Join the Crowd: Vote for a Moratorium

Newfoundland has put a moratorium on shale gas exploration into effect, primarily over fears about effects on tourism around Gros Morne Park.

hopewellrocksAs we have pointed out, much of the expected shale gas extraction in NB is around our biggest tourist attractions….including our own UNESCO Fundy Biosphere Reserve and the Hopewell Rocks.

A resolution from the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities is supporting a province-wide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and calling for a dialogue about the practice of hydrofracking between First Nations, federal, provincial and municipal governments on potential impacts.
In the PEI Legislature, on November 26th 2013, the Standing Committee on
Agriculture, Environment, Energy and Forestry recommended a Moratorium on
High Volume Hydraulic Fracking on PEI.
With existing moratoria in Quebec and New York, New Brunswick is now the
only jurisdiction in our region pushing ahead with shale gas development.
Voters in the Colorado cities of Boulder, Fort Collins and Lafayette approved
anti-fracking initiatives by wide margins in early November, despite an industry
campaign against the measures that cost at least $875,000.
Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union (300,000 with 40,000 in the energy
sector), called for a Canada-wide moratorium on all new oil and gas fracking.
Unifor raised concerns about safety and environmental risks as well as the lack of
informed consent by First Nations about fracking activities on traditional lands.
Click here for our list of the New Brunswick municipalities and Provincial groups of all kinds that have called for a moratorium.

A “small special interest minority”?  We think not.

Advertisements

Let’s talk about traffic…

We understand that Contact Exploration will be resuming operations this year in Stoney Creek and Edgett’s Landing. As far as we know, they will be drilling and fracking for oil on existing well pads. This may mean fewer construction vehicles and water tankers than for new gas operations, but we know that gas exploration and development is coming soon.  We wonder how Route 114 will hold up.

So, what can we expect?  Here are three eye-opening videos:

Now…enough of those polished, high-priced sales videos…tell us what it’s really like…

Or one real life drive along a Pennsylvania highway one week after a fracking operation began.

Accountability

When will we start holding our politicians accountable for their words?  September 2014?

This video clip from the New Brunswick Legislature, April 2010…5 months before David Alward was elected premier of NB; and Bruce Northrup was appointed Minister Natural Resources.

As opposition leader, David Alward wants assurances from Natural Resources Minister Wally Stiles that New Brunswickers’ drinking water will be protected in the hunt for natural gas. During this made-for-tv comedy show, the PCs want to know what the Liberals will do if water contamination takes place – cause, you know….it has elsewhere.

The Liberals repeat over and over again:  We have an EIA. We have rules. Companies will follow them. (sound familiar?) They say if you hear something 7 times, you will remember it. Apparently, the PCs learned the response well.

5:15:  David Alward (PC): “You can have all the regulations in the world, but if the companies are not doing what they are supposed to do, it’s not going to help anybody.”

5:43:  Wally Stiles (LIB): “Southwest Energy has a very good track record, an environmentally friendly company. They have public meetings. They deal with regulations on a professional basis.”

6:45: Bruce Northrup (PC): “…tell that to the people of Penobsquis who went for 5 yrs without water….As far as this side of the house, Mr. Speaker, we will stick up for the people of New Brunswick….we’re here for the people of New Brunswick. All 55 of us should be here for the people of New Brunswick.”

Really? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Get to the truth of the matter.

fred_nofrackThe people of New Brunswick deserve to know the truth behind our government’s repeated statements on ‘fracking’. Our top level of government assumes that most people will blindly accept what they have to say, without researching the facts for themselves.

Researcher/writer Carla Gunn answers the most pressing fracking questions on the minds of New Brunswickers and provides the counter-arguments, with links.

Examples….

1. Q: For what areas of New Brunswick do oil and gas companies have licenses to explore?

A: An interactive map of licensed areas – encompassing roughly 1/7 of NB’s land mass –  can be found here. 

2.  Q: Both NB’s Premier and Minister Energy and Mines, Craig Leonard, have stated that this type of fracking has been done safely in Alberta for years. Is this true?

