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New Brunswick may be facing an uncertain political future, but there is one topic that all New Brunswick MLAs, new and old, can agree on: the need to protect nature and the natural beauty of our province.

Right now, 95 per cent of New Brunswick’s land and water is unprotected, leaving vital ecosystems vulnerable to development, climate change and pollution.

We can change this, and right now is the time to do it.

Canada has made an international commitment to protect 17 per cent of its landscape by 2020. New Brunswick needs to do its fair share to help the country hit this target. That’s why we need you — or, rather, why your MLA needs to hear from you.

The Conservation Council is joining forces with Nature Canada, the Nature Trust of New Brunswick, Nature NB, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society NB Chapter in calling on our members to write their MLA and provincial political party leaders to speak up for nature protection in N.B.

We’ve made it easy for you to do your part.

Simply fill out the form below to send our pre-written letter (which you can edit freely) to your MLA and each of the party leaders. Not sure who your MLA is? No problem — just fill in the postal code field below, we’ll take care of the rest.

Regardless of which party forms the government, let’s make sure every Member of the Legislative Assembly knows that protecting nature in New Brunswick is something we can all agree on. Send your letter today!

Click here to send your letter today!

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Speakers include:
Margaret Stewart, Director of Center for Earth Jurisprudence
Grant Wilson, Directing Attorney at Earth Law Center
Cormac Cullinan, Directing Attorney with Cullinan & Associates in South Africa, CEO of EnAct International
Shannon Biggs, Co-Founder of Movement Rights
Catherine Iorns Magallanes, Professor University of Wellington, National Board Member of Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand
Deon Ben, Grand Canyon Trust and Navajo Nation
Kirsten Anker, Faculty of Law at McGill University
Hugo Echeverria, Environmental Attorney in Ecuador
Craig Kauffman, University of Oregon, Associate Professor of Political Science
Rachelle Adam, Animal Rights and Environmental Attorney and Activist in Israel, Lecturer and Faculty of Law at Hebrew University
Linda Sheehan, Senior Counsel Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Reed Loder, Professor at Vermont Law School
Kevin Schneider, Executive Director of the Nonhuman Rights Project
Thomas Linzey, Executive Director of Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)

For the full agenda, click here.

Join us for our annual local food celebration at the Conservation Council Southeast Chapter’s 100-Mile Dinner Fundraiser.

This popular event takes place on Sunday, Oct. 14 from 5-8 p.m. at Dolma Food, 251 St. George St. (second floor) in Moncton.

Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. You can buy tickets online here, at the Dolma Food stores in Moncton and Dieppe, or by contacting Anita at ccnbsoutheast@gmail.com or 506-859-8104. The 100-Mile Dinner gathers friends, neighbours and community members to celebrate with a locally-sourced tapas buffet (including vegetarian options), guest speakers, a live auction, draw prizes, and presentation of the third annual Beth McLaughlin Environmental Journalism Award. If you have items you’d like to donate to the auction, please contact Anita at ccnbsoutheast@gmail.com or Dave at 506-859-8104. Seating is limited so get your tickets today!
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.
Les groupes environnementaux du Nouveau-Brunswick aimeraient améliorer la compréhension de la population des enjeux environnementaux et des positions des partis politiques concernant ces enjeux avant les prochaines élections.  Nous avons recueilli 26 questions des groupes environnementaux de la province et nous avons demandé ces questions aux partis politiques avec une date limite du 31 aout.  Les réponses sont les suivantes :
  • Les Libéraux : N'ont pas répondu aux questions du sondage, mais ont plutôt envoyé une réponse écrite de deux pages qui répondait à certaines des questions du sondage.
  • Les Progressistes-conservateurs : N’ont pas répondu aux questions du sondage mais ont envoyé une courte lettre.
  • Les Verts : Ont répondu à toutes les questions du sondage.
  • Le NPD : N’ont pas encore répondu au sondage.
  • L’Alliance des gens : N’ont pas encore répondu au sondage.
Pour une compilation de toutes les réponses, cliquez ici.

