walk with us!
  • POUR PUBLICATION IMMÉDIATE                COMMUNIQUÉ                       3 avril 2012

    La parade des gaz de schiste lance la campagne municipale des Rubans bleus

    Fredericton, N.B., Canada – Le mouvement contre les gaz de schiste se déplace vers les municipalités. Les citoyens de Fredericton demandent aux candidats aux postes de conseillers et de maires de prendre position pour la protection de l’air et de l’eau dans leur municipalité. Pour lancer cette initiative électorale, une parade de voitures et de camions, suivie par des bicyclettes et des piétons, va se rendre au centre de Fredericton ce jeudi 5 avril à midi.

    Le point de rencontre sera le stationnement à côté du vieux cimetière au 51, chemin Woodstock. Le départ sera à midi. La parade suivra la rue King, contournera la législature et puis prendra la rue Queen jusqu’à l’hôtel de ville de Fredericton. Les véhicules et leurs passagers seront décorés de ballons bleus, de rubans bleus, de banderoles bleues, de bidons d’eau bleus et de beaucoup de pancartes. Cette parade lancera officiellement la Campagne des rubans bleus ici à Fredericton.

    La campagne des rubans bleus est une action populaire qui va s’étendre dans les villages et les villes du Nouveau-Brunswick. Avec l’enthousiasme soulevé par cette campagne, les organisateurs prévoient, à l’approche des élections municipales, des manifestations semblables dans tout le Nouveau-Brunswick. La couleur bleue symbolise que les citoyennes et les citoyens vont voter pour les maires et les conseillers qui incluent dans leur plateforme l’interdiction ou un moratoire de l’exploration et de l’extraction des gaz de schiste. Le 14 mai, la population va voter pour le changement. Les représentants élus et les candidats seront invités à se joindre à cette parade pour démontrer publiquement qu’ils sont prêts à prendre position pour protéger l’air et l’eau de leur municipalité.

    « Les couts pour notre santé, pour l’air et l’eau, notre climat et notre économie locale sont simplement trop élevés pour que nous restions silencieux. Les règlements sont incapables de nous protéger de la pollution atmosphérique inévitable de la vallée de Fredericton. Et les nappes aquifères où l’on puise nos eaux potables s’étendent loin à l’extérieur de Fredericton où l’on explore pour trouver des gaz de schiste, » ajoute une résidente de Fredericton, Sarah Boucher. « Il est temps pour les organisations de la santé ainsi que les entreprises, les églises et les politiciens de s’exprimer et de se joindre au plus grand mouvement populaire que le Nouveau-Brunswick n’a jamais connu jusqu’ici.

    « La politicaillerie n’a pas sa place en santé humaine ni en matière de sécurité. Presque toutes les municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick ne se sont pas encore prononcées concernant les gaz de schiste. Les pressions des citoyens ont forcé les conseils municipaux de Minto, Hampton, Sackville et Sussex Corner à voter et ces quatre municipalités sont maintenant protégées par un moratoire ou bien une interdiction. Il est temps que Fredericton fasse la même chose, » selon une autre résidente de Fredericton, Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy.

    Le faible taux de participation aux élections municipales signifie que les sièges peuvent être gagnés ou perdus par seulement quelques centaines de votes et souvent moins. Plusieurs sièges sont gagnés par acclamation. Durant les dernières élections municipales le 12 mai 2008, le taux moyen de participation a été de quarante-huit pour cent dans les élections municipales contestées et dans les élections des collectivités rurales (le taux le moins élevé était de vingt-huit pour cent et le plus élevé soixante-dix-sept pour cent). Cent-soixante-dix candidats se sont présentés pour les cent-quatre postes de maire; et huit-cent-quatre-vingt-neuf candidats se sont présentés aux cinq-cent-trente-sept postes de candidats; cinquante-trois maires et cent-dix conseillers ont été élus par acclamation.

    « Faisons savoir à nos conseillers qu’ils ont besoin de se prononcer et qu’ils doivent protéger notre air et notre eau, » propose l’organisateur de la marche bleu, Mark D’Arcy. « Les élections municipales auront lieu de 14 mai prochain. »

     

    Personnes-ressources pour les médias :

     

    Mark D’Arcy 

    Tel. 506 454 5119

    markandcaroline@gmail.com

     

    Terry Wishart

    Tel. 506 238 4001

     t.wishart@banfrackingnb.ca


  • May 23, 2012

    Premier David Alward

    Minister Responsible for Citizen Engagement

    Centennial Building
    P. O. Box 6000
    Fredericton, NB
    E3B 5H1
    Canada

    Dear Mr. Alward:

    Our government is not living up to its commitment to engage with citizens. Shale gas mining and development is one of the most important and controversial issues facing New Brunswickers today. During the past 12 months, thousands of urban and rural New Brunswickers have been moved to action. Some have had their well water tested. Many have participated in protest marches for the first time in their lives. Others have sent letters to newspaper editors denouncing our government’s involvement in the promotion of this industry. All of these well-informed people are cognizant of scientific evidence that confirms that shale gas extraction threatens our air quality, surface and groundwater, health, property values, and quality of life.

    Despite your promise in a Moncton speech last October, our MLAs have failed to hold town hall and information meetings “to hear directly from their constituents on this important issue.” So, on May 10th, a group of citizens organized a debate in Fredericton on the pros and cons of shale gas mining. Eight government representatives, including you, were invited to participate. Based on our government’s booklet entitled Citizen Engagement and Responsible Government (http://www.scribd.com/doc/31665820/Citizen-Engagement-and-Responsible-Government), we fully expected our government’s active participation in this debate. Instead, our government declined the invitation.

    The e-mail from Mr. Troy Lifford, PC Caucus Chair, attempting to explain our government’s refusal to participate in this debate, was perplexing. Mr. Lifford said our government has yet to decide whether it endorses the development of a shale gas industry in New Brunswick.