A: No. Alberta has been mined for conventional gas –  not unconventional gas.  The Government of Alberta’s  website clearly states that  high-volume, multi-stage slickwater hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for unconventional shale gas, like that found in the hard shale formations in N.B.,  had not occurred up to July 2011.  Since then, there have been some exploratory and experimental wells drilled. However, “Alberta, though Canada’s largest oil and gas producer, has been behind many other jurisdictions in identifying and tapping many of its shale prospects, so development is still in early stage.” See this article. [See below for further explanation of what fracking entails].

3. Q: N.B. Minister of Energy and Mines, Craig Leonard, has repeatedly stated that most New Brunswickers want a fracking industry. Isn’t this true?

A. No. As revealed by a MQO research poll in June 2012, the majority of New Brunswickers oppose fracking (56 per cent opposed, 28 per cent in support and 16 per cent  undecided).  Then, in a June 2013 poll, when asked to rate the safety of shale gas exploration on a scale of one to 10 – with 1 being not safe at all and 10 being extremely safe – the average rating was 3.8.  In addition, over 20,000 New Brunswickers signed a petition calling for a ban on fracking and First Nations communities along with many service districts, municipalities and organizations are calling for either a ban or a moratorium.

Nationally, Canadians want a halt to fracking. A October 2013 Environics poll reveals: ”B.C. residents, at 67 per cent, were most likely to support a moratorium on fracking. B.C. was followed by Atlantic Canada, where 66 per of those polled supported a moratorium, then Ontario (65 per cent), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (64 per cent), Alberta (57 per cent) and Quebec (55 per cent).

For the answers to more questions, including the biggie:  Won’t fracking create lots of jobs? visit her website.

