• US Data Backs Fracking Moratorium

    Date: March 10, 2021

    Edited versions of this Commentary by Jim Emberger were printed in the 10 March 2021 editions of The Daily Gleaner, The Times Transcript, and in the Telegraph Journal.

    In mid-March New Brunswick shale gas leases held by US corporation, ‘SWN’, will expire, and there is no word if SWN will seek a renewal or extension.

    Ten years ago SWN showed up in our communities; igniting a nearly 5 year, hard-fought, citizen opposition campaign that defeated the Alward government, and brought a moratorium on hydrofracking.

    Anniversaries are times to reflect on what might have been.  By fortunate coincidence, the Ohio River Valley Institute just released an economic retrospective of 2008 – 2018 for the 22 counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia that make up the Marcellus and Utica shale gas formations.

    Gas proponents frequently cited these premier shale gas areas as a model for New Brunswick, and the Marcellus is home to SWN.

    The Natural Gas Fracking Boom and Appalachia’s Lost Economic Decade,” summarizes the decade as one that saw these counties pumping an enormous amount of gas, greatly boosting GDP, while simultaneously lagging economically behind both their states and the nation.

    While jobs grew by 9.9% nationally, and by 3.9% in other counties in their states, the shale gas counties grew jobs by only 1.6%. Personal income growth was similar; the shale counties were well behind the national average, and slightly behind their states. Most tellingly, the shale gas counties actually saw a loss of population, while their states and the nation grew.

    In one county, where shale accounted for 60 percent of the economy, GDP grew five times faster than the nation’s, but jobs declined by 7%, and population by 2%.  Only about 12% of the gas income went to wages and employment. The lion’s share went to shareholders, plus equipment and workers brought from other places.

    The report concludes, “It is a case of economic growth without prosperity, the defining characteristic of the ‘resource curse’.”

    Report author Sean O’Leary noted, “What’s really disturbing is that these disappointing results came about at a time when the region’s natural gas industry was operating at full capacity. So it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the results would be better.”

    The reasons are clear: boom-and-bust extractive industries create extreme economic volatility, which makes it difficult to start or expand other businesses.

    Drilling is capital intensive, but it doesn’t employ a lot of people.

    Air, water, and noise pollution, and their impacts on health and environment, drive people away.

    The Executive Director of the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, (serving the region) noted, “More than two dozen peer-reviewed epidemiological studies show a correlation between living near shale gas development and a host of health issues, such as worsening asthmas, heart failure hospitalizations, premature births, and babies born with low birth weights and birth defects.”

    Environment/climate writer, Ben Parfitt, recently provided a Canadian retrospective about BC’s once-hyped Fort Nelson shale play (also hailed as a model by the Alward government).

    As Parfitt describes it, “where once there were traffic jams in the middle of nowhere with idled 18-wheelers, lined bumper-to-bumper for as far as the eye could see, today you can drive the 320 kilometre round-trip to the Cabin gas plant from Fort Nelson and not see a soul.”

    What you can see, however, are many of BC’s 770 orphaned gas wells. Five years ago, there were just 45. The clean-up costs will cost taxpayers billions.

    Citizens, citing non-industry expert witnesses, predicted these types of economic outcomes in testimony before the 2014 NB Commission on Hydrofracturing. They also accurately predicted that fracking would cause earthquakes, that the hundreds of toxic fracking chemicals would cause pollution and health problems, and that no safe method of disposal for toxic wastewater would be found.

    Prior to the Commission the government listened solely to industry PR and pie-in-the-sky sales pitches. Though some were obviously unbelievable, (ex. 100,000 wells had been drilled with never a problem) they promised politicians a magic economic silver bullet with lots of jobs – on paper.

    Unfortunately, our current politicians may not have learned a lesson from shale gas. Based solely on a new industry’s claims, the government is investing millions of taxpayer dollars in small modular nuclear reactors, ignoring citizens’ informed concerns.

