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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