Veuillez noter : Cette page sera mise-à-jour si nous recevons d’autres réponses.

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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)
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes the release of the updated Forest Strategy from the New Brunswick Department of Energy and Resource Development. While there are still gaps in this plan, we are looking forward to concrete action on protected areas. CPAWS NB is encouraged that the strategy will re-instate conservation policies (over five years) for some old forests and wildlife habitats that lost those protections in 2014. The strategy recognizes the importance of the long-term conservation of biodiversity, and the need to involve and respect the knowledge and rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Roberta Clowater, Executive Director of CPAWS’s New Brunswick Chapter, says, “This Forest Strategy is a positive indicator of movement in the right direction for conservation. We are pleased that government has listened to those ecologists, wildlife groups, Indigenous Peoples and environmental organizations who made the case for increased conservation. We are cautiously optimistic that this shows stronger intention for habitat conservation, and protecting water quality and the forests’ role in flood prevention. However, we should note that it slowly returns habitat conservation to 2012 levels and is not an advance in on-the-ground conservation by itself. CPAWS encourages the government to go even further with their plans regarding climate change and forests, making sure that the resilience of the forests is paramount in all forest management decisions.”

Governments have been eroding protection of forest habitats. In 2012, the provincial government reduced the level of conservation forest from 31% of Crown forests to 28%. In 2014, against the advice of wildlife ecologists, that number was reduced even further to 23%. As a result, many of the provinces old growth forests have been lost to five years of forest cutting and road-building. Wildlife that need old forests, such as flying squirrels, American marten and pileated woodpeckers, have been put at risk.“

To protect the nature in our forests, more of the so-called “conservation forest” needs to be in protected areas. This Forest Strategy does not tell us what level of protection the habitats will be given. A modern Forest Strategy needs to have a serious insurance policy of significant areas where nature is permanently protected from industrial development,” says Roberta Clowater. “This would also help New Brunswick address the commitment Canada has made to protect 17% of its landscape by 2020.”

To date New Brunswick has protected only 4.6% of the province and needs to add more.

The Forest Strategy includes plans to increase transparency about the state of New Brunswick’s forests. While this is a positive move, it means the public will find out after the fact about the impacts of forest harvesting on habitats, water or other values. CPAWS New Brunswick believes the Strategy needs to actively promote cooperation among governments, Indigenous Peoples, industry, NGOs, researchers and the tourism sector. Together, with public input, we can develop forest management plans that manage risks, protect a wide range of forest values, and have consistent ways for the public to be involved.
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For interviews, contact: Roberta Clowater, rclowater@cpaws.org ; phone: 506-452-9902

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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).
July 17, 2018, Fredericton – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) released its annual Parks Report today, What’s Next: Parks and Protected Areas to 2020 and Beyond. The report recommends how governments in Canada – federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous – can work together to almost double our current protected areas to achieve our international commitment to protect at least 17% of our landscape by 2020, and to plan for the longer-term work needed to reverse the catastrophic and ongoing decline in nature. Canada has the biggest opportunity in a generation to protect nature – and this report provides a roadmap for action.

All jurisdictions in Canada have committed to work together to achieve the 2020 protected area target. Added to the $1.3 billion investment in conservation in the 2018 federal budget, we have an unprecedented opportunity for Canada to safeguard nature in the spirit of reconciliation between Indigenous governments and Crown governments, and between all peoples in Canada and nature.“In New Brunswick, our government does not have a target or action plan to add new protected areas, and our province is noticeably behind compared to all other parts of the country,” says Roberta Clowater, CPAWS New Brunswick Executive Director.

“With political will and a bold action plan, New Brunswick can step up and help Canada reach our goals. Immediate opportunities are to establish the Restigouche Wilderness Waterway, and protect our remaining old forest habitat, provincially significant wetlands, coastal mudflats, and natural areas in our drinking water watersheds.”

