Commentary by Jim Emberger / Telegraph Journal
11 January 2019

Just before the holidays, Brunswick News interviewed Steve Moran, CEO of gas producer Corridor, Inc. This interview, and conversations that followed it, contradicted everything that Premier Higgs told us about lifting the shale gas moratorium.

Mr. Higgs has justified lifting the moratorium because, he said, jobs and $70 million in investment would follow.

However, Corridor said it won’t be doing any drilling or investing in New Brunswick until 2021 at the earliest, and then only if it finds a financial partner, and if gas market conditions are promising, and if the province eases some gas regulations. So even if everything falls into place, investment and jobs are years away. If Corridor can’t find a partner, or if market conditions are bad, or if New Brunswick chooses not to alter its regulations (which protect residents), there may not be jobs or investment.

A fracked well is shown in this file photo. PHOTO: MARK DIXON/FLICKR

Mr. Higgs also said our gas supply from Nova Scotia would stop at the end of 2018, and that we needed local shale gas to fill that void.

But pipeline owners and gas suppliers were already on record that there would remain plenty of gas supply, though there would be a price increase. Local shale gas wasn’t an answer to an immediate supply problem.

If exploration doesn’t begin until 2021, it could still be years beyond that before Corridor would be able to fill any local supply void.

So with years before any gas activity, why is the premier rushing to lift the moratorium? Even deciding to do it without legislative involvement? What about the concerns raised by the former chief medical officer’s award-winning report on shale gas, the conclusions of the Commission on Hydrofracking, and the five conditions implemented by the last government in its moratorium?

Isn’t there plenty of time for a sober and scientific discussion of those issues? What exactly is the public policy wisdom of acting in haste?

Mr. Higgs has also stated his government wouldn’t trade special favours for corporations in exchange for jobs. Does that apply to Corridor’s demands to weaken New Brunswick’s regulations? Is putting people at increased risk part of the “responsible” development of resources that gas proponents constantly tout?

Confronted with the contradictions to his campaign rhetoric, Mr. Higgs has switched his rationale and now suggests shale gas is needed to supply a potential liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility in Saint John. The facility was built years ago to import gas, but is now underused.

But even if he is right – and it’s a big “if” – we are still looking at years before any jobs or royalties accrue to the province.

It’s time for Mr. Higgs to tell us what the basis of his shale gas policy truly is, who will benefit from what he is proposing, and why he has rushed to act before any discussion of events that lie years in the future.

What is certain is that his reasons to lift the moratorium have been inconsistent, at best. How do citizens – both pro and anti-fracking – feel about promise of jobs and investment that won’t happen for many years, if ever?

Will we learn why we’re lifting the moratorium in Sussex, when Corridor said it wants to drill in Elgin? Will Sussex determine whether Elgin gets fracked, or did the premier simply use Sussex as a tool to show that somebody wanted shale gas?

How will the People’s Alliance react to having spent much of its newly won political capital on saving a government by supporting its throne speech amendment on fracking?

Were PC MLAs themselves blindsided by Higgs’ actions and haste? Do they feel embarrassed when defending these actions to constituents?

Most importantly, what will the legislature do? Will it wait years to see if Corridor’s wish list comes true, while the province drifts without cogent energy, climate, employment and economic plans?

The previous legislature’s all-party climate plan already contains a roadmap to a clean energy economy that needs only to be implemented. A recent study by Dunsky Energy Consulting, commissioned by Clean Energy Canada, indicates New Brunswick could replicate the successes of similar jurisdictions and create hundreds of jobs almost immediately, leading to thousands over the years.  Perhaps, moving gas customers to increasingly inexpensive renewable energy could be a priority.

Amazingly, in spite of all of this, there are those calling to broaden the consensus for shale gas. But no consensus can be built without a foundation built on truth.

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

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

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

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

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

Why should I send my #noshalegas letter?

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

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

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

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

Climate change

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

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

Water and air pollution

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

Recommended resources:

Moncton, NB – Plus de 1000 jeunes Néo Brunswickois ont participé au quatrième défi Branchez vous, Faites des vagues, organisé par le Réseau Environnemental du Nouveau-Brunswick. Ensemble, des jeunes, des écoles, des groupes environnementaux et des groupes communautaires de toute la province ont planté 1510 arbres indigènes et ont nettoyé 26 hectares de rivage.

« Branchez-vous, faites des vagues » est un défi lancé aux jeunes et aux groupes communautaires pour travailler ensemble sur des projets de conservation de la nature dans leur communauté locale. Suite au défi, les écoles ont été invités à participer à un défi photo afin de sensibiliser le public et illustrer leurs efforts. Leurs photos ont été affichées en ligne et le public a été invité à voter pour leur projet préféré. Les photos peuvent être visionnées sur le site web : https://nben.ca/fr/branchez-vous-faites-des-vagues

Le Grand gagnant du défi cette année est l’école secondaire régionale de Dalhousie avec plus de 600 votes et 3000 vus. Les élevés de M. Justin MacCurdy ont planté 50 arbres et nettoyé 3 hectares de rivage avec la ville de Dalhousie comme partenaire. Comme l’explique M. MacCurdy, « Air fraîche! Air salée! [Ce défi] a donné la chance aux élèves de 6e, 7e et 8e de DRHS la chance de poursuivre une expérience d'apprentissage en-dehors d'une salle de classe traditionnelle... La journée fut une superbe leçon en intendance, ce qui a donné aux élèves la chance de démontrer leur souci inné de notre environnement naturel local. Tout comme les roches qui ont sauté à travers de la baie cette journée-là, parfois nous nous retrouvons à sauter le long des trajectoires de la vie, mais il est important de prendre le temps de s'asseoir et de jouir de nos environs naturels, dans toute leur splendeur, afin de se trouver ancré et connecté.»
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Photo : Étudiants de l’école secondaire régionale de Dalhousie.

