• Climate goals can't be met if N.B. expands gas production

     TJ.news   Jim Emberger | Commentary | June 28, 2022

    A recent Brunswick News editorial admitted Canadian fossil fuel companies might not profit on the misfortunes of the war in Ukraine ("Think long-term on resource projects," June 17). That should have been a foregone conclusion.

    Europe’s search for natural gas to replace Russian supplies logically pointed it toward nations that could fill its needs immediately. Many European nations also stressed that their climate crisis plans to reduce gas usage as quickly as possible were still in effect. 

    Canada would take years to become a European supplier, by which time there may no longer be a demand. Large fossil fuel projects are also generally planned for 30-year lifespans to recoup the massive financial investment involved. So, investors in Canada would risk their investments becoming stranded (essentially, lost) if the Europeans stick to their climate pledges. 

    The editorial board professed a belief in the climate crisis. Yet they simultaneously argued the transition to renewable energy will take a long time, and so, meanwhile, we should profit on new fossil fuels projects.

    This directly contradicts the recommendations of the many climate scientists whose work has been published by the UN International Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency and peer-reviewed journals such as Nature. They concluded there can be no new fossil fuel projects, and some existing projects must be abandoned early.

    Of course, there will be a transition when fossil fuels will still be used, but only where necessary, for as short a time as possible and in diminishing quantities. Transition plans created years ago called for an orderly reduction of fossil fuels by just a small percentage each year, allowing us to slowly break our fossil fuel habit.  

    Unfortunately, we ignored those plans for decades, and now we require greater and swifter reductions in fossil fuels. The climate emergency is here, and obviously severe. It is no longer just a worry about our grandchildren.

    Historic, record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather events are killing thousands, increasing hunger, raising food prices and costing our economies billions right now.

    The editorial board nevertheless suggests more Canadian gas, through fracking and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, can help because it is "lower carbon intensity" and "ethical." This is irresponsible and contestable.

    Methane from natural gas is 86 times as potent as CO2 (over 20 years) as a greenhouse gas, and can leak for the entire gas life cycle. Scientific studies state that leakage has in previous years led to as much global warming as coal.

    Shale wells and LNG plants are major methane leakers, and require the burning of fossil fuels to power their processes. LNG requires huge amounts of energy to chill gas to a temperature of minus 161.5 C. Fracking burns through oil and gas to mine enormous amounts of specialized sand, to transport it and millions of litres of water and wastewater, and to fuel many powerful compressors to shatter shale rock. 

    Fracked gas and LNG should be considered extreme climate threats. The “Compendium," a compilation assembled from peer-reviewed studies, journalism and advocacy groups published by an organization of health professionals and scientists opposed to fracking, concluded: “Our examination uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health directly or without imperilling climate stability upon which human health depends.”

    Based on the experience of other jurisdictions, if New Brunswick developed either project, it would likely mean it could not hit its greenhouse gas commitments. Is any of this ethical, or an argument for social license?

    Ethical, long-term and sane solutions are at hand, and will make us healthier, prepare us for the future and provide jobs. Only fossil fuel influences and poor political choices prevent their deployment.  

    We must electrify the economy as much as possible and run it on renewable energy as much as possible, as electricity from solar and wind is the cheapest form of electricity in the world. The fuel cost of sun and wind will never rise, unlike the current budget busting spikes in gas and oil.

    Batteries and other storage methods have likewise advanced technologically, and dropped immensely in price. We can also use less energy by using it wisely, insulating buildings, using heat pumps, localizing our economy and conserving where we can.

    That we are not adequately investing in these obvious solutions, and in an improved electric grid to tie them all together with potential hydro from our neighbours, is inexplicable.

    U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres noted recently that "the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness."

    He's right. There is no bargain that one can make with the physics of climate change to allow fossil fuel interests to make money on their way out.

    That’s not long-term thinking. That’s self-destructive fantasy.

    Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.
  • LaPierre Report More Opinion Than Science

    [Letter to Editor, The Daily Gleaner October 26 2012]

    LaPierre Report Is More Opinion Than Science

     

    I take issue with the recent Gleaner editorial – In our view: Shale gas report is a welcome dose of rationality, science.

