• Pour diffusion immédiate
    Le 21 novembre 2018

    FREDERICTON — Après avoir pris connaissance du discours du Trône du premier ministre Blaine Higgs, M. Jim Emberger, porte-parole de l’Alliance anti-gaz de schiste du Nouveau-Brunswick (AAGSNB), a déclaré que son organisation fait preuve d’un « optimisme prudent concernant la volonté et la capacité du gouvernement minoritaire d’agir judicieusement dans son approche vis-à-vis de nos mandats d’empêcher la production de pétrole et de gaz non classiques dans notre province et de ralentir le changement climatique par l’instauration d’une économie verte.»

    Dans son discours, M. Higgs s’est fortement prononcé en défaveur d’un « vol intergénérationnel », qui reviendrait à voler l’avenir de nos enfants. M. Emberger relève, cependant, que « l’exemple le plus flagrant de cet enjeu n’est pas le lègue d’un fardeau fiscal, mais le laisser-aller face au changement climatique, l’utilisation de ressources non renouvelables et d’autres problèmes liés à la dégradation de l’environnement qui priveraient nos enfants et nos petits-enfants de la moindre chance de bénéficier d’une vie de qualité ». À cet égard, il a cité de nombreuses poursuites judiciaires intentées dans le monde entier concernant le changement climatique par, et pour, des enfants en vue de défendre le droit des prochaines générations de jouir d’une vie décente.

    Dans son discours, M. Higgs reconnaît que le changement climatique est un problème causé par les humains, et que nous devons travailler à y remédier, notamment en passant à une économie « verte » viable et susceptible de créer des emplois; des positions que l’AAGSNB soutient depuis longtemps.

    Il réclame, en outre, la désignation d’« un fonctionnaire de l’Assemblée législative responsable de la science et du changement climatique, qui serait également chargé de rétablir l’indépendance du système de santé public récemment démantelé ». M. Emberger, qui partage ces positions, a déclaré que « l’examen des données scientifiques et des connaissances sur la santé public liées au climat et au gaz de schiste va pleinement dans le sens de nos positions concernant ces enjeux ».

    Finalement, M. Emberger a affirmé que les membres de son organisation étaient heureux de constater l’attention accordée à notre relation avec les peuples autochtones, ainsi que la mise en place de la Commission de vérité et de réconciliation, mais a toutefois relevé que « comme toujours, il est difficile de savoir dans quelle mesure le gouvernement est sérieux, ou jusqu’où il est prêt à aller ».  

    Le ton conciliant du discours ainsi que la volonté affirmée de travailler avec les législateurs de tous les partis politiques pourraient constituer un bon moyen de gouverner, mais seulement si l’on permet la liberté des votes.

    En conclusion, M. Emberger a estimé que le ton du discours et les valeurs présentées étaient positifs, mais que les mesures qui en découleraient devaient être à la hauteur des balises établies; à cet égard, il a rappelé que « nous avons poursuivi en justice le gouvernement Alward sortant pour n’avoir pas tenu compte des données scientifiques, ni de la santé et de l’avenir de nos enfants, et que nous pouvons également poursuivre un autre gouvernement, y compris celui de M. Higgs. Nous espérons sincèrement que ce ne sera nécessaire ».

    Personnes-ressource
    Jim Emberger, porte-parole : cellulaire : 506 440-4255; courriel :shaleinfo.nb@gmail.com
    Denise Melanson, porte-parole (francophone) : cellulaire : 506-523-9467 ; courriel : inrexton2013@yahoo.ca


  • Jim Emberger Commentary


    The Opposition Energy Critic says that the discontinuation of the Energy Institute will stop the examination of the science surrounding shale gas. Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault says that New Brunswick’s shale commission could approve development. Neither of these two political smokescreens reflects the actual rigorous scientific examinations of shale gas occurring elsewhere.

    Lengthy and exhaustive reviews have recently been completed in four jurisdictions. All those jurisdictions then enacted bans or moratoria.

    New Brunswickers know that our neighbours, Quebec and Nova Scotia, passed lasting moratoria following their reviews. The state of Maryland just enacted an additional two-and-a-half-year moratorium based on a review conducted by their highly regarded university system’s public health school.