    Though this technology exists only on paper, the industry promises lots of jobs – 10 or 15 years from now. The industry promises that it can handle new forms of radioactive waste – in theory. It claims it will be the next big energy source – yet it depends on taxpayer financing, with little private investment.

    Since citizen research-based opposition was spot on with shale gas, why does the government continue to only pay attention to shiny sales brochures from corporations looking for handouts?

    Jim Emberger is spokesman for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance
  • VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR - PRESS CONFERENCE STATEMENT


    Voice of the People Tour kick-off

    Delta Hotel Fredericton - March 20 2014

    Who are we?Firstly, the Voice of the People Tour is being organized by concerned citizens through various community organizations: the Council of Canadians, the New Brunswick Anti Shale Gas Alliance, the Fredericton District Labour Council and Unifor. We are working together to bring these important issues to the people in our communities.

    The Voice of the People Tour will be coming to communities in every corner of the province. We want to hear your voice!

    The purpose of our tour is to provide public education about shale gas and clean energy.


    We will be asking the people in our communities:


    • • Do we know everything we need to about shale gas?
    • • Is shale gas the only way to create jobs?
    • • What do you want in your backyard?
    The town hall meetings will provide an overview of scientific evidence of the effects of shale gas development, specifically hydraulic fracturing of shale gas. We also want to discuss possible alternatives to shale gas development, namely clean energy and clean jobs.

    Our concerns are broadly shared. We are here today in solidarity with many other organizations who have given their endorsement to the Voice of the People Tour.Why? Because they too are concerned with the dangers of shale gas and the lack of consultation with the people.  


    These organizations are:

    CUPE
    Unifor
    Fredericton and District Labour Council
    The New Brunswick Federation of Labour
    New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance
    Council of Canadians
    Conservation Council of New Brunswick
    The National Farmers Union
    And more...

    The tour will highlight why so many organizations and people are against shale gas, including 130 New Brunswick municipalities, community organizations, and professional associations. Most recently, many labour unions have called for a Provincial/national moratorium on shale gas development.

    Why have the citizens organized this tour? Because we believe that the peoples' voice is vital in democracy. Over the past 4 years there has been little to no consultation or public meetings initiated by the government, nor by industry. So, people are organizing themselves. Also, there has been no consultation with the First Peoples of this land.

    In addition, the Government of New Brunswick has failed to provide the public with peer reviewed scientific evidence of the harmful effects of shale gas fracking, and shale gas development. The people are not getting the information they need.

    The Premier would have us believe that shale gas is the only way to create jobs in this Province. We know this is not true. In fact, according to Blue-Green Canada, for the same investment there are seven times more jobs created with clean energy and building efficiency than with the oil and gas industry.

    For example, The 2013 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry report showed that there were double the number of clean energy workers compared with the number of natural gas workers in neighbouring shale gas state of Pennsylvania. 80,000 jobs were created in the clean energy versus 40,000 jobs in the natural gas sector.

    Clean jobs and green energy are possible and more financially viable and long term. Shale gas jobs disappear once the wells are drilled.

    It makes more sense for New Brunswick to invest in clean energy alternatives instead of shale gas. It's safer and creates more jobs. To do otherwise would be a lost opportunity for our Province.

    We believe the people will be the problem solvers in this tour.

    The people have this responsibility.
     

    Signed - 
    The Voice of the People Coalition

    voiceofthepeopletour@gmail.com


     

  • VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Download and Distribute The Poster Now!

    THE 'VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR'

    Download and Distribute the Poster Today!

    BONUS Flyer Template: Saint John Meeting April 5th!!

