• My Water's On Fire Tonight

    Gotta love it!  Check out this Fracking song!
  • 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

  • NB shale gas commission report underscores need for moratorium, says Council of Canadians

    KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Council of Canadians and its four New Brunswick chapters are calling on the Gallant government to recognize it has no choice but to extend the fracking moratorium, after the report it commissioned demonstrated that its five conditions for lifting the moratorium have not been met.

    “Based on the Commission’s report, the government of New Brunswick must commit to a legislated moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the province. All five conditions, including social licence, have not been met and will require a lot of work,” says Denise Melanson, Council of Canadians’ Kent County chapter media spokesperson. “To give the people of this province some peace of mind and some security, the government should close the book on this industry.”

    “We stand with our Indigenous allies including Ron Tremblay, Grand Chief of the Wolastoq Grand Council. This report clearly recognizes the constitutional duty to consult Indigenous peoples, highlighting a critical reason a legislated moratorium is needed,” says Maggie Connell, co-chair of the Council of Canadians’ Fredericton chapter.

    Angela Giles, the Council’s Atlantic Regional Organizer based in Halifax, added “The Commission report highlights the need for a transition to clean energy for New Brunswick’s future energy mix. Given the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, shale gas cannot be part of the future. We need to focus on real solutions to the climate crisis in New Brunswick and beyond.”

    Representatives from the Council of Canadians’ Fredericton and Kent County chapters attended the private briefing as well as the public release of the Commission’s report this morning in Fredericton.

    -30-

    The report is available on the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing website.
  • NBASGA Statement on Higgs’ Throne Speech

    21 November 2018

    FREDERICTON — After reviewing Premier Higgs’ throne speech, Jim Emberger, Spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA), stated that the organization is “cautiously optimistic about the willingness and ability of the minority government to act sensibly in its approach to our mandates of preventing unconventional oil and gas in the province and slowing climate change by developing a green economy.”

    The speech made a strong statement against ‘inter-generational theft’, or stealing the future from our children. Emberger noted that, “The most extreme example of this, however, is not an inherited tax burden. It is allowing climate change, the use of non-renewable resources, and other problems of environmental degradation to remove any possibility of a good life from the future of our children and grandchildren.” He cited the many lawsuits on climate change filed worldwide by, and for, children and their right to a decent life.

    Climate change was recognized in the speech as a problem that people cause, and that we must deal with, including by transitioning to a ‘green’ economy that will provide jobs and be sustainable, positions long maintained by NBASGA.

    The speech called for a “legislative officer responsible for science and climate change, and to restore the independence of the recently dismantled public health system”. Endorsing these positions Emberger stated, “We maintain that the examination of the science and public health knowledge concerning climate and shale gas firmly support our position on those issues.”

    Emberger said they were happy to see attention given to the relationship with our indigenous population, and implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but noted, “As always, it is hard to know how serious the government is or how far it’s prepared to go.”

    The speech’s conciliatory tone, and stated willingness to work with the legislators from all political parties, could provide a way to govern, but only if free votes are allowed.

    Emberger concluded that the tone and values expressed were positive, but that ensuing actions must live up to those markers, noting, “We sued the out-going Alward government over ignoring science, health and the future of our children, and we can sue an incoming Higgs government as well. We sincerely hope that won’t be necessary.”

    Contact:
    Jim Emberger, Spokesperson: cellphone: 506 440-4255
  • NEW BRUNSWICK PEOPLES’ DECLARATION ON SHALE GAS AND RENEWABLE ENERGY

    Public Release

    NEW BRUNSWICK PEOPLES’ DECLARATION ON SHALE GAS AND RENEWABLE ENERGY

    November 27, 2012

    WHEREAS

    Licences have been granted by the New Brunswick Government on 1.5 million hectares of New Brunswick enabling exploration for shale gas without public consultation or free, prior and informed consent of First Nations as informed by the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and

    With a well casing failure rate of between 2 and 8 percent, and as high as 50 percent over two decades, shale gas extraction using hydro-fracking poses an unacceptable risk to drinking water wells, groundwater aquifers, lakes and streams, as well as consumes millions of gallons of fresh water, rending it a waste product requiring treatment; and

    The shale gas industry will introduce substances such as benzene, diesel fuel, kerosene, naphthalene and antifreeze into our water through spills/leakage of toxic fracking flow-back fluids, and into our air, through fugitive emissions and venting, placing local residents, livestock, wildlife, and critical agriculture and watershed areas at risk; and

    Communities where hydro-fracking has occurred have experienced explosions, fires, spills, stream contamination and well pollution, which have placed volunteer fire departments, EMS units and healthcare providers at risk; and

    Extensive shale gas extraction, and its required infrastructure of roads, drill pads, pipelines, compressor stations, heavy truck traffic, and impacts of noise, emissions and dust will undermine property values and increase tax burdens on New Brunswickers who have not given their consent to this industry;

    AND WHEREAS

    Approximately 20,000 New Brunswickers in 2011 signed a petition calling for a ban on shale gas licensing and extraction in New Brunswick; and

    In November, 2011 a CBC survey 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 hydro-fracking; and

    The October 2012 report by Dr. Louis LaPierre (The Path Forward) did not reflect the will of the people as expressed at public meetings held in 2012, and Dr. LaPierre did not gather evidence over the course of the public meetings to support his opinion finding that a moratorium on shale gas development was or was notwarranted; and

    The September 2012 report of Dr. Eilish Cleary (Chief Medical Officer’s Recommendations Concerning the Development of Shale Gas in New Brunswick) establishes the extensive and costly parameters required to be put in place to assess basic human health impacts before any exploratory hydro-fracking takes place; and

    New Brunswick does not have an Environmental Bill of Rights guaranteeing its citizens and First Nations a clean environment including air, water and land and recognizing water as a fundamental Human Right; and

    Employment claims of the industry have been largely overstated elsewhere, for example, in Texas. Furthermore, the work requires skills not generally held by New Brunswickers, rendering them ineligible for all but unskilled employment on shale gas sites;

    AND RECOGNIZING

    That, responding to objections from people, especially from those most directly affected, hydro-fracking has been forbidden or banned in many jurisdictions in the world primarily due to concerns over water; and

    That industry infrastructure development will require clear-cutting of trees, 24-hour noise and light pollution, increases in truck traffic and permanent alterations of the landscape which are incompatible with forestry, fishing, guiding, agriculture, tourism, recreation and other pursuits which contribute to the New Brunswick economy; and

    That resources which otherwise could be directed towards clean, renewable energy alternatives such as solar, wind, geothermal, micro-hydro and other non-consumptive energy resources are currently going into the pursuit of natural gas in shale, an un-sustainable fossil fuel that contributes to global climate change; and

    That the private interaction of government and industry groups as occurred in Fredericton from November 4-6, 2012 at the taxpayer-supported 2012 Exploration, Mining and Petroleum New Brunswick Conference has the effect of inhibiting New Brunswickers’ expression against fossil fuel development and prevents alternative energy propositions from gaining recognition or reaching fruition;

    WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, RESPECTFULLY DEMAND THAT

    The New Brunswick Government begin, TODAY, an energy transition program based on reducing overall energy consumption, energy efficiency and giving priority to renewable energy over sources that are finite, whiletransferring all subsidies from carbon to renewables/sustainables and increasing them in scale; and

    That the production and delivery of energy be re-oriented to satisfy the needs of the people of New Brunswick, and not for export or to be managed by transnational interests or driven by industrial consumption; and

    That local, alternative and sustainable solutions be prioritized, decentralizing generation. This transition requires an immediate ban on drilling for shale and in general prohibiting unconventional hydrocarbon extraction using methods too dangerous for the environment and health; and

    That Government invite meaningful, constructive dialogue with social and environmental movements to determine all the economic possibilities and opportunities for New Brunswick that will address our debt and deficit and eliminate shale gas from consideration in this regard; and

    That Government accept that the people reserve the right to enact civil disobedience to confront destruction of the New Brunswick environment, methods of subsistence, of quality of life and of health; and

    That Government prioritize the adoption of a New Brunswick Environmental Bill of Rights, entrenching every citizen’s right to clean air, land and water in legislation, for the benefit of current and future generations.