    This statement seems contradictory to the result of the “free vote” last December, in which Conservative MLAs voted unanimously in favour of “responsible and regulated development” of this industry. Moreover,the Dept. of Natural Resources’ Web site, Natural Gas from Shale, declares, “Welcome to our web site dedicated to shale gas exploration and development,and goes on to address only the alleged benefits of this industry. This does not sound like the words of a government that is undecided on the issue. Nor have Minister Northrup’s repeated refusals to place a moratorium on the industry pending further study sounded like the stance of a government that has yet to decide.

    In April 2012, when Mr. Northrup gave a new shale gas exploration license to Windsor Energy, a company which had previously ignored exploration regulations, he claimed it was to avoid an expensive lawsuit. But in December 2011, our government showed no such reluctance to pass legislation that breached the province’s agreement with Enbridge Gas New Brunswick, legislation to facilitate the economical distribution and use of natural gas. That does not seem to be the action of a government that is undecided about developing a shale gas industry.

    Our government just days ago claimed to have developed “world-class” regulations to control the shale gas industry. That, too, does not seem to be the action of a government that is undecided about developing a shale gas industry.

    All of our government’s public statements, actions and attitudes have made it clear that it favours the development of this industry in the province, regardless of the well-known and scientifically verified dangers it presents to our people. In such a context, Mr. Lifford’s declarations of government neutrality on the issue seem a disingenuous dodge to avoid accountability for the government’s approach to this issue, a dodge that disrespects all of our cherished democratic principles of public consultation and transparency on important issues affecting the people.

    We believe that it is your responsibility, as Minister Responsible for Citizen Engagement, to guide our government in an honest and open discussion of all of the implications of shale gas development in New Brunswick, and to be straightforward and forthcoming about our government’s standpoint towards this extractive resource industry.

    Respectfully,

    Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis – Beth Nixon

    Conservation Council of NB –Stephanie Merrill

    Corn Hill Area Residence Association of NB – Jane Achen

    Council of Canadians – Carol Ring

    Friends of Mount Carleton – Jean Louis Deveau

    Friends of UNB Woodlot – Mark D’arcy

    Hampton Water First – Chris Rendell

    Harvey Environmental Action Team – Terry Wishart

    Memramcook Action – Patricia Léger

    New Brunswickers Against Fracking – Stan Donovan and Mary de La Vallette

    Our Environment, Our Choice –Mike McKinley

    Parents Against Everyday Poisons – Stephanie Stoneleigh 

    Penniac Anti-Shale-Gas Organization – Eric Hadley

    Quality of Life Initiative – Otty Forgrave

    Sierra Club Atlantic – Hazel Richardson

    Stanley Area Action Group – Robert Valiquette

    Sustainable Energy Group – Sam Arnold 

    Tantramar Alliance Against Hydrofracking – Marilyn Lerch 

    Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance - Bradley Wood 

    Upriver Environment Watch- Ann Pohl

    Corinne Hersey, 724 Irvine St., Fredericton, NB.

    Susan Linkletter, 291 Scott Road, Salisbury West, NB

  • VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results for Rexton NB and area May 14 2014

    Two hundred and more enthusiastic and engaged people from the Rexton and Kent County areas attended a standing room-only Voice of the People Tour stop at the Bonar Law High School Wednesday evening.

    Aboriginal, Acadian, English and other friends and neighbours spoke their minds on the issue of fracking and how they choose to take a stand in rejecting the shale gas industry while pursuing viable and locally-based solutions and alternatives to our 'Dig it Up, Cut it Down, Ship it Out'economy.


    Below are the results of the VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR Red Dot Poll for Rexton NB

    1. People of NB will not stand by and allow this (fracking) to happen (112 dots)

    2. Boycott Irving (83 dots)

    3. More emphasis on food security for Kent County (64 dots)

    4. On election day make a statement by voting for a party opposed to fracking (59 dots)

    5. SLAPP suits by SWN (South Western Energy) are unacceptable and will be challenged by individuals and by class action (53 dots)

    6. Honour Aboriginal land and rights (51 dots)

    7. Exploration test wells need to be opposed/stopped. "We have to stop before they drill" (36 dots)

    8. We need to get behind local & provincial politicians who have opposed shale gas (33 dots)

    9. Tools and incentives (e.g. community economic development investment funds) need to be made more available to assist communities to develop renewable energy programs (29 dots)

    10. Greater transparency from government regarding costs incurred from shale gas industry (impacts to air quality, water quality, public health, road maintenance, etc.) (18 dots)

    11. Organized tours of Penobsquis are available. It is important that we see and smell what the industry creates (17 dots)

    12. Speak out not only for yourself but for your wider community (11 dots)

    13. Phased environmental impact assessments (EIA) will be ineffective tools of a regulatory process (9 dots)

    14. Make personal submissions or complaints if medical conditions are potentially at risk by operations that may be planned to happen near or around your community (4 dots)

    15. Challenge the establishment and their use of words to obscure the truth & take away our rights (2 dots)
  • VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results for Sussex NB and area May 8 2014


    1)  NB's democratic deficit is stifling our ability to have an effective public voice to counter government and industry control

    2)  Something needs to be done about corporate media control in NB

    3)  We need better transparency about what has been happening in Penobsquis

    4)  (Tie)
         - Stop subsidizing large corporations
         - Regulations will not protect us

    5)  NB needs more emphasis on sustainable industry incentives

    6)  Proportional representation is needed for electoral reform

    7)  (Tie)
        - Community economic development investment funds and other investment tools are needed to support local community development
        - Concern for lack of accurate information and industry truth

    8) Reduce toxins - Take NB out of a sacrifice zone 
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