    Voice Of The People Tour Poster - Colour Large Size PDF
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  • VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results for Perth Andover NB May 21 2014

    VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results for Perth Andover NB May 21 2014

    1. Government should represent people not the Irvings (18)

    2. Create local jobs that stay in the community (10)

    3. (tie)
    - Stop media control by Irving (9)

    - Kick the Alward government out (9)

    - Pressure government to kick-start renewable energy (9)

    4. (tie)
    - Give back control of our forests to NBers. Remove control by Irving (8)

    - No pipeline (8)

    - Elect politicians who don't want shale gas (8)

    5. (tie)
    - Create your own job - more opportunity for small business, self sufficiency (7)

    - Cultivate Hemp (7)

    6. Promote food products from our forests, ecotourism, native medicines (6)

    7. (tie)
    - Keep big logs and trees and process them here, add value (4)

    - Community owned and run forestry (4)

    - Policies to replace imports with domestic goods (4)

    Study successful plans in Vermont, Nova Scotia, etc and implement here in NB (4)

    8. (tie)
    - Community gardens (3)

    - Maintain good jobs, education and health care (3)

    - People need to get informed (3)
  • VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results for Rexton NB and area May 14 2014

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

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

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


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

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

    2. Boycott Irving (83 dots)

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

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

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

    6. Honour Aboriginal land and rights (51 dots)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    15. Challenge the establishment and their use of words to obscure the truth & take away our rights (2 dots)
  • VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results for Stanley NB May 27 2014

    VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results for Stanley NB May 27 2014


    70 people attended the  Stanley Voice of the People Town Hall Wednesday evening. Here are the Red Dot Poll results:

    1) Need community meetings to generate ideas about creating our own industries, just like at this town hall meeting

    2) Our water must be protected!

    3) Stop the centralization of power and industry in NB ( lack of democracy)

    4) Moratorium on shale gas

    5) We want long term jobs for our children and a clean future

    6) Bring back sustainable forestry not plantations

    7) Business opportunities for wind energy in NB

    8) Need more tools to create small, local economies

    9) Keep our children here by rural development 

    10) Home owners need incentives to generate own power i.e. Solar, biogas, windmill
  • VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results for Sussex NB and area May 8 2014

    VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results for Sussex NB and area May 8 2014


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

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

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

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

    5)  NB needs more emphasis on sustainable industry incentives

    6)  Proportional representation is needed for electoral reform

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

    8) Reduce toxins - Take NB out of a sacrifice zone 
  • VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results Summary for St. Stephen and area May 1 2014

        VOICE OF THE PEOPLE TOUR: Red Dot Poll Results Summary for St. Stephen and area, May 1, 2014


    1)  Stop (moratorium or ban) shale gas in NB to protect our water and 7 generations

    2)  Protect our aquifers

    3)  Take corporations out of politics

    4)  (Tie)

    -      We need value-added here in NB, e.g. wood products

    -      Allow hemp industry in NB

    5)  (Tie)

    -      NB must provide a complete set of tools to allow citizens, communities and co-ops, farmers, etc. to invest in local energy projects

    -      Community economic development investment funds

    -      Good feed-in tariff rate

    -      Investment tax credits for co-ops

    -      Begin community discussions on creating renewable energy opportunities

    6)  (Tie)

    -      Stop forest agreement with Irving. We need to get our crown forests back

    -      Change the way we vote: Kick out the Liberals and PC’s and vote in other party candidates

    -      Focus on renewable energy and our own communities. We need to take care of ourselves and do it sustainably. e.g. local food and local forestry


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

     For Immediate Release                PRESS RELEASE                       November 21, 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.

    In November of last year, over 20,000 New Brunswickers demanded a ban on shale gas development and production with petitions to the Legislature. In addition, many different New Brunswick associations have passed resolutions for either a ban or a moratorium on unconventional natural gas development over the past year. These include:

    1. 1)  Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick with 51 members (Oct. 2011)
    2. 2)  New Brunswick Nurses Union with 6900 members (Dec. 2011);
    3. 3)  NB National Farmers Union with 150 farms as members (March 2012);
    4. 4)  Maritime Conference of the United Church of Canada (March 2012);
    5. 5)  Canadian Union of Public Employees with 30,000 members (April 2012);
    6. 6)  New Brunswick College of Family Physicians with 700 members (April 2012)
    7. 7)  Medical Staff at Sackville Memorial Hospital (May 2012);
    8. 8)  Medical Doctors of the Moncton Hospital (June 2012);
    9. 9)  The Federation of Rural New Brunswickers (FoR NB)
    10. 10) Medical Doctors at Georges Dumont Hospital, Moncton (Sept. 2012) and
    11. 11) A number of municipalities (Moncton, Sackville, Memramcook, Minto, Stanley, Bathurst,Corner, Quispamsis).