    Signed this day, the 27th of November, by

    Please sign the electronic petition here

  • New Shale Gas Rules A Red Herring Diverting From Real Issue

    NEWS RELEASE -Council of Canadians, Fredericton, NB Chapter, 25 February 2013

    NewShale Gas Rules A Red Herring Diverting From Real Issue

    FREDERICTON – Rather than paving the way for the government plans, the new rules for the oil and gas industry released on Friday, February 15th 2013 by Ministers Leonard and Fitch are becoming the object of a growing controversy.Today, 17 community groups came to the same conclusion that the new rules are a red herring trying to deflect attention from the worrying fact that they have ruled out a moratorium on shale gas based on false claims.

    “Moreover, the media have a duty to prevent government from deceiving the public. It is high time to set the record straight”

    In a statement made November 28th, 2012 in the Legislature about the future of the oil and gas industry in New Brunswick, Energy Minister Leonard claimed that both Dr. LaPierre’s and Dr. Cleary’s reports came to the same conclusion – a moratorium on shale gas exploration is neither required nor desirable in New Brunswick.

    “This claim is fraudulent”, affirms Dr. Castilla, a member of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians and Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary. “The remarks about a moratorium appearing in the conclusion section of Dr. LaPierre's report do not stem from the content of his report or the input he received from the public. Rather, they are based on fallacious arguments such that a moratorium is incompatible with a science-based approach and would leave undefined the issues. But then how can a moratorium ever finish if the issues that prompted it are not defined?” asks Dr. Castilla.

    “The remarks about a moratorium appearing in the conclusion section of Dr. LaPierre's report do not stem from the content of his report…”

    “We also have to remember that Dr. LaPierre is a Director of NB Power, which has expressed interest in converting to natural gas some of its power generating stations. Hence it is possible that the flaws in his reasoning are intentional”, speculated Dr. Castilla. “In any case, when someone tells you that a report came to this or that conclusion, you expect something that follows from the report itself and not from a personal opinion which on top of that is biased”, explained Dr. Castilla.

    “Even more striking is the misrepresentation of the conclusions of Dr. Cleary’s report, which does not even contain the word moratorium. How can you reach a conclusion on something you don’t even mention?” Dr. Castilla asks.

    “The misrepresentation of Dr. Cleary’s report is clearly intentional”

    “The misrepresentation of Dr. Cleary’s report is clearly intentional”, argues Mark D’Arcy, a spokesperson for the Friends of the UNB Woodlot. “On November 30, 2012 I sent an email to Mr. Leonard bringing to his attention the falsehood of his claim and asking him to publicly retract from it, but he never got back to me. This is very relevant, because this claim is a center piece in the government’s rationale to move ahead with shale gas”, Mr. D’Arcy continued. “Moreover, the media have a duty to prevent government from deceiving the public. It is high time to set the record straight”, concluded Mr. D’Arcy.

    The Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians and 16 organizations and community association across New Brunswick are demanding that the case for a moratorium be reopened and revised by an independent panel of scientists with no conflict of interest with industry.

  • New Shale Gas Rules Put Cart Before The Horse

     NEWS RELEASE - Council of Canadians, Fredericton N.B. Chapter, 21 February 2013

     

    New shale gas rules put the cart before the horse

    FREDERICTON– The new rules for the oil and gas industry released on Friday, February 15th 2013 by Ministers Leonard and Fitch are starting to backfire on the government.Today, 17 community groups all agreed that the Alward government is putting the cart before the horse by hastily moving the shale gas file ahead without having obtained or sought the consent of Aboriginal Peoples and the rest of the people in New Brunswick.

    "There is growing scientific and anecdotal evidence that shale gas extraction is an activity that can potentially cause significant harm”

    “Premier Alward’s claim that New Brunswickers had their say on the issue during the 2010 provincial election is stretching the truth”, commented Dr Jean Louis Deveau, a social scientist and chair of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians. “Shale gas and hydraulic fracturing were never mentioned in the PC Party platform. The PC’s statement was that they would support the responsible expansion of the natural gas sector in New Brunswick. This cannot be taken as a carte blanche for developing a shale gas industry”, asserts Dr Deveau. “The government has the responsibility of protecting the public from environmental harm. There is growing scientific and anecdotal evidence that shale gas extraction is an activity that can potentially cause significant harm. Ignoring this responsibility by moving ahead without having thoroughly assessed the risks and without a credible business case cannot possibly be called ‘responsible’; therefore their current plans cannot be reconciled with their 2010 platform statement”, concluded Dr. Deveau.

    “We maintain that proper duty to consult with Aboriginal Peoples has not been executed and so this development cannot proceed under Canada's own rule-of-law”

    “Our Government has never held public meetings to consult with their constituents about the decision to move ahead with shale gas, even though they have been requested to do so”, argues Jim Emberger of the Taymouth Community Association. “Oil& Gas companies like SWN Resources have been by with open houses, and Dr LaPierre toured the province asking for feedback about an earlier version of the new rules, but this marketing exercise and Dr LaPierre’s pro forma consultation, where no elected officials were present, are no substitutes for a meaningful two-way consultative process.”

    “Our Government has never held public meetings to consult with their constituents about the decision to move ahead with shale gas even though they have been requested to do so”

    Consent from Aboriginal Peoples could even be a harder nut to crack for the Alward government. “We maintain that proper duty to consult with Aboriginal Peoples has not been executed and so this development cannot proceed under Canada's own rule-of-law”, emphasized Brian Francis, spokesperson for the Sikniktuk Mi'kmaq Rights Coalition.

    "The government of New Brunswick does not have the free, prior, and informed consent of the Maliseet People to explore, license or mine for shale gas"

    "The government of New Brunswick does not have the free, prior, and informed consent of the Maliseet People to explore, license or mine for shale gas", asserted Alma Brooks of the Maliseet Grand Council. Chief Candice Paul of the Saint Mary’s First Nation is even more stringent: “Under our Peace and Friendship Treaty, we have not ceded any land. We have not given up title to any land in this Treaty area. So, this is the basis from where we need to talk before anyone can move ahead with any type of resource development in the province of New Brunswick”, she said shortly after Minister Leonard’s and Fitch’s press conference.

  • Open Letter On Shale Gas To Alward Government

    (Letter available for download here. Ici en Francais)

    Fredericton, February 27 2013

    Honourable Craig Leonard
    Energy and Mines Minister

    CC:
    Honourable Bruce Fitch, Environment and Local Government Minister
    Honourable David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick
     
    Dear Minister Leonard,
     
    We are a group of 29 associations, organizations and unions representing [tens of] thousands of New Brunswickers, rural and urban; Anglophone, Francophone and Aboriginal.
     

     
    "Your release of new rules for the oil and gas industry on February 15 2013 presumes that you have a mandate from the public"
     
     
    Your release of new rules for the oil and gas industry on February 15 2013 presumes that you have a mandate from the public. We believe that you have no such mandate and are not entitled to release these rules or take any further steps to proceed with the extraction of shale gas in New Brunswick. We base our claim on the following REASONS:
     
     
    “Shale gas and hydraulic fracturing were never mentioned in your Party‘s 2010 electoral platform”

     
     
    (1) Shale gas and hydraulic fracturing were never mentioned in your Party‘s 2010 electoral platform. You cannot claim that your voters were aware that you were using the term ‘natural gas’ as a synonym for the above.


    (2) You have a responsibility to protect the public from environmental harm. There is growing scientific and anecdotal evidence that shale gas extraction is an activity that can potentially cause significant harm. Therefore, you cannot allow such activity until the risks are fully assessed. Such assessment can be done without exposing the public to the actual risks, which is what you are in fact doing by allowing exploration and drilling. Ignoring your responsibility to protect the public cannot possibly be called ‘responsible’. Therefore, your current plans cannot be reconciled with the statement in your 2010 platform that you will “support the responsible expansion of the natural gas sector in New Brunswick”.
     

