• “Courts ‘Recognizing the Obvious on Climate”

    Telegraph Journal, Daily Gleaner, Times Transcript - March 11, 2019

    The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance was an intervener in the recent Saskatchewan Court of Appeals reference case on the federal carbon pricing “backstop.”

    Those opposing carbon pricing portrayed the case as strictly a constitutional matter of jurisdiction, and chose not to discuss the issue of climate change. However, one of the first questions the Chief Justice asked Saskatchewan’s lawyer was: “If (climate change) literally imperils the future of the planet, should it be taken into account?” 

    There was little doubt why the Justice asked this question. The Court had received overwhelming evidence about climate change and its calamitous effects. 

    Our group submitted judicial decisions from courts around the world, based on the principle that increased greenhouse gases emissions from anywhere, no matter how small the amount, add to the global totals that threaten everyone. 

    Clearly the courts are now recognizing the obvious about climate change and the elemental part fossil fuels play in it. 

    Saskatchewan and its co-plaintiffs, realizing that being “deniers” is no longer politically acceptable, proclaim concern about climate change. But their claims ring hollow, as all these provinces have recently elected Progressive Conservative governments whose climate policies belie their words.

    Sadly, New Brunswick is a case in point. Its signature energy policies of a new shale gas industry and a resurrection of the Energy East bitumen pipeline contradict concern about climate change, despite official rhetoric to the contrary.

    The first necessity to slow climate change is to stop creating additional greenhouse-gas emissions from new fossil fuel sources. This is the very thing that carbon pricing is designed to deter.

    How could New Brunswick meet any greenhouse gas limits while starting a shale gas industry that would create huge volumes of emissions from leaking methane and from burning large quantities of diesel fuel and gasoline?

    Reviving Energy East is a fantasy few experts consider viable, not least because its approval would have to consider the climate effects of its upstream and downstream emissions. It didn’t face that requirement last time around, but would now.

    By misreading climate change considerations, and fossil fuel market forces, our government’s policies both suffered setbacks.

    After promising that Corridor Inc. had millions of dollars to immediately invest in local shale gas, the premier appeared to be blindsided when Corridor said it wouldn’t be drilling new wells until 2021, and only if it found a financial partner.

    This should not have been a surprise. The gas market is flooded. Shale gas has never been profitable for lenders and investors, who are now demanding long-delayed paybacks. The easy money spigot is closing, making it tougher to get financial backing.

    A recent Supreme Court decision, finding environmental clean-up obligations have precedence over repaying loans, has made banks warier about fossil fuel investments.

    Mr. Higgs has countered with the position that local shale gas could replace gas from Nova Scotia’s about-to-close Sable Island facility. However, gas suppliers, noting that a new local shale gas solution was years away, announced they would supply the Maritimes with western gas via the pipeline that was the centrepiece of Energy East. 

    With Energy East dead, and with no apparent market justification for local shale gas, Mr. Higgs now gives us a truly convoluted policy rationalization for both.

    He would have us believe a local shale gas industry (years in the making) would convince gas pipeline companies and western producers to give up their Maritime business, and once again go through the near-impossible task of Energy East approval.

    Besides needing dozens of things to go exactly right, the many years required would bring this plan to fruition at the very time when fossil fuels must be reduced by nearly half, and when carbon pricing would be at a maximum. It strains credulity.

    Readers should note these setbacks to the premier’s plans are not due to political opposition, or environmental activism, but rather to business decisions and market forces in the industry. 

    Climate change, by necessity, will be a major market force in reducing fossil fuels, while cheap renewable energy is another. 

    Energy planners and pundits should begin recognizing the obvious, as Alberta just did in contracting three new solar farms to provide 55 per cent of the government’s electricity, at nearly half the cost of natural gas.

    The U.S. Permian Basin, the heart of shale oil, produces so much accompanying gas they pay to get rid of it. Yet, plans for the industry’s electricity needs include a solar farm and the world’s largest battery.

    Despite many similar examples, Mr. Higgs maintains renewable energy is still too expensive, and continues dealing in the false hopes of fossil fuel riches. Both ideas are from a bygone era.

    The climate threat and market forces clearly indicate there is no future in a local shale gas industry. We, too, need to recognize the obvious.

    Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, an organization intervened in the recent court challenge over carbon pricing in Saskatchewan.

  • From the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance

    The struggle to keep unconventional gas and oil development (UNGOD) out of New Brunswick is a story filled with many actors, heroes and organizations, each playing important and vital roles.