    But the most thorough review was undertaken by the state of New York. It had already declared a moratorium based on a previous public health review. Last week, after completing a ‘seven-year’ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), they essentially banned shale development. All these jurisdictions reached similar conclusions, but New York’s extraordinary effort deserves quoting.

    The EIS concluded that the scientific evidence showed:

    “Significant uncertainty remains regarding the level of risk to public health and the environment that would result from permitting high-volume hydraulic fracturing.”

    “In fact, the uncertainty regarding the potential significant adverse environmental and public health impacts has been growing over time.”

    “Significant uncertainty remains regarding the degree of effectiveness of proposed mitigation measures.”

    In other words, there are many serious risks needing much more study, the number and severity of the risks is continually increasing, and the effectiveness of mitigation and control efforts are questionable.

    Most of the hundreds of scientific papers supporting these conclusions about risk can be found in two places and are periodically updated:

    A Compendium by the Concerned Health Professionals of NY. ( con  cernedhealthny.org  ).

    Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy. ( pse  healthyenergy.org  ).

    Since these reviews, alarming studies covering health effects, wastewater disposal, water well contamination, air pollution, radon, and earthquakes continue to appear weekly.

    One such comes from medical research about ‘endocrine disruptors.’ These are chemicals that in miniscule quantities act on the body’s hormone system, causing developmental, immune system and reproductive diseases. Children and pregnant women are particularly at risk.

    A new review of the science about them concluded,“Many of the air and water pollutants found near (Unconventional Oil and Gas) operation sites are recognized as being developmental and reproductive toxicants, and therefore there is a compelling need to increase our knowledge of the potential health consequences for adults, infants, and children from these chemicals.” ( www.degruyter.com  ).

    Another study found that several endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly used in gas production caused disease at a tiny fraction of the levels considered ‘safe’ by current standards. It also found that levels of these chemicals in the“air near oil and gas development can be orders of magnitude higher than exposures for which we found health effects.”( pubs.acs.  org  ) As to the questionable effectiveness of mitigation efforts, the Council of Canadian Academies already noted that neither the government nor industry adequately monitor shale development. Therefore, without scientific data, no jurisdiction can claim its ‘world-class’ regulations are based on science. Industry-defined ‘best practices’ are not scientific guarantees of safety or effectiveness.

    The clear trends in the scientific review of shale gas are the increased identification of risks, and the resulting increase in bans and moratoriums. The few studies that our Energy Institute could complete in our one-year moratorium would have little effect on trends based on hundreds of studies. The Institute’s reputable scientists deserve thanks for doing some worthwhile baseline studies, but existing departments such as Environment and Health can direct such research.

    The Institute had a problem beyond its ethically questionable founding by the former PC government and the now discredited Dr. LaPierre. If it had been intended to be an ‘Energy’institute, its mandate would have been to examine all energy options and help choose the best one, rather than to simply make shale gas palatable to the citizenry.

    Our current Commission,staffed by volunteers,with only a travel budget and a less-than- one-year window,will work in the shadows of jurisdictions who conducted multi-year reviews with paid researchers,multi-million dollar budgets, and extensive human resources.

    It is almost inconceivable that our Commission could reach a different conclusion. To contradict the now well-established scientific evidence of unacceptable risk, it would require truly extraordinarily difficult public explanations and levels of proof.

    JIM EMBERGER

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

    Please see a correction and apology on page A2.


    Correction and apology

    A June 12 letter to the editor questioned the truthfulness and motivations of Jim Emberger, spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, including an assertion that his is a paid position.In fact,Mr.Emberger is a volunteer. Further,we have no information that Mr. Emberger has been untruthful.

    We regret these statements were published unchecked, and apologize to Mr. Emberger.

    In addition, the original opinion piece to which the letter was responding was not published by the Times and Transcript. It should have been. That opinion piece appears today on page A9.

  • JIM EMBERGER COMMENTARY

    July 24, 2018  Telegraph Journal, Daily Gleaner, Times Transcript

    It was gratifying to see a recent article acknowledging that climate change has already changed our weather, and that weather-related problems will become ever more frequent and severe (“Not... our grandparents’ weather, July 14, A2).