Diverse voices across the country are now calling for action on protected areas, and momentum is growing. With 2020 right around the corner, people are asking, “can Canada do this?” “Can our country almost double the protection of our lands and freshwaters in 2 years?” The answer is YES. In the report, CPAWS identifies places in each jurisdiction where a considerable amount of collaborative work has already been done on proposed protected areas.  With the 2020 target fast approaching, CPAWS makes the following recommendations -- that federal, provincial, and territorial governments:
  1. Demonstrate their commitment to almost double Canada’s protected areas by publicly announcing the areas they intend to protect by 2020 to contribute to meeting the target;
  2. Develop a western science and Indigenous knowledge-based plan by 2020 for completing an effective network of interconnected protected areas that will act as a foundation for conserving nature in the face of climate change;
  3. Make a clear commitment to adhere to recognized standards for the protection of nature, including those developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas;
  4. Ensure conservation funding from federal Budget 2018 is allocated primarily to support the creation of new protected areas by federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments and other partners; and
  5. Support Indigenous governments’ work to create Indigenous protected areas.
The report includes recommendations for specific actions in New Brunswick, including developing relationships and partnering with indigenous communities for the Restigouche Wilderness Waterway, and engaging with local communities to support protection in Restigouche and in ecologically important forests, beaches and rivers on Crown land.CPAWS is ready to work with federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments on protecting our most iconic landscapes, the wildlife that call them home, and the habitat that supports us all.

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Read the full Report; read the Executive Summary
For interviews, contact: Roberta Clowater, rclowater@cpaws.org ; phone: 506-452-9902
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NBASGA now has its own Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NoShaleGasNB/.  We’ll be using it several times a week to share reputable information/news/research/videos on the oil and gas industry (particularly in Canada) and its impact on communities and climate change.

Here’s what you can do:
  1. ‘Like’ the page and ‘Follow’ to ensure you receive the latest posts  (buttons are under the banner)
  2. Invite your friends to join it (there’s a ‘Community Box’ for this in the sidebar)
  3. Share our address with your email lists and let your own groups know about it. Ask them to do the same as what we’re asking you to do.  We need to do more than preach to our choir, so please share beyond just our normal friends and allies.
  4. Engage with and share the posts on your own Facebook page, and on other pages on which you may participate (if they’re relevant – such as politician pages).
  5. If you’re a Twitter user, tweet about the posts.
  6. Share any links that you come across to Canadian research or news items on fracking or climate change.
  7. Comment-Comment-Comment! Comments show community involvement. In particular, comment strategically as a means to deliver additional information so we can raise the discussion level with added value (we want it to deliver more than just expressed opinions or complaints, etc.)  Consider how you might hold a conversation with another group member in the comments section that organically delivers as much or more information than the actual post/news link and drives the post to the top of newsfeeds.
We have limited time/resources to make an impact before the election and your participation is imperative.   This is our best chance of spreading the word. Your efforts to make this successful will be much appreciated.
Le RENB est très excité de partager ce que nous espérons accomplir cette année ! Voici un bref aperçu de notre plan pour appuyer des groupes environnementaux au cour de l’année à venir. Jetez-y un coup d'oeil !

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The Conservation Council of New Brunswick is pleased to announce nominations are open for our 3rd annual Beth McLaughlin Environmental Journalism Award,  presented annually in recognition of in-depth and thoughtful coverage of environmental issues in New Brunswick.

By recognizing the best environmental reporting, this award seeks to inspire journalists in all media and showcase reporting that best addresses important environmental issues in New Brunswick. We invite journalists from traditional news media, independents, and non-profits, citizen journalists and students to submit their finest work.

Submission deadline: All entries must be received by July 31st, 2018. Submit entries to Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Southeast Chapter Environmental Journalism Award Committee at ccnbsoutheast@gmail.com

Full details:  http://www.conservationcouncil.ca/en/call-for-nominations-2018-beth-mclaughlin-environmental-journalism-award/
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.
Fim Screenings
The Conservation Council is hosting a pair of film screenings with award-winning independent filmmaker Neal Livingston on June 12 and June 13, including the 40th anniversary screening of Budworks, a film about the controversial, decades-long budworm spraying program in New Brunswick that was featured in Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring.