    “You have a responsibility to protect the public from environmental harm”
     
     
    (3) The two points above clearly show you do not have a mandate to renew existing licenses related to shale gas exploration or drilling, or to grant new ones. We believe doing so is undemocratic and irresponsible, for the aforementioned reasons.
     
     (4) You have never held public meetings to consult with your constituents about the decision to move ahead with shale gas, even though you have been requested to do so. Shale gas licensees have conducted open houses, and you hired Dr. LaPierre to solicit feedback on an earlier version of the new rules. However, industry marketing exercises and Dr. LaPierre’s pro forma consultation, where no elected officials were present, are no substitutes for a meaningful two-way consultative process.
     
     
    “You do not have a mandate to renew existing licenses related to shale gas exploration or drilling, or to grant new ones”
     
     
    (5) You do not have the free, prior, and informed consent of the First Nations in this province to explore, license or mine for shale gas, which is a requirement under Canada's own rule-of-law.
     
     
    “You have never held public meetings to consult with your constituents about the decision to move ahead with shale gas”
     
     
    (6) You have ruled out a moratorium on shale gas based on false claims. Specifically, in your Statement to the Legislative Assembly on the future of the oil and gas industry in New Brunswick made on November 28th 2012, you claimed that both Dr. LaPierre’s and Dr. Cleary’s reports came to the same conclusion – a moratorium on shale gas exploration is neither required nor desirable in New Brunswick. This claim has no basis in fact, as shown in the next three points.
     
     
    "Consult on the question of whether the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples of New Brunswick want the shale gas industry to operate within provincial boundaries"
     
     
    (7) You did not give a mandate to Dr. LaPierre to make recommendations on a moratorium on shale gas. We understand this decision, since we perceive he may be in a conflict of interest on this subject, given he is a Director of NB Power. The latter has expressed interest in converting some power generation facilities to natural gas and hence has a vested interest in the development of a local shale gas industry.
     
     
    “You have ruled out a moratorium on shale gas based on false claims”
     
     
    (8) Yet Dr. LaPierre created his own, ethically questionable, mandate and ruled out a moratorium on shale gas, and you made his conclusion yours. You seemingly did not pay attention to the fact that he did not derive such conclusion from the content of his report or the input he received from the public. Rather, he derived it from fallacious arguments such as that a moratorium is incompatible with a science-based approach and would leave the issues undefined. Therefore, you cannot claim that his report came to that conclusion, or that the conclusion is based on sound evidence or perceived public will. The conclusion is rather Dr. LaPierre’s biased and flawed personal opinion.
     
     
    “Any inferred comment on a moratorium was not the intention or the point of my report”

    - Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eilish Cleary

     
     
    (9) Dr. Cleary’s report drew no conclusions on a moratorium, and does not even contain the word ‘moratorium’. When asked about this, Dr. Cleary has stated that “any inferred comment on a moratorium was not the intention or the point of my report”. Furthermore, some of us brought to your attention the falsehood of your claim about Dr. Cleary’s report and asked you to retract it, a demand that you ignored. Therefore you cannot claim you were not aware of this misrepresentation.
     
     
    “You have not substantiated your claim that the benefits for the people of New Brunswick will outweigh the risks you intend to subject them to”

     
     
    (10) You have not substantiated your claim that the benefits for the people of New Brunswick will outweigh the risks you intend to subject them to. The experience of people living in various shale plays across North America is that the purported benefits do not trickle down to the society at large, while extensive environmental, health and social problems do.
     
     
    Considering the above, we DEMAND that your government:
     
    (1) Bring the following to an immediate stop: ongoing shale gas exploration, the granting of any new licenses for exploration or wells, and the renewal of existing ones.
     
    (2) Reopen the case for a moratorium and commission an independent panel of scientists with no conflict of interest with industry to review it.
     
    (3) Apologize to the public for the false claims ruling out a moratorium and publicly retract them.
     
    (4) Consult on the question of whether the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples of New Brunswick want the shale gas industry to operate within provincial boundaries. We believe the consultative process should not start until (i) the risks are fully assessed; and (ii) a credible scenario-based business case is developed to assess potential benefits.
     
    We kindly ask that you reply promptly and publicly to this letter.
     
    Respectfully,
     
    29 organizations, associations and unions of New Brunswick

    (please see alphabetical list below)

     
     
    Canadian Union of Public Employees New Brunswick (CUPE NB)
    CCNB Action
    Citizens Coalition for Clean Air
    Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis
    Council of Canadians – Saint John Chapter
    Council of Canadians – Fredericton Chapter
    Darlings Island Fracking Intervention Naguwigewauk
    ecoFredericton Sustainable Living Inc.
    Fredericton & District Labour Council
    Friends of Mount Carleton
    Friends of the UNB Woodlot
    Hampton Water First
    Maliseet Grand Council
    Memramcook Action
    New Brunswickers Against Fracking
    New Brunswick Senior Citizens Federation
    National Farmers Union New Brunswick (NFU NB)
    Notre Environnement, Notre Choix
    Parents Against Everyday Poisons
    Penniac Anti-Shale Gas Organization
    Quality of Life Initiative
    Sierra Club Atlantic
    Sikniktuk Mi'kmaq Rights Coalition
    Stanley Area Action Group
    Taymouth Community Association
    Tantramar Alliance Against Hydrofracking
    Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance
    Upriver Environment Watch
    Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County
  • Open letter to Premier David Alward from New Brunswick community groups opposed to Slickwater Hydraulic Fracturing (Hydro Fracking)

    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

  • Our Remaining Important Questions: A Response to the New Brunswick Government’s White Paper on Recommendations to Govern the Development of Shale Gas from the Taymouth Community Association

    (Posted on behalf of the Taymouth Community Association)

    A Response to the New Brunswick Government’s White Paper on Recommendations

    To Govern the Development of Shale Gas From The Taymouth Community Association

     

    (Page 11 of 11)

    Our Remaining Important Questions

     

    The government’s position has been that it is okay to continue exploration, because if we find shale gas development to be unsafe for either the people or the environment, we can simply stop it at that point. SWN had a three-year license to explore during which it pledged to spend $47 million dollars. The government recently passed a new regulation to grant them extensions of that license.
    "If a large portion of the medical profession in
    the province… says it is not safe to continue…
    can they be overridden by a political decision?"
    It is hard for us to conceive that after allowing the company to explore for 5 years and spend $47 million dollars that the government would say, ‘Sorry SWN, we don’t think it’s safe, you’ll have to go.’ Even if the government did say that, we suspect the action would be followed by costly lawsuits and extreme damage to the province’s reputation.
    The only sane approach is for a moratorium or ban to be started immediately before industry invests millions more. However, if the government wants to persist in what many consider a reckless policy, we want to know several things:

     

    - First, what will be the legal instrument used to deny leases to companies who have lawfully fulfilled their license agreements?

    - Secondly, who will decide on what is safe, what will be the decision-making process and who will provide the criteria to decide the standard of ‘safeness’?

    - Will the entire decision making process by open to public comment?

    - If a large portion of the medical profession in the province, backed by other medical societies around the world and supported by studies, says it is not safe to continue, given their commitment to the ethic of “first do no harm”, can they be overridden by a political decision?

    - What percentage of leaking gas wells or water well contaminations will our ‘safety standards’ allow as ‘acceptable’? How will that be decided?

    - If local communities have different conceptions of what is safe, what can they do?

    We need answers to these basic questions before we can give any serious consideration to the government’s current position.

     

     

     

  • Passamaquoddy Chief Hugh Akagi: Natives have rights to counter governments willing to sacrifice anything

    Address by Chief of the Passamaquoddy Nation, Hugh Akagi at 'Energy For Everyone'Saint John October 3, 2013

    Once again I wish to thank the wolastoqiyik for the honour to walk in your territory.

    When first asked to speak at this event I recommended someone I knew who would deliver a better message in a more powerful way than I possibly could, yet I was gently reminded through the following message that I have an obligation to be here: “I thought - and you can correct me - that the pipeline marine terminal and marine traffic, poses a risk to the waters of the Passamaquoddy. This may be an issue that you are interested in.”

    Needless to say, I was humbled and she was right.