    However, for many of us involved in that struggle, the seeds for our victory were largely sown by a single person – Stephanie Merrill, the Water Specialist at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.  What follows is our special tribute to Stephanie, who is now heading out to share her expertise with the Global Water Futures program at the University of Saskatchewan.

    http://www.noshalegasnb.ca/tribute-to-stephanie-merrill/

  • 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


       The Opposition Energy critic says that the discontinuation of the Energy Institute will stop the examination of the science surrounding shale gas. Energy 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”

       • and“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 at http://bit.
    ly/1t8E2bo

       • Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy at http://bit.
    ly/1QbOtdD

       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 minuscule 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 ( http://bit.ly/1yqfJvj
    ) 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.”

       Another study ( http://bit.ly/1CMad
    kk ) 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.”

       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, multimillion-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 is a spokesman for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.



  • Moncton, NB (17 Sept 2014)

    New Brunswickers who are looking for the facts about shale gas are not getting them from the current political debate. They are often being deliberately misled or else are confused by politicians who don’t understand the issues, themselves. And they are definitely missing out on critical information.

    First, the economics.

    The numbers cited by our government appear to be picked from thin air, are baseless and are designed just for the election. Economists don’t see how they can work and the government will supply no supporting data.

    We have all heard David Alward claim that, by drilling a modest 50 wells per year, the province will earn $200 million in annual royalties. He does not say how he arrived at this figure. His math even baffles our province’s top economists.

    In British Columbia, they drilled thousands of wells to earn $200 million in royalties.

    New Brunswick currently has about 50 producing gas and oil wells. The total royalties average roughly $1 million per year. One million is an awfully long way from $200 million. We earn more than a million from our gravel and sand industry.

    New Brunswick’s university economists have analyzed the current royalty scheme. They say these are the lowest royalty rates in North America and that it is highly doubtful that New Brunswickers will gain any significant profits. They say it is an inefficient, overexploitation of our resource. The government has dropped their earlier plan to share royalties with those municipalities and landowners who would be bearing the risk of shale gas.

    The PC party must also further justify their estimates on job creation per well.

    In four years, the only data they quote to support their job claims comes from the partially government-funded and widely disputed Deloitte report, a small and questionable survey that predicted a best-case scenario of 21 jobs per well.

    However, we have examined a number of detailed fiscal policy reports based on actual figures from places where shale gas is being produced. These show an average of 4 jobs per well, while being highly critical of predictive reports like the one from Deloitte.

    In New Brunswick, with our roughly 50 producing wells, we have less than a dozen ongoing full-time jobs.

    Our question is this: Why should we base our decision on estimates from a questionable survey, when there are real life examples and hard facts to draw upon?

    Shale gas is not the only way to bring New Brunswickers home and create jobs.

    Multiple reports actually show that the oil and gas sector produces far fewer jobs than any other energy-related industry. Retrofitting infrastructure for energy efficiency, alternative energy development and mass transit each create up to 8 times the number of jobs created by fossil fuels. These figures are based on real-life experience, not hopes.

    A clean economy requires the same skills that our people out west already have, and it fosters industries that would create career opportunities, retain college graduates, employ both genders, and save the existing jobs in our tourism and agriculture sectors that are now being threatened by shale gas.

    We also ask this: What is the long-term economic viability of this industry?

    The industry is a typical boom-bust venture that leaves communities worse off than they were. Its long-term viability is unproven.

    Recent figures from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), investment firms and financial analysts show that the industry is $100 billion dollars in debt. And 75% of its firms are rated as below investment grade (junk status). As a whole, the industry does not make any money from the sale of gas. It survives on borrowing, and selling assets.

    It also seems some parties do not understand our Oil and Gas Act.

    Hydrofracking is hydrofracking no matter whether you use propane or water, and it is the only way to get shale gas. The idea that one can keep exploring while not allowing hydrofracking is a contradiction in terms.

    And to be clear, if an exploration company lives up to its requirements to invest a certain amount of money, it may automatically convert to production when it is ready. Thus, to put a moratorium on shale gas, you can not allow exploration to continue. You must stop both or you cannot stop either.

    And as various parties talk about the necessity of having world class regulations, they ignore the recent report from the Council of Canadian Academies, which noted that there is so little research or monitoring of shale gas that no regulations anywhere can be said to be based on science. Regulations willnot protect us.

    But, perhaps the largest piece of missing information and discussion concerns the effects of this industry on climate change. The day before our provincial elections there will be massive demonstrations around the world focused on climate change.

    The world’s scientists, militaries, insurers, financial institutions, food and water specialists, and experts in many other fields tell us that climate change is the number one problem facing the world. It costs us billions of dollars and thousands of lives per year already, and those numbers will rise.

    All public policies – local, regional, national and international - must now consider the effects of policy on climate change and the problems that will come from it. Investments in those industries are likely to be lost as the world reduces fossil fuel usage. Yet, remarkably, only one party mentions this ultimate threat and issue in their party platform.

    Our concerns about unconventional oil and gas are not just the immediate threat to our health and environment caused by extraction methods, but also that we will be adding a new source of greenhouse gases to the fossil fuel mix that threatens us and future generations.