     

    First, I don’t see the report itself as any kind of science. There are no references included and the main content of the report does not even accurately reflect the conclusions.

     

    Even a high school science report must include references and have a conclusion that consolidates the information in the body of the report. All one has to do is compare the Cleary health report, with Dr. LaPierre’s, to see how a credible science based government report should be written.

     

    Second, just like our government, the conclusion does not propose any alternatives to not going down the boom bust fossil fuel path. These alternatives were briefly mentioned in the body of the report and talked about by many at the public sessions.

     

    Some of the most successful countries in the world are well on the way to a successful carbon free sustainable economy. It is only a matter of time before every jurisdiction will need to go down this path as fossil fuels – by definition – will not last forever. Early adopters will be in the advantaged position of being world leaders that others will come to as they try to catch up.

     

    Third, we still have no proof that there are any financial benefits to New Brunswickers (or anyone for that matter) for going down this path. The government has no business plan for this industry that considers all the costs including regulation, health and social costs. We have no clue if the revenue potential will cover all of the costs. This is remarkable considering the business approach that is being used to rationalize continual government cost cutting.  

     

    Until this costing is done do we want to spend any more public dollars on something that may very well cost us big? A credible report would task the government with first costing this industry before any more development dollars are spent.

     

    I therefore do not consider Dr. LaPierre’s report to be either rational or scientific.

    Garth Hood
    Fredericton

  • NB Groups Want The Provincial Government To Heed Their Message

    NB Groups Want The Provincial Government To Heed Their Message
    For Immediate Release
    September 16, 2011

    Moncton -- On Saturday, September 17, the anti-shale gas network of citizens have planned
    another march for New Brunswickers to say “NO!” to shale gas in the downtown core of
    Moncton.

    More than 2 dozen groups from around the province, from places like Cornhill, Sackville,
    Taymouth and Hampton, recently announced the network they’ve formed to stop shale gas
    development in New Brunswick, and their next step is to hold another rally to continue sending
    their message to the provincial government that the shale gas industry is not welcome here.

    This grassroots movement has committed itself to informing their fellow New Brunswickers of
    the dangers of shale gas. “It’s shameful that our government has not honestly engaged and
    informed its citizens of the dangers of this industry,” says Debra Hopper, a spokesperson for Our
    Environment, Our Choice, Notre Environnement, Notre Choix. “We have an intelligent group
    here. We have done our homework; now the government needs to do the same. It has been
    reading off of cheat sheets provided by industry. The same tired lines that we’re all sick of
    hearing. The people of New Brunswick have a right to know what we are really facing.”

    “We ask that our government do its job in protecting our life sustaining resources against an
    industry that is advancing at an accelerated rate and that threatens our quality of life for
    generations to come. Once the damages are done, there is no return,” says Patricia Léger,
    spokesperson for Memramcook Action. “We cannot expect industry to warn us of the dangers of
    this toxic method of extracting natural gas and our government seems to only be listening to
    industry.”

    In our ongoing effort to get the facts about the dangers of shale gas drilling out into the open, a
    second march is being held this time in Moncton.  It will begin at 12:00 noon at the Hal Betts
    Ball Fields – Moncton SportPlex, located at 250 Assomption Blvd at the corner of Vaughn
    Harvey. Protesters will march along Vaughn Harvey Blvd, and down Main Street before
    congregating at Moncton City Hall, next to SWN Offices.  We invite all water drinkers and air
    breathers to join us in our PEACEFUL display of democracy in action. 

    At City Hall, there will be speakers from various groups and communities from across the
    province, including the Youth Environmental Action Network, Elsipogtog First Nation, Friends
    of Mount Carleton, the Maliseet Grand Council, and Ban Fracking NB. 

    Media Contacts:
    Our Environment, Our Choice, Notre Envrionnement, Notre Choix, Denise Melanson: 523-9467
    Quality of Life Initiative, Otty Forgrave: 839-2326
    CCNB Action, Stephanie Merrill: 261-8317
    Ban Fracking NB, Terri Telasco: 866-7658
    New Brunswickers Against Fracking, Mary de La Valette: 369-1995
    Council of Canadians, St. John Chapter, Carol Ring: 847-0953
    Grand Lake Watershed Guardians, Amy Sullivan: 339-1980 or 339-5324
    Sierra Club Atlantic, Hazel Richardson: 452-8915

  • Why the rush to overturn fracking ban?