    “I see signs all through Passamaquoddy territory, including the waters, that we can no longer entrust the safety and well being of this planet to those compromised by their addiction to money”

    I am interested and more than concerned that our energy bubble is about to burst. I see signs all through Passamaquoddy territory including the waters that we can no longer entrust the safety and well being of this planet to those compromised by their addiction to money. Money is not real, it is a paper substitute for land, for water, for creatures that share this planet with us and even for the lives of those often described as collateral damage for the comfort of others.


    “Don’t forget our earliest dependence on oil put the largest creatures to ever inhabit this planet on a list of endangered species just to keep the lamps burning in Europe”

    Do you require proof of each of these? In sequence: comprehensive claims for Indians (money for land, well yes we are supposed to be grateful that they no longer bribe us with alcohol, but come on, paper? Let’s use the currency of the day- - land!), water is threatened every day by our addiction to energy. . .Irving Whale, Valdez, Gulf of Mexico, Ocean Ranger, Grand Banks Newfoundland . . . Don’t forget our earliest dependence on oil put the largest creatures to ever inhabit this planet on a list of endangered species just to keep the lamps burning in Europe.

    When asked to attend a meeting on the destruction of science, I gave simple advice, help us help you. Natives have rights you need to access if we are to counter the behaviour of governments willing to sacrifice anything so that corporations will fill their pockets come election time when campaign contributions determine who will be the elite in the world they create for us.



    Read the Paper. Why did Chief Sock feel the need to evict a corporation? Why did he assure that “Private property owners have nothing to worry about . . . But companies exploiting Crown lands for fish, wood, minerals or gas are being told to get out now”?


    “…Governments willing to sacrifice anything so that corporations will fill their pockets come election time when campaign contributions determine who will be the elite in the world they create for us”

    Could it be because one represents a non-human entity empowered with human rights and the other is a human entity deprived of human rights, and he knows the difference! Perhaps because governments have reneged on their promise to protect human rights, not sell out to the highest bidder at the first opportunity.

    As Canadians aren’t we tired of being the brunt of jokes such as: If you hit an American he will hit you back, but if you hit a Canadian, he’ll apologize?

    Why do we accept Government behaviour as normal when it is often immoral in character?

    “…Wake up New Brunswick, it’s time to stop the tail from wagging the Dog. It is time to take control of our lives and we can start by standing in solidarity with those who are willing to do the right thing”


    Wake up Canada, Wake up New Brunswick, it’s time to stop the tail from wagging the Dog. It is time to take control of our lives and we can start by standing in solidarity with those who are willing to do the right thing. We can stop believing the constant diet of lies we are being fed by those attempting to convince us to give them what they do not have and that is our consent. A portion of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples protects the will of the People using “free, prior, and informed consent”. No wonder Canada likes to refer to this as an “aspirational” document.

    Let’s see are there any other documents that might be considered aspirational, I believe the series of omnibus bills would indicate that the Oceans Act is simply an aspiratinal document, as is the fisheries act, and if you follow the trail of behaviour I might suggest the province is willing to take a page from the Feds by treating the Human Rights Act and Rights to clean Water as aspiratinal as well.


    “No written law may be forced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principals of fairness, morality, and justice that transcends human legal systems. Perhaps our Mother and her creatures have more rights than we realize”


    Oh by-the-way, I cannot find the word aspirational in Wikipedia, Websters or Oxford, so it would appear our Federal leadership has created a word which is not real to describe a document as not being real!

    Something I did find in the dictionary was the “legal” definition of “LAW”: No written law may be forced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principals of fairness, morality, and justice that transcends human legal systems. Perhaps our Mother and her creatures have more rights than we realize.

    So, if we cannot believe the Feds, and we cannot trust the Province, who can we trust, the Indians?

    “We honoured the treaties of peace and friendship which means we were the only party to respect the covenant between our Nations. You need to understand us, you need to understand that our connection to the land is real”

    This won’t be easy folks because I believe most of you are still afraid of us. We are not the enemy. We are not friends because we are the enemy of your enemy. We honoured the treaties of peace and friendship which means we were the only party to respect the covenant between our Nations. You need to understand us, you need to understand that our connection to the land is real. Our need to protect comes not from acts or legislations but from the Earth herself. Now I have come full circle, this is a Native thing. The reminder was not that this is about an issue but about existence. It is about respecting the Earth as our Mother and protecting her while she nourishes us and our children.


    “The reminder was not that this is about an issue but about existence. It is about respecting the Earth as our Mother and protecting her while she nourishes us and our children”


    If we keep behaving like spoiled children demanding more than she can give, then we will destroy her. If we do not protect her lifeblood, what you refer to as the waters then she will suffer as well. No amount of pipelines and black oil could replace her incredible circulatory system scientists call the world’s air conditioner. If you keep clear-cutting her hair, which you refer to as forests, she will burn from exposure to the sun. If you poison her blood, your oceans, all the life giving contents will die as well.

    “No amount of pipelines and black oil could replace her incredible circulatory system scientists call the world’s air conditioner. If you keep clear-cutting her hair, which you refer to as forests, she will burn from exposure to the sun”

    Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the task ahead but we always have a choice, and that is to do what is right or do what is easy and like I said, this won’t be easy. But we have friends in-the-room. We need to believe that there are good lawyers who will not charge an arm and a leg to help, we need to believe there are police authorities that understand the need to protect the People above corporate profits, we need to believe there are politicians willing to give instead of take from their communities, and we need to believe that we can all work together for the common good.

    Often this world seems upside down when I hear that Julian Assange is being punished (seeking asylum) for telling the truth and Bradley Manning was condemned for having a conscience while the murderers remain unpunished and free. What country hunts Eric Snowden for exposing the “spy story” of the century while protecting the criminals who were entrusted with a Nation’s security? And how can a Nation with Nuclear weapons attack another country because they are “suspected” of having weapons of mass destruction? The United States Government is shut down because parties cannot agree on a health plan to serve their citizens. People who have lied about their credentials are used to justify Fraking, when confronted they too are protected by those in authority who should be embarrassed but never are.

    Yet giving up is not an option and we now know that energy is not all it’s fraked up to be.
  • PCs need clear energy and climate policy

    JIM EMBERGER   COMMENTARY
    Telegraph Journal  June 14, 2018

    Last winter the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance asked the provincial party leaders for their views on energy, climate change and the fracking moratorium. Each party, except the Progressive Conservatives, responded.

    Additional requests to PC leader Blaine Higgs for evidence to justify his plans to lift the moratorium, and to explain the process for lifting it, have gone unanswered.

    Fortunately, Mr. Higgs was the first speaker in the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s series featuring party leaders last week, so I went there seeking some answers.

    I began my question by noting that all of the other Maritime provinces, states like New York, and many European nations had passed moratoriums after conducting in-depth expert examinations.

    Additionally, over a thousand scientific studies and investigations have now validated fracking’s threats of water contamination, air pollution, earthquakes and especially threats to public health, including serious harm to infants and children.

    I asked if he had evidence to contradict these scientific studies, and by what process would he publicly explain why we should lift our moratorium and accept serious risks?

    Echoing stale talking points from eight years ago, he first responded by saying that for every study saying fracking is bad, there is another study that says the opposite.

    This is simply, and provably, false.

    Ask yourself, if there were a thousand studies saying fracking posed no threat to public health, the environment or clean water, wouldn’t we have heard about them by now, with heavy promotion from the gas industry?

    Mr. Higgs then predictably moved to the classic misleading statement that there are many places that have been fracking“safely and responsibly”for 50 years.

    Anyone familiar with this topic knows that what we now call fracking is only roughly 15 years old. In the last few years, there has been a drastic increase in the amounts of water, sand, toxic chemicals and wastewater it involves.

    As for fracking“safely and responsibly,” what do those words mean when applied to those jurisdictions that unquestioningly welcomed fracking?

    The British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission identified significant methane leaks from hundreds of gas wells, but withheld that information from politicians and citizens for four years.

    The B.C. government didn’t tell the public that frackers had built 92 illegal and uninspected dams to sequester water, threatening people living downstream and local ecosystems.