Watch Budworks (1978 – 35 minutes) with filmmaker Neal Livingston at Conserver House (180 St. John St., Fredericton) on Tuesday, June 12 at 7 p.m.

The next night (Wednesday, June 13), Livingston will screen his latest film, 100 Short Stories (2016 – 68:30 minutes), an inspiring film about the struggle against gas fracking and renewable energy in Cape Breton, at Conserver House at 7 p.m.

Admission to each film is by donation. Livingston will be on hand for discussion following each film.

Budworks screengrab

Budworks takes an in-depth look at the politics and environmental decision-making surrounding New Brunswick’s controversial aerial insecticide spraying program which began in the 1950s and ran for decades, and how spraying was stopped in Cape Breton with the lead activist being a young activist Elizabeth May.  An important part of New Brunswick’s history, the film explores the role of government and community activists, and examines the economic and health impacts of aerial insecticide spraying. It was featured in “What’s Happening?”— a weekly series of new films at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 1978.

100 Short Stories
 is a first-person account of the years-long struggle to develop Black River Wind’s renewable energy project while the community of Inverness County worked to stop oil and gas drilling and fracking on Cape Breton Island. With a focus on eco-activism and contemporary life in Atlantic Canada, the film explores energy policy, governance and regional culture in Nova Scotia. Premiering in Halifax in 2016, the film has received wide recognition, including the 2017 Energy Award at Cinema Verde in Gainesville, Florida, and presentations at the Planet in Focus Festival 2016 in Toronto, and the Bozcaada International Festival of Ecological Documentary in Turkey 2017.

Neal Livingston has been making films for more than 40 years. He lives in the Mabou Inverness area on Cape Breton Island, where he also makes art, runs a renewable energy business, is an active woodlot owner and runs a commercial maple syrup farm.

Film screenings CCNB 1

Ecotour 2 1

Have you wondered what you can do to lessen your home’s carbon footprint? Would you like to learn more about the options available to you and the practical steps you can take to make a real difference? Here is your chance to see what homeowners in your community are doing to live sustainably.

Get inspired and find out what innovative homeowners are doing in your neighborhood by signing up to participate in our Passport to a Low Carbon Future EcoHome Tour scheduled for June 9 in southwestern New Brunswick. 

Organized by dedicated volunteers from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and the Saint John chapter of the Council of Canadians, the tour will shine a spotlight on low-carbon homes and public buildings in Bocabec, Letete, Saint John, Quispamsis and the Kingston Peninsula.  Click here to register.


TIME & LOCATION : ST. ANDREWS : 9:00 AM– 1:00 PM / SAINT JOHN : 12:00 PM– 5:00 PM



Visit an off-grid artist’s cabin in the woods; a home with rammed earth construction, solar and wind power, green roof, and a permaculture garden; a timber frame, passive solar, straw wall, earth berm home with sod roof; a LEED Gold Certified building, an innovative recreational complex, an 18 room inn using solar energy for hot water heating, the First Certified CHBA Net Zero Home in New Brunswick; an off-grid hobby farm; an off-grid boatbuilding workshop and more.

The home owners and business people on the tour will be there to answer your questions about how they went about reducing their carbon footprint and the challenges they encountered along the way.

UPDATE: We will be sending out an e-brochure with descriptions and directions to the EcoHomes to everyone who has registered sometime in the third week of May.

After the tour, we invite you to join us for a chance to meet and greet and share information and light refreshments starting at 5 p.m. at the fabulous Elmhurst Outdoors at 65 Ganong Road on the Kingston Peninsula.