Contact : Raissa Marks, Réseau environnemental du Nouveau-Brunswick, nben@nben.ca, 506-855-4144
The Southeast Chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB SE) is pleased to announce that Simon Delattre of l'Acadie Nouvelle is this year's winner of the 3rd annual Beth McLaughlin Environmental Journalism award.

“Simon Delattre broke an important New Brunswick story that made everyone, including political decision-makers, aware of our growing use of glyphosate and the dangers it poses to human health and the environment,” said the judges of this year’s award.Delattre’s two-part series, published in August 2017, revealed that the forest company J.D. Irving was spraying the glyphosate-based product Weed Master in the protected area of the Turtle Creek watershed, which supplies drinking water to more than 144,000 residents in Greater Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe.Upon receiving his award at the Southeast Chapter’s meeting on Nov. 14, Delattre, who is from France, said he is asking more questions about how closely the New Brunswick government is aligned with the forestry industry. He said he is interested in covering more environmental stories.

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Simon Delattre (R) of l’Acadie Nouvelle accepts this year’s Beth McLaughlin Environmental Journalism Award at the Dieppe Public Library  on Nov. 14 from Dave MacDonald, president of the Southeast Chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. (Photo by Serge Robichaud)

The judges also selected the Red Dot group to receive an honourable mention for their work over the past four years in publicizing the poor water quality at Parlee Beach, as well as threats to coastal wetlands in the Shediac area.

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Arthur Melanson, speaking for the Red Dot Group at the Beth McLaughlin Environmental Journalism Award Presentation on October 14 at Dolma Food in Moncton. (Photo by Nancy Arsenault)

During their campaign, the Red Dots were constantly in the media, writing scores of letters to the editor, granting interviews to reporters, filing multiple Right to Information requests, and communicating directly with the provincial politicians responsible for protecting the environment and New Brunswickers' health.By April 2017, the group had more than 2,000 members, among them such familiar names as Arthur Melanson, Tim Borlase, Brenda Ryan, Michael Sullivan and Dr. Scott Mawdsley, who wrote a 100-page letter to then-Premier Brian Gallant pointing out that the government knew about fecal contamination at Parlee Beach for well over a decade, but did nothing to fix it.

The call for nominations for next year’s Beth McLaughlin Environmental Journalism Award will be out in the coming months. The Award for environmental reporting in New Brunswick comes with a $500 prize. The judges of this year’s award were Roland Chiasson, Erin Steuter, and Bruce Wark.
The CCNB SE Chapter thanks the judges, nominators, and the many other volunteers who make this award possible.

 
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Media contact:  Anita Cannon (506) 364-2572  ccnbsoutheast@gmail.com

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

Pour diffusion immédiate
Le 19 novembre 2018

Samedi le 17 novembre 2018, trois prix environnementaux ont été attribués à des citoyens du Nouveau-Brunswick et à un groupe communautaire pour souligner leurs services exemplaires à leur collectivité.
Eco confluence awards 2018
Gauche à droite : Raissa Marks, Directrice, Réseau environnemental du Nouveau-Brunswick ; Lois Corbett, Directrice, Conseil de conservation du Nouveau-Brunswick; Chris Rouse, PEACE-NB; Arthur Melanson, Janet Gordon, Warren Redman, Sauvons Marecages Eaux et Tourisme. Photo : RENB.

Lois Corbett fut honorée par le prix Phénix en reconnaissance de la « contribution de son expertise signifiante en communications, en revendication et en développement de politiques au mouvement environnemental du Nouveau-Brunswick, nous permettant tous d’amplifier notre impact sur des enjeux environnementaux aux niveau local, provincial et national. » Le prix Phénix est accordé à ceux et celles qui ont consacré leurs efforts aux politiques et à la législation et qui ont été dans le feu de l’action.

Le groupe communautaire Sauvons Marecages Eaux et Tourisme fut honoré par le prix Samaqan « pour avoir sonné l’alarme sur les menaces aux écosystèmes et aux communautés côtières le long du détroit de Northumberland et pour leur revendication de la transparence et la responsabilité du gouvernement en adressant ces menaces. » Le prix Samaqan est accordé annuellement à ceux et elles qui ont consacré leurs efforts aux eaux et aux espèces qui les habitent.

Chris Rouse fut honoré par le prix Gaia « pour son environnementalisme basé sur les solutions qui a mené à des améliorations en lois et en règlements et, plus récemment, à des modèles détaillés techniques et économiques qui visent à faciliter la transition du Nouveau-Brunswick vers une économie à faible carbone. » Le prix Gaia est accordé annuellement à ceux et elles qui ont consacré leurs efforts à la terre et aux espèces qui habitent la terre.

Les prix ont été présentés lors de la réunion annuelle du Réseau environnemental du Nouveau-Brunswick, Éco-confluence, qui a eu lieu à Fredericton au cours de la fin de semaine. Chaque année, les efforts importants déployés par les citoyens et les groupes de citoyens pour protéger et restaurer l’environnement au Nouveau-Brunswick sont reconnu durant une cérémonie spéciale.

Le Réseau environnemental du Nouveau-Brunswick est un réseau de communication sans but lucratif comprenant plus de 100 groupes environnementaux de citoyens et de citoyennes de toutes les régions de la province. Le but du Réseau est d’encourager les communications et la collaboration parmi les groupes et entre les groups, le gouvernement et d’autres secteurs.

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Contact:
Raissa Marks, 506-855-4144, nben@nben.ca
Letter-share-final

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!

vjel rights of nature poster

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

CPAWS official logo EnglishP9080086
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
CPAWS official logo English
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 !

Plandeprogramme FR
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.
 © 2018 NBEN / RENB