    So many sizeable earthquakes have been caused by fracking in B.C. that fracking can’t be done within five km of critical infrastructure.

    For 12 years, Pennsylvania regulatory officials hid 9,442 Citizen-Reported Fracking Complaints, 44 per cent of which concerned water contamination.

    Canada’s tens of thousands of abandoned gas and oil wells will eventually reach hundreds of thousands. Natural Resources Canada describes methane leakage from abandoned wells as risking “irreversible contamination of freshwater aquifers, accumulation of explosive gases within and around residences... and contribution to greenhouse gases.” 

    The former chief environmental scientist with the Alberta energy regulator stated, “The expertise to assess the health risk of abandoned wells really doesn’t exist in-house.”

    A life-threatening gas, hydrogen sulphide (H2S), often accompanies shale gas. A Saskatchewan investigation into incidents involving releases of H2S found “repeated and continuing serious infractions, a string of failed safety audits, and H2S readings that exceeded air quality standards on a daily basis.”

    These few examples illustrate that neither the government nor the industry has operated in a safe or responsible manner, even in these “best regulated”jurisdictions.

    As to the process for lifting the moratorium, Mr. Higgs offered to“talk”to municipalities that want shale gas.

    His earlier, opening remarks reflected his concern that the recent flood damage was becoming the “new normal.”

    Using this reference to climate change, we noted that New Brunswick and the world have experienced increasing numbers of very costly natural disasters, for which climate change is at least partially responsible.

    Natural gas, once considered a way to transition from other fossil fuels, is now known as one of the largest and fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases, due to methane leaking from gas infrastructure. Some analyses consider it worse than coal.

    “How then,” we asked, “does opening a new shale gas industry fit into plans to fight climate change?”

    After spending a great deal of time discussing the unrelated issue of carbon taxes, Mr. Higgs said there is a risk in everything, and that we have to strike a balance.

    Like editorial writers who worry about climate change damage, but then call for fossil-fuel projects, Mr. Higgs must believe we can bargain with the laws of physics to allow us to burn more fossil fuels, yet somehow not contribute to climate change.

    Alas, we still don’t know whether the PC’s actually have any cogent energy or climate policies, or even good reasons for lifting the fracking moratorium. They seem unaware of scientific risk analyses.

    That’s a problem for a party running on a platform of “responsible leadership.” Responsible leaders should not be so out of touch with the great issues of our time.

    Jim Emberger
    is a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.
  • Press Release: LaPierre Report Opinion Not Science

    For Immediate Release

     

    LaPierre’s report is opinion, not science

    Dr. Louis LaPierre’s report on public feedback about the New Brunswick government’s shale gas industry proposals was released on October 15th, and is already attracting comments and criticisms. A retired biologist, LaPierre was commissioned by the provincial government to hold public meetings and gather public reaction concerning the government’s 116 recommendations for regulating a potential shale gas industry. In his report, Dr. Lapierre wrote that there were few comments about the government’s regulations at those meetings. Instead, the public spoke mostly about matters concerning the environment, health, water, and so on. In the concluding remarks of his report, Dr. LaPierre makes recommendations about a moratorium, a phased-approach to development, and outlines a structure for managing gas distribution.

    Today, 18 community groups supported a statement suggesting that LaPierre’s recommendations and conclusions were based on opinion, not science.

    Dr. Jean Louis Deveau, a social scientist with the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians, says that while LaPierre’s report appears to contain a fairly accurate representation of the concerns expressed at the public meetings, the report’s conclusions and recommendations are unfounded.

    “Dr. LaPierre was directed to report on people’s concerns about the government’s recommendations for regulating the industry,” Deveau explains.

    “People spoke and wrote to him. Those words and textual submissions were his data. In a proper scientific analysis, his conclusions should have been derived from the actual data he received and might have read something like this: ’New Brunswickers were faced with too many unknowns about the shale gas industry to be in a position to provide meaningful input on the government’s recommendations for regulating the industry. Therefore, they chose to voice their concerns about water, the environment, health, and so on.’ However, instead of linking his conclusions to those data, Dr. LaPierre chose to debate the pros and cons of a moratorium, a phased approach to industry development, and a management structure for a future shale gas industry in New Brunswick. In short, there is nothing in his data to support any of those concluding remarks.”

    Deveau suggests that LaPierre has actually failed to follow the science-based approach advocated in his own report and that his report amounts to little more than an opinion piece.

    Conservation Council of New Brunswick—Stephanie Merrill

    Council of Canadians, Fredericton Chapter—Jean Louis Deveau

    Council of Canadians, Saint John Chapter—Carol Ring

    Darlings Island Fracking Intervention Naguwigewauk—Doug Foster

    Friends of UNB Woodlot—Mark D’Arcy

    Hampton Water First—Chris Rendell

    Harvey Environmental Action—Terry Wishart

    Memramcook Action—Patricia Leger

    Maliseet Grand Council—Alma Brooks

    New Brunswickers Against Fracking—Stan Donovan

    Our Environment, Our Choice—Mike McKinley

    Parents Against Everyday Poisons—Michael Stoneleigh

    Penniac Anti-Shale Gas Organization--Eric Hadley

    Quality of Life Initiative—Otty Forgrave

    Tantramar Alliance—Marilyn Lerch

    Upriver Environment Watch—Ann Pohl

    Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance—Brad Wood

    Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County—Deborah Carr

  • RCMP shrugs off findings it acted illegally at Rexton raid against shale gas protesters

    Photo: RCMP officers block Highway 126 in Rexton on June 5, 2013. Shale gas protesters had gathered there to oppose shale gas exploration by SWN. Photo by Roy MacMullin.

    The Brief

    Vol. 12 No. 4 | A publication of the NB Media Co-op | December 2020/January 2021 | nbmediacoop.org

    RCMP shrugs off findings it acted illegally at Rexton raid against shale gas protesters
    By JIM EMBERGER

    The RCMP is refusing to accept several findings made by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission on the RCMP response to the 2013 RCMP raid on the anti-shale gas camp in Rexton, New Brunswick.

    Among the Commission’s findings were that the RCMP violated citizens’ Charter Rights on issues of warrantless searches, stops and spot checks, and the retention of personal and social media data gathered by the RCMP, even after it was established that an individual was cleared of any criminal or security concerns.

    The final report, released on Nov. 12, comes seven years after the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance called for the investigation.

    Without offering any new evidence to support its views, the RCMP rejected the Commission’s findings. In fact, it clearly implied that only the RCMP could judge the constitutionality of actions by its officers.

    So, if it can simply dismiss the Civilian Review Commission, is the RCMP accountable to anyone outside of its own ranks?

    That the report took seven years to complete is an obvious failure of the system, and emphasizes that ‘justice delayed is justice denied. Except for those who were there, few may remember much about the event beyond pictures of burning cars.

    Many who testified before the Commission as eyewitnesses may read this report and marvel that some of its conclusions directly contradict their testimony. This was especially true in instances where it was alleged that the RCMP arrested Indigenous protesters, while they only dispersed nonindigenous protesters.

    The Commission concluded that this did not occur, primarily because there was no supporting video evidence, and so simply resolved this issue in favour of RCMP claims. Multiple witnesses, who independently testified about such events (myself included), will not accept the conclusion that they didn’t occur, whether or not they were widespread or videotaped.

    This report also cast doubts on the RCMP’s competence and judgment. The Commission found that RCMP negotiators had reached an agreement with the protesters to calm down the tense situation, just as the tactical force was finalizing the next morning’s raid. Had the two groups actually just talked with each other, the entire incident may have been avoided.

    A primary reason for justifying the raid was ‘unverified rumours’ of weapons at the protestors’ encampment. Yet the RCMP’s own testimony revealed that its infiltrators, vehicle spot checks, personal searches and continuous surveillance had not turned up a single observation of any firearms. They had simply ‘heard rumours’ about weapons.

    The RCMP also admitted that it made a tactical error in letting several police cars remain unmanned, which led to them being burned. The implication at the time was that they were burnt by protesters.