    “The NB government has not given any indication that it is willing to listen to any of these calls for a moratorium or ban,” says Marilyn Lerch of the Tantramar Alliance against Hydrofracking. “On the contrary, the very first motion of the Second Session of the Legislative Assembly ignored the petitions and confirmed the Progressive Conservative policy for ’responsible‘ development of New Brunswick’s Natural Gas reserves.”

    “Natural gas reserves in NB are unconventional, meaning that they can only be extracted with a relatively new technology called high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking)”, explains Stephanie Merrill of CCNB Action. “Fracking is an inherently contaminating industrial process that injects trillions of liters of water laced with toxic chemicals at enormous pressure to break apart rock and release hydrocarbons from underground formations such as shale and sandstone.”

    “There is mounting evidence from other jurisdictions that the health, social and environmental risks are serious and the economics are hyped” states Adjunct University of Calgary Professor Guillermo Castilla. “Therefore, our government has a duty to prevent harm and stop any further development until this technology is proven safe and a comprehensive business case is developed”.

    “The goal of Tuesday’s walk and rally is to commemorate the 20,000 New Brunswickers whose petition for a ban on fracking was ignored, and to demand an immediate stop to unconventional natural gas exploration and permitting”, says Julia Linke of the Fredericton chapter of The Council of Canadians. “This means an immediate stop to: ongoing shale gas exploration, the granting of any new licenses, and the renewal of existing ones” Dr. Linke itemized.

    “The groups and organizations that have already joined or endorsed this event are a real cross-section of both rural and urban New Brunswick” states Jim Emberger of the Taymouth Community Association. “The opposition to 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”.

    ”Unconventional natural gas exploration will affect all of New Brunswick, cities, towns and rural communities” says Sackville Town CouncillorMargaret Tusz-King, “and it is significant that so many New Brunswickers are coming together in solidarity at this Legislature Opening protest, and showingtheir public support for a stop to a development that could change the face of our picture province forever.”

    On Tuesday November 27th, groups and citizens will commemorate last year’s rally, and show solidarity with the 20,000 people whose petition was ignored, 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 groups/organizations that have already joined and/or endorsed this event is as follows:

    A) Community groups: 1) Citizens Coalition for Clean Air, 2) Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis, 3) Friends of Mount Carleton, 4) Hampton Water First, 5) Harvey Environmental Action Team; 6) Memramcook Action, 7) New Brunswickers Against Fracking, 8) Parents Against Everyday Poisons, 9) Taymouth Community Association, 10) Tantramar Alliance Against Hydrofracking, 11) Notre Environnement, Notre Choix, 12) Upriver Environment Watch, 13) Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance, 14) Darlings Island Fracking Intervention Naguwigewauk, 15) Friends of the UNB Woodlot, 16) Penniac Anti-Shale-Gas Organization, 17) Quality of Life Initiative, 18) Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance, 19) Stanley Area Action Group, 20) Sustainable Energy Group, 21) Maliseet Grand Council, 22) Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County, 23) Cornhill Area Residents Association and 24) The Federation of Rural New Brunswickers (ForNB)

    B) NGOs: 1) CCNB ACTION, 2) NB Lung Association 3) ecoFredericton Sustainable Living Inc., 4) Council of Canadians – Saint John Chapter, 5) Council of Canadians – Fredericton Chapter and 6) Sierra Club Atlantic

    C) Professional/Trade Organizations: 1) Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), 2) NB National Farmers Union (NFU NB) and 3) Fredericton & District Labour Council