The Canadian Rivers Institute has two upcoming courses in eastern Canada. We offer discounted course fees for students, Indigenous People, and people who work for NGOs. For select courses, we also offer group discounts with the 5th member of every group booking receiving free registration Please email info@canadianriversinstitute.ca to arrange a group booking. 

See below for course details and links to the registration forms.

 

River Management in Addressing Long-Term Maintenance Challenges

This 1-day course will be presented in a class-room setting by Dr. Bill Annable. The overall objective of the course is to provide a high-level overview of river processes and identify conflicts in river management from various planning, watershed, reach and site-specific scales. This course is particularly relevant to senior managers and young professionals in the fields of river science, planning, management, and engineering.  
 
The course fee is $225 (+HST) for professionals and $175 (+HST) for students, NGOs, and Indigenous People. The course fee includes lunch and coffee breaks. The course is currently scheduled for June 1st in Shediac New Brunswick. 

The registration deadline in May 18th. Please use the following link to register: 
https://www.regonline.com/registration/Checkin.aspx?EventID=2325138


Hydrometry/Hydrology & Geomorphology

This 3-day field course will be presented by Dr. Andre's St-Hilaire and Dr. Normand Bergeron. The course will be held at the INRS Field Station in Sacre-Couer, Quebec. The course learning objectives include:
  • A brief introduction to the water cycle and hydrological budget.
  • An introduction to the dynamic equilibrium of rivers.
  • Familiarization with different flow measurement techniques.
  • Construction of flow rating curves.
  • Introduction to meteorological and water temperature measurements.
  • Introduction to sediment sampling in rivers.

The course fee (includes meals and accommodation at the field station) is $600 (+HST) for INRS/CRI Students, $700 (+HST) for students/NGOs'/Indigenous People, and $900 (+HST) for professionals.

The registration deadline is June 19th. Please use the following link to register:
https://www.regonline.com/registration/Checkin.aspx?EventID=2376058
Progressive Conservative Leader wrong on fracking
Telegraph Journal, Times Transcript, Daily Gleaner - May 4, 2018

The Progressive Conservatives’ plan to lift the moratorium on shale gas paints a disappointing portrait of a party unable to exercise even minimum due diligence on this issue.

We filed a lawsuit challenging the Province’s embrace of shale gas in 2014, and unlike the PC’s, we have tracked every scientific study since then, from a handful to over 1,300 today.All can be found in the, “Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking.”

The evidence presented to the Commission on Hydrofracking from even the modest number of studies available in 2014 was strong enough to lead to our moratorium. Constantly accumulating evidence presented to commissions in Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland, New York, Maryland, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, and others, likewise led to moratoriums or bans.

Essentially, the only places hosting a shale gas industry are those where the industry was established before any public examination. In light of this history, any call for lifting a moratorium must be accompanied by new evidence that the problems cited in the moratorium have been resolved.

That the PC’s offer no such evidence suggests that they know none exists, or that they made no effort to check; instead choosing to simply offer an ideological opinion, disregarding the wellbeing of the citizenry.

In summarizing the evidence of 1,300 studies the ‘Compendium’ notes, “Earlier scientific predictions and anecdotal evidence are now bolstered by extensive empirical data, confirming that the public health risks from unconventional gas and oil extraction are real, the range of adverse environmental impacts wide, and the negative economic consequences considerable.”

“Findings to date from scientific, medical, and journalistic investigations combine to demonstrate that fracking poses significant threats to air, water, health, public safety, climate stability, seismic stability, community cohesion, and long-term economic vitality.”

The shale gas industry obviously cannot satisfy any of the conditions for lifting the moratorium. We could now demonstrate to a court that evidence against the industry has grown in every respect.

With horizontal wells now commonly exceeding 2 miles in length, “fluid injections, once typically three to five million gallons per fracked well, can now easily reach 10 to 20 million gallons.”

“Cases of drinking water sources contaminated by drilling and fracking activities, or by associated waste disposal, are now proven.”