    Credible witnesses testified that non-indigenous people, unknown to local residents, were able to approach and burn the cars and escape, without any intercession by the RCMP. As no perpetrators were ever identified, the Commission attributed the incident to a RCMP error, and they didn’t attribute the burning of the cars to the protesters or anyone else specifically.

    They did, however, dismiss the possibility that it was the result of agent provocateurs, based solely on the RCMP saying so. So, incompetence or coverup? We’ll never know.

    If one thinks that such speculation is a step too far, then I would suggest they read some academic research on this topic such as, Policing Indigenous Movements: Dissent and the Security State by Andrew Crosby and Jeffrey Monaghan. The book covers four Indigenous movements, concluding with the raid on the anti-shale gas camp near the Mi’kmaw First Nation of Elsipogtog in Rexton.

    To quote from the book’s promotion, it “raises critical questions regarding the expansion of the security apparatus, the normalization of police surveillance targeting social movements, the relationship between police and energy corporations, the criminalization of dissent and threats to civil liberties and collective action in an era of extractive capitalism and hyper surveillance.”

    It also provides context to the Commission report, which focuses solely on RCMP actions. We should not lose sight of, nor excuse, those who were ultimately responsible for this tragedy.

    New Brunswick’s Alward government refused for years to engage in discussions with a united province-wide opposition, despite huge demonstrations, petitions from tens of thousands of citizens, and expert testimony. Its intransigence and obvious collusion with the gas industry, led directly to the raid at Rexton. Ironically, that may have been the event that finally doomed shale gas and spelled the end of the Alward government.

    Unfortunately, current events, like the RCMP’s violent actions against Wet’suwet’en opposition to the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline in BC, and its failure to protect Mi’kmaw fishers in Nova Scotia, illustrate that government practices that allow the RCMP and the security services to abet corporate interests (especially fossil fuels) continue unabated.

    Commercial rights continue to supersede personal rights, and especially treaty rights, in a peculiar and twisted hierarchy of justice overlaying a barely hidden foundation of racism.

    The RCMP’s contention that it is the sole arbiter of the correctness or legality of its actions emphasizes that it, along with the intelligence services, governments, and fossil fuel interests will learn no lessons from the Commission report. And without real accountability they never will.

    Jim Emberger is the spokesperson of the New Brunswick
    Anti-Shale Gas Alliance
  • Reliance on fossil fuels is dangerously short-sighted

    Commentary by Jim Emberger, Telegraph Journal, Dec. 16, 2020

    “Distant hypothetical targets are being set, and big speeches are being given. Yet, when it comes to the immediate action we need, we are still in a state of complete denial.”

    These are the recent words of young climate activist, Greta Thunberg, concerning progress toward dealing with the climate emergency. Unfortunately, she could be talking about NB Power’s recent release of its 25-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). While claiming to pay attention to the climate crisis, the utility’s plans belie those claims.

    First, NB Power plans to extend the life of the coal burning Belledune electricity generator, one of the province’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide, to 2041: more than 10 years past its federally mandated closure.

    To put this plan in context, progress reports submitted in preparation for next year’s climate summit show the gap between our actual greenhouse gas emissions and our stated targets continues to grow.

    Simultaneously, a number of new climate models show that we potentially could pass the 1.5 C “minimally safe” increase in global temperature later this decade, and pass the more dangerous 2 C increase in the early 2030s. This prediction is bolstered by the announcement that, according to NASA, last month was the hottest November on record. What’s more, 2020 is likely to be the hottest year on record, a fitting conclusion to what will likely also be the hottest decade.

    This should lead us to conclude that our future climate efforts must be even more rigorous. As the United Nations notes, the “world’s wealthy will need to reduce their carbon footprints,” which “will require swift and substantial lifestyle changes.”

    By extending the Belledune plant, we will continue to pump large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere well after we’ve passed the likely point of no return on climate chaos. NB Power alleges that it can cut emissions elsewhere, but its claims are based on questionable assumptions, and it is hard to imagine where it can cut at the scale necessary.

    For instance, emphasis is put on maintaining or increasing natural gas usage as a low carbon emission alternative, ignoring the now-accepted science that leaking methane emissions along the entire gas supply chain makes gas no better for the climate than coal.

    The IRP also mentions that another low-carbon plan is to develop small modular nuclear reactors, a technology that currently exists only on paper. It faces hurdles of technology, safety, cost and procuring investment. But the salient point is that it will not likely be available until 2030, and later before it can be widely dispersed.

    To sum up, as we face an already serious climate crisis that is due to significantly worsen in the next decade, NB Power’s plans are to continue to use a high-polluting, out-of-date technology for 20 years, and invest in a new technology that won’t become useful until after much climate damage has already occurred.

    The IRP notes that proven, cheaper alternatives exist: namely renewable energy from sun and wind. Why aren’t they being pursued as the main pillars of our energy future?

    The excuse that they are too intermittent becomes less viable with every passing day, as advances in energy storage are being made at a dizzying pace.

    What’s more, our province has a unique opportunity to take part in the “Atlantic Loop,” a project that would bring stable and low or even no-carbon energy from hydro dams in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. In concert with renewables, our energy supply could be ample, stable and potentially exportable to New England.

    Though questionable, NB Power’s plans are not as off-base as the advice offered in a recent op-ed (“Oil and gas are a missed opportunity for Atlantic Canada,” Dec. 7) penned by researchers with the Canadian Energy Centre, an Alberta government corporation which was created to promote the interests and reputation of the provincial oil and gas sector.

    Its authors claim that now is the time for New Brunswick to start a natural gas and oil industry. This is strange advice coming from Alberta, a province where the oil and gas industry has plummeted – even before the pandemic – with huge losses of investment, industry bankruptcies, decimated tax and royalty payments, the loss of many thousands of jobs and a multi-billion dollar tab for oil and gas industry cleanup.

    They assume that we will continue to use fossil fuels, despite the climate crisis. Therefore, they argue, it makes more economic sense to produce our own rather than buy from elsewhere. This argument that we ought to knowingly contribute to the looming climate crisis is bizarre, particularly given that so many scientists argue that any new fossil fuel project is an act of economic and environmental self-harm.

    As people finally pay attention to scientists about COVID-19, one can only hope that this enlightened attitude will spill over to the much larger, and more dangerous, climate crisis.

    The time for rhetoric about long-range goals and inadequate plans to achieve them is long past. As Greta Thunberg’s clear-headed logic indicates, we need reality-based action, and we need it now.

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

  • Reminder - PRESS RELEASE : Walk For A Ban On Fracking

    For Immediate Release             PRESS RELEASE                November 26, 2011

    Walk for a ban on fracking – stop ”fracking“ with our water and air

    FREDERICTON NB ---- A citizen march through downtown Fredericton, culminating with a rally at the Provincial Legislature, will take place on Tuesday November 27th to demand a stop to unconventional natural gas development in NB.

    On Legislature Opening Day, Tuesday November 27th, about 40 groups and hundreds of individuals will commemorate last year’s rally against shale gas, and show solidarity with the 20,000 people who signed the 2011 petition, with “a walk for a ban on fracking” through Fredericton.

    The peaceful walk will begin at 11am at the Old Burial grounds and will finish with a rally between noon and 1 pm in front of the Legislature Building with a number of brief speaker presentations.

    “The goal of Tuesday’s walk and rally is to demand an immediate stop to unconventional natural gas exploration and permitting”, says Julia Linke (PhD) of the Fredericton chapter of The Council of Canadians.

    The groups and organizations that have already joined or endorsed this event are a real cross-section of both rural and urban New Brunswick and include 24 community groups, 6 NGOs, 3 union organizations, 2 political parties, and 4 student groups.

    Jim Emberger of the Taymouth Community Association states “The opposition to shale gas fracking is only increasing in this province, as the government fails to produce any business case supporting their claims about jobs and royalties, while it continues to relax environmental protection of our wetlands, watersheds, and air to make way for this industry”. 