    D) Political Parties: Green Party and NDP

    E) Youth and Young Adults: 1) Grade 5 Class of Chief Harold Sappier Memorial Elementary School, St. Mary’s First Nation, Fredericton 2) Saint Thomas & UNB Students, 3) Eco-action group of Mount Allison University and 4) NB Craft College Students

    F) Facebook Groups: “New Brunswick is NOT for sale”, “SAY NO TO SHALE GAS IN NEW BRUNSWICK”, “NoShaleGasNB”, “Upriver Environment Watch” and “Ban Hydraulic Fracturing (hydro-fracking) In New Brunswick”

    Link: Marche Pour Interdire la Fracturation

  • Ward 10 Residents Request for Shale Gas Consultation Meeting Shut Down

     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    NEWS RELEASE,  JULY 24, 2012

    Ward 10 Residents Request for Shale Gas Consultation Meeting Shut Down

    Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada – Provincial government officials deny local grassroots residents group request for participation in province wide information and consultation process on shale gas development in New Brunswick.

    On June 28th a letter was signed by many residents attending a crowded Ward 10 Residents Association meeting in Fredericton.  The letter responded to concerns by many residents that they were not being sufficiently informed and consulted on shale gas development as originally promised by Premier Alward in recent speeches and the election.

    "Over the last several months, Fredericton residents, including those in Ward 10, have expressed concerns about not having been invited to participate in a meaningful conversation about the development and regulation of a shale gas industry in New Brunswick,” said Leah Levac, Fredericton city councillor for Ward 10. “In my conversations with residents, many have expressed a desire to receive more information about the province's plans regarding shale gas development so that they can develop an informed opinion on the matter". 

    The letter asked, "Dr. Louis LaPierre and the Natural Gas Group to meet with the Ward 10 Residents Association in Fredericton (before the end of July 2012) so our residents can be informed on shale gas regulations and have a voice in this important process.”

    The following morning, the letter was mailed and emailed to the Natural Gas Group as well as copied to provincial and city politicians. On July 20th, the Ward 10 Residents Association was told that it could meet with Dr. LaPierre and the Natural Gas Group for 20 minutes. The group was also told that it would have to share the 20 minutes with the Friends of the UNB Woodlot, and that no more than three Ward 10 residents were allowed to participate.

    The group feels that attempts to respond to Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup's announcement which read, “we look forward to hearing from New Brunswickers [during Dr. LaPierre's consultation]” (press release), and to his open invitation to any “groups or associations” to meet with LaPierre and the Natural Gas Group are being undermined.

    “The shale gas public consultation tour missed a majority of our population by not even going to Moncton, Saint John or Fredericton,” said Ward 10 resident Taeyon Kim.  “How can even three Ward 10 residents make any informed decision in 20 minutes shared with another group?”

    The Ward 10 Residents Association will only participate in a consultation process that is democratic and transparent.  On October 3rd 2011 David Alward gave a speech to the Moncton Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Greater Moncton on shale gas development and the importance of public information and consultation on this issue.  Mr Alward referred to “town hall and information meetings” where MLAs could “hear directly from their constituents on this important issue.”  Later in the speech he added, “It’s a discussion we as New Brunswickers all need to have.”

    “I met with my MLA, Brian MacDonald, and he agreed with our request for a meeting with the Natural Gas Group, that allows residents to become fully informed and consulted on shale gas development in New Brunswick,” said Ward 10 resident Garth Hood.  “He said he would do everything within his power to help us get this public meeting.”

    The association fully agrees with Mr. Alward that, “It’s a discussion that we as New Brunswickers all need to have.” The association does not agree that Ward 10 residents have been given any open and democratic public opportunity for informed discussion. This is why the Ward 10 Residents Association is repeating the original request:

    The Ward 10 Residents Association requests that Dr. LaPierre and the Natural Gas Group hold a public meeting within Fredericton so all residents can be fully informed and consulted on shale gas development in New Brunswick.

    Posted For Ward 10 Residents Association

    Media Contact: Taeyon Kim frederictonward10residents@gmail.com

  • 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