Wastewater disposal still lacks a good solution. “Fracking wastewater discharged into rivers and streams through treatment plants created dozens of … disinfection by-products that are particularly toxic and raise concerns regarding human health.”

Recycling wastewater for reuse “can transfer volatile pollutants from water into air… and water treatment emissions can serve as an important point source of air pollutants.”

Wastewater injection causes thousands of earthquakes, which are not limited to the time and place of injection: “Fracking wastewater injection can migrate for years before encountering a geological fault — traveling for miles beyond the disposal well and persisting for a decade or more as injected fluids travel underground. ”

Fracking itself has caused such large earthquakes that critical facilities in BC, such as hydroelectric dams, are protected by “no frack” exclusion zones with a 5-kilometer radius.”

An analysis of health studies could not find any way “that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health.” Pregnant women, infants and children are especially vulnerable.

“The introduction of fracking reduces health among infants born to mothers living within 3 kilometres of a well site during pregnancy,” far beyond the few hundred metres even the toughest regulations require between gas wells and residences.

“Studies of mothers living near oil and gas extraction operations consistently find impairments to infant health, including: elevated risks for low birth weight and preterm birth, neural tube defects and congenital heart defects.”

“Dozens of known endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, at levels to which people can be realistically exposed,” are linked to, “harm to fertility and reproductive success… miscarriage, prostate cancer, birth defects, and decreased semen quality and counts.”

“Higher rates of leukemia [were found] among children and young adults living in areas dense with oil and gas wells,” and “Living near drilling and fracking operations significantly increases asthma attacks.”

The industry’s huge contribution to climate change has been exposed. “Well sites leak far more methane and toxic vapors than previously understood, and they continue to leak long after they are decommissioned.”

Finally, oversupply and low prices led the Wall Street Journal to note that, "energy companies…have spent $280 billion more than they generated from operations on shale investments." Meanwhile, renewable energy is as cheap as gas and grows cheaper, while gas can only get more expensive.

These conditions spark warnings of “large-scale firings, cutbacks in safety measures, and landscapes pock-marked by abandoned wells in need of remediation and long-term monitoring.”Mr. Higgs, please abandon this ill-conceived decision, and suggest something that will actually help all New Brunswickers.

Jim Emberger, Spokesperson
New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance
EOS AGM and Silent Auction 2018
New Brunswick residents are paying private forestry corporations more than ever to apply herbicides on public lands.

Documents obtained by Stop Spraying New Brunswick through the right to information process show that in 2015, the government spent $2.3 million to subsidize herbicide application on public land, with an additional $419,498 spent on spraying private lands. In 2016 the costs were about the same, with $2.29 million spent to spray public land, with a program total of $2.77 million. Last year, the total subsidy increased to $2.86 million. “The increased costs make no sense, given the public demands to end the practice of herbicide spraying,” said Vern Faulkner, the communcations director for Stop Spraying New Brunswick. “This taxpayer subsidy is one of the many reasons more and more people each day call for an end to herbicide spraying”. In 2017, some 15,841 hectares of public land were sprayed with herbicides despite a petition from more than 35,000 residents calling for an end to this practice.
Glyphosate – the main ingredient in the herbicides applied to Crown land – has been scientifically linked to reproductive defects, liver issues, cancers and a wide array of other health concerns. Further, it has been shown to cause long-term damage to aquatic species and insects, including pollinators like bees. Many in the province also believe the spraying program is part of a larger mismanagement of forests that has led to diminished deer populations. Herbicides are applied to Crown lands to eliminate hardwood species that forestry companies do not consider valuable, despite business cases showing that harvest of maple and birch products could take place with benefit to the economy.

“The government is not only ignoring calls to end spraying, it is spending more each year to have a dangerous chemical applied to our forests. It’s a slap in the face to the thousands of citizens who have asked their government to do the right thing,” said Faulkner.

Representatives of SSNB will be on hand at the Moncton Sportsman’s Show at the Moncton Coliseum, running Friday to Sunday.
 © 2018 NBEN / RENB