    See: Walk For A Ban On Fracking – Stop Fracking With Our Water and Air

    *******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

    Pour publication immédiate      COMMUNIQUÉ                    26 novembre 2012

    Marche pour interdire la fracturation – Cessez de spéculer avec notre eau et notre air

    FREDERICTON NB ---- Une marche à Fredericton qui se terminera par un rassemblement à l’Assemblée législative aura lieu le mardi 27 novembre pour demander de mettre fin à l’exploitation non traditionnelle du gaz naturel au NB.

    À l’ouverture de l’Assemblée législative, le mardi 27 novembre, environ 40 groupes et des centaines de personnes vont se rappeler le rassemblement de l’an dernier et démontrer leur solidarité avec les 20 000 personnes qui ont signé la pétition, en participant à une marche à Fredericton pour interdire la fracturation hydraulique. 

    Cette marche pacifique va commencer à 11 h au vieux cimetière et se terminera avec un rassemblement entre midi et 13 heures devant l’édifice de l’Assemblée législative.  De brèves discours seront présentés.

    « Le but de la marche et du rassemblement de mardi est d'exiger un arrêt immédiate de l’exploration et de l’exploitation par méthode non traditionnelle du gaz naturel, » affirme Julia Linke (PhD) du chapitre de Fredericton du Conseil des Canadiens.

    Les groupes et les organisations qui se sont déjà joints à cette manifestation ou qui l’ont endossée constituent un véritable échantillon des populations rurales et urbaines du Nouveau-Brunswick, et ils incluent 24 groupes des collectivités, 6 ONG, 3 organisations professionnelles/syndicats, 2 partis politiques, et 4 groupes d’ étudiants.

    Jim Emberger de l’Association communautaire de Taymouth dit « L’opposition à la fracturation ne peut que s’accroitre dans la province, parce que ce gouvernement ne réussit pas à présenter une analyse de rentabilité pour appuyer ses prétentions concernant les emplois et les redevances tout en continuant à affaiblir la protection environnementale de nos zones humides, de nos bassins versants et de notre atmosphère pour faire place à cette industrie. »

    Voir « Marche pour interdire la fracturation – Cessez de spéculer avec notre eau et notre air »

  • Say no to shale gas in N.B. — send your letter today!

    Frack Letter BY
    We need to speak up for the health and safety of New Brunswickers.

    Premier Blaine Higgs says his minority Progressive Conservative government will end the province-wide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and allow the controversial and risky process in the Sussex region. And Premier Higgs wants to do it fast — before the New Year.

    Use your voice to let the Premier know this is bad public policy. The Conservation Council has launched an easy-to-use letter-writing tool so you can have your say on fracking to your local Member of the Legislative Assembly, Premier Higgs, and all political party leaders.

    Click here to send our pre-written letter (which you can edit freely) today.

    Why should I send my #noshalegas letter?

    New Brunswickers know that climate change is here, now, and already impacting our communities. It is time to diversify our energy toward the huge potential of renewable sources and turn the page on the fossil fuels causing climate change and impacting our health.

    Fracking is not worth the risks it poses to our drinking water, our environment, or our health and safety.

    There are now more than 1,300 scientific studies, journalistic investigations and government regulatory reports on every aspect of shale gas extraction. The overwhelming majority of them substantiate the threats that the industry poses towards public health, water and the environment, and climate change.

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    *Picture: Families, farmers, and New Brunswickers of all walks of life rally to protect their health and water from the threat of shale gas development.

    Climate change

    Burning oil, coal and gas is not good for our health. These energy sources pollute the air we breathe, contaminate the water we drink, and unbalance the climate we depend on. Renewable energy using solar, wind, hydro or other technologies is a clean way to deliver the power we need. Renewing our energy system lowers air pollution, protects water, and helps slow climate change.  The good news is that we have what it takes to renew our energy system.

    This is where the good jobs are headed. Canadians know energy, and we have the can-do attitude and skills needed to build the renewable energy system almost all Canadians want. The most competitive economies are heavily investing in their clean energy sectors. Shifting to more energy-efficient and clean forms of renewable energy to power our economy is the surest way to maintain Canadian jobs and create new economic opportunities for New Brunswickers. Our province can accelerate the renewal of its energy system by developing its abundant renewable energy sources. And, in doing so, we join the growing group of forward-thinking jurisdictions creating opportunities for workers, businesses and communities.

    Water and air pollution

    Methane, fracking fluids and other drilling chemicals have been proven to enter waterways via leaking wells, spills, pipeline breaks, well blowouts, truck accidents and floods.  In addition to making water wells undrinkable and causing illnesses, contaminated waters have killed farm animals, wildlife, fish, vegetation and have left farmlands unusable. Many studies have linked airborne illnesses to density and nearness of gas wells, some documenting problems up to 4km from wells.  Because airborne pollution can be inhaled, swallowed, and also reach the skin, it has emerged as one of the primary public health concerns.  Other shale gas chemicals have created ground-level ozone over 300 km from the source, aggravating asthma, respiratory diseases and causing irreparable lung damage. These are just a few of the risks fracking poses to New Brunswickers. To learn more, check out these helpful resources:

    Recommended resources:

  • The Declining Business Case for Shale Gas

    Jim Emberger - Commentary, Telegraph-Journal, Daily Gleaner August 24, 2018

    At a recent oil and gas industry conference, Terry Spencer, head of natural gas infrastructure company, ONEOK, told the audience: “One of these days, one of these big ol’ fracs will be operated with nobody there..... We are as an industry working towards where we can operate 24/7, unattended.”

    He wasn’t forecasting the distant future.

    In 2016, the Houston Chronicle was already reporting,“These new rigs, using sophisticated software and robotics, could reduce the number of people working in the oil patch by up to 40 per cent.”  The article continues: “The Holy Grail [is] to not have to touch the pipe and totally automate the process.”

    The 2014 fossil fuel crash forced companies to slash the number of drilling rigs and lay off 440,000 workers. Although the number of rigs is slowly growing back, analysts say that half the workers may never return.

    That’s because the fracking industry, despite its growth, has always been mired in debt – the Wall Street Journal calculates US$280 billion. To have any chance of reaching profitability, the industry must cut costs, meaning eliminating jobs and increasing automation.

    For example, SWN, the American company once exploring in New Brunswick, has announced it will layoff 200 workers to save on annual personnel costs of $65 million.

    Since the fracking industry has always sold itself as a source of high-paying, blue-collar jobs, it doesn’t publicize that many of those jobs are now disappearing.  Replacing workers with machines is masked as “efficiencies” and “cost-savings,” and, with no apparent sense of shame, as “worker safety measures.”

    Industry debt also leads to numerous bankruptcies and company closures, posing financial threats to taxpayers and landowners in the form of thousands of abandoned, often leaking, gas and oil wells.

    Governments should have demanded sufficient funds from the industry in advance to cover the costs of closing wells, but did not. Industry claimed it couldn’t afford the upfront cost.  Now, bankruptcy laws that give creditors first access to the assets of insolvent companies leave little money to remediate abandoned wells.

    Saskatchewan’s auditor general estimates the problem will cost the province $4 billion, while Alberta, with its hundreds-of-thousands of wells, faces a mind-numbing $47 billion in future costs.  Saskatchewan has already asked Ottawa for a few hundred million until they can figure out a long-term plan, so we can surmise that federal and provincial taxpayers will be on the hook for bailout money.

    Any taxpayer bailout will be a bitter pill, as the industry already receives billions from Canadian taxpayer subsidies, another fact not discussed. The International Monetary Fund estimates that Canada’s subsidies to the natural gas industry are 44-per cent greater than its foreign aid payments.

    The British Columbia government, for instance, offers exemptions from income, sales and climate taxes, provides lower electricity rates, and offers extremely generous “royalty credits for fracking operations.”  The Energy Ministry calculates that these “credits” equal nearly $5 billion in lost royalty revenue.

    Despite generous subsidies, Alberta (our largest gas producer) has seen royalties plummet 90 per cent since 2008: from $5 billion down to $500 million.This explains why the Petroleum Services Association of Canada just announced a decrease in Canadian natural gas drilling this year, citing low natural gas prices and reduced demand.It noted: “Many companies are sitting at near break-even points or are still in negative territory.... This is not sustainable from a business continuity and competitiveness perspective,” and explains the “lack of attractiveness for investment.”