    For the past 4 years, volunteers within the Anti-Shale Gas Alliance of New Brunswick have worked hard to get existing science to the people of New Brunswick in an understandable way. We have succeeded in bringing to light the costs and impacts of this industry and making shale gas a hot campaign issue in this election. All of our concerns have been validated by Canadian scientists, and yet, we see the same overinflated numbers and misleading information on economics and jobs being used to gather votes and sell this industry to the public. It is time to eliminate the spin and get honest about this issue.

    The lawsuit that we have filed awaits whichever party wins the election. We are asking that a high standard be used to judge the scientific and health claims of the safety of this industry – “beyond a reasonable doubt” - the same standard for deciding guilt or innocence in court. High stakes demand a high standard.

    So politicians take note. Deciding how to respond to this lawsuit will be one of your first tasks. Please take this seriously for all our sakes and start talking honestly about it now.

    About NBASGA

    The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance represents the interests of New Brunswickers opposed to unconventional gas and oil exploration and development, while promoting a future in clean energy alternatives.

    Website: www.noshalegasnb.ca

    Email: shaleinfo.nb@gmail.com

    Contact Information

    Jim Emberger (English)

    Tel: 506 440-4255       Email: jimemberger@yahoo.com

    Denise Melanson (French)

    Tel: 506-523-9467       Email: inrexton2013@yahoo.ca

  • NBASGA supports Dr. Eilish Cleary and calls for her reinstatement
    Public Health needs autonomy and New Brunswicker’s need a voice they can trust

    MONCTON, NB (3 December 2013) - The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance is greatly disturbed with recent news reports speculating that Dr. Eilish Cleary’s leave of absence may be related to her work.

    Yesterday, social media erupted with support and indignation when the story became public, and people immediately rushed to her defense, calling for her reinstatement.

    Dr. Cleary has won tremendous respect of the people of New Brunswick, who hold her in high standing for her honesty, forthrightness and integrity. And rightfully so.

    She has clearly proven herself as a dedicated doctor fulfilling the role of a true health officer, regardless of political influences.

    Dr. Cleary’s award-winning 2012 report on the health impacts of shale gas development was balanced and unbiased, her conclusions based on careful research and science. As a result of this, and her subsequent actions, she is held in high esteem among the citizenry, who appreciate her outspokenness in contrast to the undemocratic actions of the previous government, which attempted to hold back the report’s release.

    The enthusiastic response from her colleagues, the requests to have her speak on the subject - nationally and internationally - are evidence of the esteem she garnered in her field.

    She was awarded the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for her services to the people of Canada and earlier this summer honoured with the Dr. Donald Morgan Service Award from the New Brunswick Medical Society. The award recognizes and celebrates the contribution made in education, research, health promotion or humanitarian service.

    The esteem with which she is recognized by her colleagues is articulated in this video with Dr. Cristin Muecke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiU29UvWds4

    And just weeks before her forced leave of absence, she was further recognized with a Paul Harris Fellowship by the Rotary Clubs of Fredericton for her positive impact.

    Dr. Cleary’s selfless and courageous travel to Africa during the Ebola crisis cast a warm light on all of New Brunswick; we were touched by her compassion and proud that ‘our’ CMHO was on the front lines helping others.

    Dr. Cleary’s demonstrated professionalism has elevated the entire office of the CHMO, and the hard work that is accomplished under her leadership has earned wide-spread respect. When public health is impacted, this is a department that needs autonomy and a strong voice that people trust.

    We were relieved that public health impacts were mentioned in the premier’s five conditions for lifting the moratorium and that she provided input during the recent interviews conducted by the Hydraulic Fracturing Commission.

    That people now fear her forced leave of absence is a pre-emptive strike - one that serves multiple interests - is clear evidence of the deep and growing distrust citizens have in the political processes of successive governments that have favoured industry needs above those of the populace. When public health and environmental protection are given precedence, it impacts industry’s bottom line.

    This rush of support, perhaps, is the subtext of the story: The way to win the hearts and loyalty of the people of New Brunswick is with consistently demonstrated acts of courage, openness, honesty, integrity and high ethical and moral standards.

    It would seem evident that those in government can take a lesson from this and we hold out hope this government will rise to that challenge.

    But we ultimately call for this issue to be quickly concluded in-house without further delay, and Dr. Cleary be placed back in her office, again serving her patients – the people of New Brunswick.

    Respectfully,

    The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance Website: www.noshalegasnb.ca
    Email: shaleinfo.nb@gmail.com

    About NBASGA

    The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance represents the interests of New Brunswickers opposed to unconventional gas and oil exploration and development, while promoting a future in clean energy alternatives.
  • Here's a link to the video of Dr. John Cherry’s informative ‘'Shale Gas Experiment” presentation in Fredericton, November 17, 2015. It was posted by the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.
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