    Commentary by Jim Emberger / Telegraph Journal
    11 January 2019

    Just before the holidays, Brunswick News interviewed Steve Moran, CEO of gas producer Corridor, Inc. This interview, and conversations that followed it, contradicted everything that Premier Higgs told us about lifting the shale gas moratorium.

    Mr. Higgs has justified lifting the moratorium because, he said, jobs and $70 million in investment would follow.

    However, Corridor said it won’t be doing any drilling or investing in New Brunswick until 2021 at the earliest, and then only if it finds a financial partner, and if gas market conditions are promising, and if the province eases some gas regulations. So even if everything falls into place, investment and jobs are years away. If Corridor can’t find a partner, or if market conditions are bad, or if New Brunswick chooses not to alter its regulations (which protect residents), there may not be jobs or investment.

    A fracked well is shown in this file photo. PHOTO: MARK DIXON/FLICKR

    Mr. Higgs also said our gas supply from Nova Scotia would stop at the end of 2018, and that we needed local shale gas to fill that void.

    But pipeline owners and gas suppliers were already on record that there would remain plenty of gas supply, though there would be a price increase. Local shale gas wasn’t an answer to an immediate supply problem.

    If exploration doesn’t begin until 2021, it could still be years beyond that before Corridor would be able to fill any local supply void.

    So with years before any gas activity, why is the premier rushing to lift the moratorium? Even deciding to do it without legislative involvement? What about the concerns raised by the former chief medical officer’s award-winning report on shale gas, the conclusions of the Commission on Hydrofracking, and the five conditionsimplemented by the last government in its moratorium?

    Isn’t there plenty of time for a sober and scientific discussion of those issues? What exactly is the public policy wisdom of acting in haste?

    Mr. Higgs has also stated his government wouldn’t trade special favours for corporations in exchange for jobs. Does that apply to Corridor’s demands to weaken New Brunswick’s regulations? Is putting people at increased risk part of the “responsible” development of resources that gas proponents constantly tout?

    Confronted with the contradictions to his campaign rhetoric, Mr. Higgs has switched his rationale and now suggests shale gas is needed to supply a potential liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility in Saint John. The facility was built years ago to import gas, but is now underused.

    But even if he is right – and it’s a big “if” – we are still looking at years before any jobs or royalties accrue to the province.

    It’s time for Mr. Higgs to tell us what the basis of his shale gas policy truly is, who will benefit from what he is proposing, and why he has rushed to act before any discussion of events that lie years in the future.

    What is certain is that his reasons to lift the moratorium have been inconsistent, at best. How do citizens – both pro and anti-fracking – feel about promise of jobs and investment that won’t happen for many years, if ever?

    Will we learn why we’re lifting the moratorium in Sussex, when Corridor said it wants to drill in Elgin? Will Sussex determine whether Elgin gets fracked, or did the premier simply use Sussex as a tool to show that somebody wanted shale gas?

    How will the People’s Alliance react to having spent much of its newly won political capital on saving a government by supporting its throne speech amendment on fracking?

    Were PC MLAs themselves blindsided by Higgs’ actions and haste? Do they feel embarrassed when defending these actions to constituents?

    Most importantly, what will the legislature do? Will it wait years to see if Corridor’s wish list comes true, while the province drifts without cogent energy, climate, employment and economic plans?

    The previous legislature’s all-party climate plan already contains a roadmap to a clean energy economy that needs only to be implemented. A recent study by Dunsky Energy Consulting, commissioned by Clean Energy Canada, indicates New Brunswick could replicate the successes of similar jurisdictions and create hundreds of jobs almost immediately, leading to thousands over the years.  Perhaps, moving gas customers to increasingly inexpensive renewable energy could be a priority.

    Amazingly, in spite of all of this, there are those calling to broaden the consensus for shale gas. But no consensus can be built without a foundation built on truth.

    Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.

 © 2018 NBEN / RENB