    These subsidies, debts and job losses occur in tandem, with multiple economists warning that market forces may turn Canada’s billions of dollars of fossil fuel infrastructure into worthless “stranded assets” by 2030.

    All of this news comes from industry or government sources.

    So why would conservatives, economists and various chambers of commerce members who write newspaper commentaries promoting shale gas not address any of these issues? One would expect that, as businesspeople, they would be aware of the industry’s financial and trade news.

    What are we to think when they endlessly repeat the meaningless phrase “responsible resource development” while displaying no more detailed knowledge about shale gas economics than they do about its health and environmental threats?

    Should we pin our economic hopes on an industry built on subsidies, debt and potentially huge costs to taxpayers, one that provides fewer jobs with each passing year, while putting our health, environment and climate at risk?

    Or, should we instead keep the moratorium on fracking, and choose a business sector with an economic case that is booming with jobs and prospects. Clean Energy Canada’s recent study of a basic energy efficiency plan for New Brunswick shows that by 2030 we could increase GDP by $5 billion and create 25,879 jobs.

    Going beyond the basic plan, and adding renewable energy, makes those numbers skyrocket. These aren’t imaginary figures. Jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy far outnumber those in the fossil fuel industries, while ensuring a healthier, more sustainable, future.

    Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NoShaleGasNB. ca)
  • Tories are incoherent on 'regional social licence'

    Tories are incoherent on 'regional social licence'

    Jim Emberger,Commentary, Telegraph Journal   September 13, 2018

    The freshly released Progressive Conservatives platform contains only a single sentence on shale gas, and leaves "regional social license" – mooted by leader Blaine Higgs in April – entirely unexplained.

    Even without adequate detail in the platform, the very concept is a clear case of putting the cart before the horse.

    The shale gas moratorium’s first condition sensibly dictates that, before social license can be granted, citizens must receive “clear and credible information about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment and water.”

    As I have documented in previous articles, the “clear and credible evidence” from science and public health studies, court cases, journalistic investigations and government regulatory actions reveal shale gas impacts including:
    • A host of serious diseases affecting those living near gas wells, and especially the unborn. 
    • Water contamination from every aspect of industry activity.
    • Leaking methane from gas infrastructure, making it a leading contributor to climate change.
    • Toxic wastewater created by fracking, with no safe way of disposal.
    • Universally inadequate regulations and oversight, plus the precarious financial state of the industry, means that these threats continue unabated.
    As the Progressive Conservatives haven’t provided the public with any credible evidence that these risks have been addressed, how can they ask anyone for social license?

    Meanwhile, extensive government reviews of shale gas elsewhere have almost unanimously led to bans or moratoriums. These include Quebec, Canada’s Maritime Provinces, 19 of the 25 countries of the European Union, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and several U.S. and Australian states. Mexico, a major fossil fuel producer, is banning fracking.

    In many U.S. states that launched the shale industry before conducting public reviews, hundreds of cities and counties have passed resolutions restricting fracking.

    Before New Brunswick's last election, over 70 municipalities and dozens of medical, public health, religious, community, environmental and indigenous groups called for a moratorium – including Mr. Higgs’ community of Quispamsis.

    The PCs apparently are aware of this widespread public opposition, and attempt to sidestep it by claiming that fracking will be limited to Sussex and Albert County, because those localities want it.

    Yet the municipality of Sussex Corner supported the moratorium, as did citizen groups in the nearby agricultural area of Cornhill, and in Penobsquis, where existing gas wells are located.

    In Albert County, the municipalities of Hillsborough and Alma supported the moratorium, as did the neighboring city of Moncton. Citizen groups – e.g. the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance, Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County, and the Chepoudy Communities Revitalization Committee – have reaffirmed their support for the moratorium.

    So who will grant "social license," and how is "regional" defined? The PC platform contains nary a clue.

    Do businessmen reaping financial benefits, but living away from the wells, get the same vote as pregnant mothers living next to gas wells, who – willingly or not – will assume greater health risks?

    Airborne chemical pollution affects those with asthma and respiratory problems up to hundreds of kilometres away. Likewise, waterborne contaminants can travel the length of whatever waterways they enter. How far downstream and downwind is the regional line drawn for health and environmental risks? 

    Increased health care and road repair costs have been documented everywhere a shale gas industry exists, as have the costs of dealing with abandoned wells. These financial risks and costs will be borne by all the taxpayers of New Brunswick.

    Leaking methane gas damages the climate for everyone.

    These widespread risks to health and environment from fracking have been proven. Living on one side of some arbitrary regional line doesn’t grant the right to accept those risks for everyone.

    The ethics of medical research require that every individual give their informed consent to be a ‘guinea pig’ before being exposed to toxic, carcinogenic or untested chemicals. Fracking, which uses hundreds of such chemicals, is a massive uncontrolled experiment and should require no less a standard.

    And yet, the PCs are running with the slogan that they will restore trust. 

    Mr. Higgs recently wrote a commentary in this newspaper on his plans to fight climate change ("A carbon plan, not a carbon tax," Aug. 18, A11). It did not once mention his policy on shale gas. Does he know the gas industry is a major contributor to climate change?

    Also unaddressed is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The rapid depletion of shale gas wells means the industry must continually drill new wells. Thus, a "regional" industry won’t stay regional for long. 

    The PCs have not discussed these concerns, or any of the risks catalogued above. Their platform does not even contain the words "shale," "fracking," or "moratorium." Doesn’t the path to trust demand a demonstration that one understands and can discuss the concerns now, before the election?

    If facts don’t support a policy, the policy must change. Not discussing the facts won’t build trust.

    Canada’s Dr. John Cherry, one of the world’s foremost experts on groundwater contamination, testified before our Commission on Hydrofracturing, noting, “It is hard to make the case for social license if you have no scientific proof of safety.” These are words the PCs, and indeed all New Brunswickers, need to heed.

    Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.
  • Toughest shale gas regulations in North America? – Not anymore

    For Immediate Release
    PRESS RELEASE
    22 November 2012

    Toughest shale gas regulations in North America? – Not anymore

    Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada – New Brunswick government introduces a loophole that exempts all shale gas operations from the provincial Clean Air Act.

    The Alward government has proposed exempting certain businesses from the Clean Air Act implemented in 1997 to protect New Brunswickers from the harmful effects of air pollution. Air pollution results in premature deaths, as well as tens of thousands of hospital administrations and emergency room visits by Canadians experiencing respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses.

    “The Alward government pledged to develop world-class regulations to oversee the shale gas industry – to strengthen existing regulations and not dismantle them,” says Mark D’Arcy, a member of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians.
    In a speech to the Moncton Chamber of Commerce on October 3rd 2011 Premier David Alward said, “We actually have a strong set of policies and regulations already. But we need them to go further to ensure New Brunswickers and our environment will remain protected. And we’ll make sure they do go further. As a matter of fact, we’ll make sure New Brunswick has some of the toughest regulations governing exploration and development on this continent.”

    “By relaxing these standards the Alward government is doing exactly the opposite of what it continually promises the public,” says D’Arcy.

    Under the current classification (Clean Air Act, 1997), shale gas companies fall under a Class 4 designation. Class 4 criteria require emissions less than: 1) 10 tonnes per year of either sulphur dioxide or particulate matter and 2) 30 tonnes of gas per minute.

    The proposed amendment, allegedly targeting small heating plants, reads as follows: ‘if the sulphur dioxide emissions released into the environment are less than 10 tonnes per year and the particulate matter emissions released into the environment are less than 10 tonnes per year, no approval is required…’

    Note that the only criteria being targeted for exemption coincidentally relate directly to the manner in which the shale gas industry is currently classified.

    “This is like saying that to get your driver’s license you must be 16 or over and pass both written and road tests. However, in another superseding section of the Motor Vehicle Act it would state that anyone 16 or over is exempt from all driving tests. Does this make any sense?” says D’Arcy. “First wetlands, next watersheds, and now air sheds are available for deregulated development.”



    Reference:
    Response to Proposed Amendment to the Air Quality Regulation 97-133 under the Clean Air Act
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