    In the piece, a senior climatologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, David Phillips, laid out in no-nonsense terms that New Brunswickers will be challenged to adapt to our increasingly confused climate.

    Warnings and good advice about adapting are a necessary discussion, but the real conversation we need to be having on climate change is about preventing the growing threats from a changed climate.

    It’s not as if there is some mysterious force wrecking the climate, with nothing we can do besides learning to live with it. Rather, it is undeniable that the climate-change culprit is our burning of fossil fuels, and the way to slow climate damage is to simply burn fewer of them.

    This elementary and obvious policy solution, however, seems impossible for some to publicly acknowledge. Perhaps, that’s because once you acknowledge a fact, then you must act on that knowledge even if it is uncomfortable.

    Mr. Phillips could have painted an even darker picture. Numerous studies show the climate is changing faster than originally thought and will result in an even hotter world. This past month’s global heat wave shattered temperature records worldwide, often by double digits. Fifty-four people died in Quebec as a result of the heat wave.

    It’s a foreshadowing that should focus our minds, much like the record-breaking floods in New Brunswick. Adaptation to such catastrophes will certainly be necessary, but there are limits to adaptation, especially if conditions continually get worse.

    How many times can you raise the height of a dike, seawall or house on stilts? For trees destroyed by tropical storms, ice storms, warmer temperatures and an ever-growing list of invasive species, it’s too late to adapt.

    And when it’s too hot to work (or even exist) outdoors, adaptation has reached its end, as it is already has in some places. The only long-term solution is to keep conditions from getting worse, and that means reducing our use of fossil fuels.

    Recently, I asked Progressive Conservative leader Blaine Higgs how his plans to lift the moratorium on fracking and promote a shale gas industry fit into plans to combat climate change. It was actually a trick question, because there is only one answer: To slow climate change we cannot exploit any new fossil fuels, and we must leave much of what we have already discovered in the ground.

    This reality now drives global economic trends, which cast doubt on the wisdom of any new fossil fuel investments.

    New studies predict that the plunging cost of renewable energy, advances in battery storage, electric vehicles and energy-efficiency measures will reduce the demand for fossil fuels so significantly that $1 trillion dollars of fossil fuel infrastructure will become worthless by 2035.

    If governments act to reduce emissions as well, the losses grow to $4 trillion dollars and the timetable is shortened by years.

    The U.S. and Canada would be the biggest losers in this scenario because they produce the most expensive fossil fuels – fracked oil and gas, and oil sands. New Brunswick is fortunate to not have much existing unconventional fossil fuel infrastructure at risk.

    But the Atlantica Centre for Energy and Encana claim that now is the time to build a shale gas infrastructure, because current supplies from Nova Scotia will soon run out, leaving 8,600 buildings without gas.

    The obvious rebuttal to this argument is to simply buy gas from elsewhere. But an even better answer is that most gas customers can switch to cleaner sources of energy, which they will eventually have to do anyway. The government and NB Power could even assist in their transition, as part of climate, innovation and energy-efficiency programs.

    In any case, New Brunswick has 319,773 private dwellings and 30,164 businesses. Simple math shows that 8,600 gas-using buildings make up only two per cent of the total. This hardly makes a case for undertaking the huge financial, health and environmental risks of building a new shale gas industry.

    Ireland and Scotland also have fracking moratoriums. Ireland just decided to disinvest all government funds from fossil fuel projects, and Scotland is debating whether to even accept fracked gas from other countries.

    Canada, however, remains among the world’s top three contributors to climate change on a per person basis, due to the high greenhouse gas emissions of our unconventional fossil fuel industries.

    Surely, our New Brunswick moratorium makes the moral statement that “we” at least won’t make things worse for our children, the world and ourselves.

    Keeping the moratorium not only protects us from fracking’s many threats to our health and the environment. It also helps slow climate change, and keeps us from making an unnecessary and seriously self-destructive fiscal decision.

    Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NoShaleGasNB.ca).
  • 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
  • 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)
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