Stop the Madness

The following letter to the editor written by Deborah Carr was emailed to the Times & Transcript on Nov 18, 2013. It has not yet been printed, so we are posting it here as December 10 is international Human Rights Day.

~~~

Like others, I viewed the images of the devastation and death brought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines with a deep sense of grief and loss and helplessness.

How can we not be moved by the impassioned plea of Yeb Saño, Philippines climate negotiator, as he committed to a hunger strike and begged the world to address the climate crisis?

“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness,” Saño said.

davidsuzukiDr. David Suzuki recently spoke a similar message to a packed house at the Capitol Theatre, restating that we have blindly ignored 25 years of warnings from the science community, and are now at a critical crossroads. Scientists are 95% certain climate change is caused by human impact on the environment.

Here in New Brunswick, our government recognizes flooding in Perth-Andover and storm surges along our Acadian coast to be a result of  global warming and following Dr. Suzuki’s talk, we watched a documentary on vulnerable coastal communities in all Atlantic Provinces that have been subjected to the flooding and surges.  But what we have experienced so far cannot come close to the massive devastation experienced elsewhere….yet.

davidsuzuki2The Climate Commission reports there will be catastrophic consequences for all if we do not move toward renewable energy and leave 80 per cent of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.  The time to change direction now. In only a few years, Massachusetts has created 80,000 jobs in the clean energy sector. Others are doing it, why not us?

In a recent CBC interview, Ireland’s former president and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson reminds us that this is – above all – a human rights issue. Beyond countries already suffering crop loss due to periods of drought and flooding, UN agencies now say a further 9.6 million people are at risk of food insecurity caused by erratic and extreme weather conditions.

People in vulnerable countries are dying as a result of industrial greed, political corruption and citizen complacency in the wealthy north. “This is a matter that requires the greatest of human solidarity – a movement to make the world safe for the future,” Robinson said, noting our grandchildren will bear the brunt of our choices today.

Meanwhile, feeling helpless and powerless, we burrow deeper under our cozy blankets of complacency.

If we have any hope of ‘stopping the madness’, you and I must take an active role and demand that governments seek a broader vision and reduce our nation’s dependence upon fossil fuels.  This is now a necessity, not a choice.

If you and I do not educate ourselves; if you and I do not begin making better choices in our day to day living; if you and I do not vote consciously and then hold our politicians accountable – our grandchildren have no hope of a future.

“If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?’ asked Saño.

Indeed.  If not you and me, then who?

Our choices will determine our children’s future

“Sustainable development must define the choices we make to provide our children with both a thriving and healthy world. It has become increasingly apparent that the shale gas industry is incompatible with sustainability.”

There is no shortage of independent scientific research to prove this statement, as well as actual experiences from places where shale gas has been developed.

There are presently more than 70 New Brunswick municipalities that have called for a ban or a moratorium on shale gas development in the province – along with 30 groups, and a dozen organizations/associations (many of them health-related), as well as countless individuals.

There is little public support for such development, particularly in our rural areas. In a recent meeting with Regional Service District representatives from Kent County, Energy & Mines Minister Craig Leonard said that he would support individual landowners who said ‘no’ to having wells drilled on their property, but would not support municipalities calling for a moratorium within their boundaries. This is an erosion of our democratic rights.

The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance has compiled a marvelous collection of short pieces that summarize the different issues of concern related to shale gas development. The twelve important topics, which aren’t often part of the public discussion, are covered individually. Many of the topics greatly affect those not living in shale gas areas.   While geared specifically towards the interests of municipal decision-makers, they also provide fact-based evidence for individuals looking for credible information and research. Read more…

Fracking fun…

WEPAC wishes to congratulate the organizers and volunteers of the Albert County Exhibition, being held Sept 12-15, 2013 for reaching this monumental 100th Anniversary Celebration.  We are proud that our small rural community has been able to continue with this exhibition for an entire century. It speaks to the tremendous commitment of the volunteers who make it possible and to the loyalty of the people who attend and take part.

To help celebrate all that we hold dear in our county and our province, we have sent WEPAC volunteers, Agent Jack No Frack and his partner, Mother Earth down to the Ex as our representatives.

BREAKING NEWS:  Agent Jack and Mother Earth Win
1st and 2nd prizes at the Exhibition!

004_1

Call on Jack No Frack to protect what you love. He may look friendly and harmless now, but do damage to his special lady, Mother Earth, and you won’t know Jack! —

007_4

Agent Jack for Hire…

008_5

Have a word with Mother Earth. Spend some time at her feet and listen to her wisdom. Consider the many ways she nurtures you.

006_3

Words of Wisdom from the Earth.

009_6

WEPAC kids in the parade on Saturday. Our float won 3rd Prize! We aim to cultivate a new generation of community members…ones holding values of pride, participation and protection. But – hey – it’s also nice to get a wee bit o’recognition for the hard work, too!

ACEparade

(This following photo from the Hillsborough Parade)

img_1308a.jpg

See you at the Ex!

Grassroots Guardians:

Why Protecting New Brunswick from Shale Gas Development is Everyone’s Responsibility

Last month, Council of Canadians National Chairperson, Maude Barlow spoke to over 500 people at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, New Brunswick on the need for all cultures to come together in a quest to protect our land, air and water.

If you were unable to attend the event itself, it was recorded in three parts:

PART 1:  Patricia Leger, of Memramcook Action, speaks first to the intensive work and solidarity of many groups and volunteers across the province of New Brunswick who are collaborating in opposition to hydro-fracking for gas and oil. Deborah Carr of Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County spoke to the situation in the areas surrounding Moncton and the potential for developments in south-eastern New Brunswick, giving the reasons why everyone needs to become involved.

PART 2 –  Ron Tremblay, of Maliseet First Nations, begins in his native tongue because his grandfather always told him to speak in his own language first when he talks.  Then, in English, using the stories of his culture, he explains the need for all people to take a stand to protect our shared Mother Earth. He talks about polluted rivers and his arrest, as he stood at the junction of Routes 116 and 126 to block seismic thumper trucks. He shares the prophecies of the elders that the people will reach a crossroads and if we advance beyond, there will be no turning back. We are at that crossroads; it is the time for rising up of all people to protect our future.

PART 3 – Maude Barlow, National Chairperson for the Council of Canadians, speaks on the environmental protection work being done throughout the world, and here in New Brunswick, where our opposition is being watched by other provinces, states and countries.  She paints a grim picture of the state of our environment, but shares optimism inspired by the very large successes of dedicated people and groups, among them our First Nations communities. She encourages the financial support of legal injunctions to stop the government from proceeding with the exploitation of our natural gas. (see www.knowshalegasnb.com).

Wetlands taking a blasting

(Conservation Council of NB Media Release; news coverage to follow)

Shale gas exploration gets green light in wetlands, around watercourses

Fredericton – After being alerted to the fact that seismic testing and related work for shale gas exploration is happening in wetlands and around significant watercourses in Kent County, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) has learned that government has granted a blanket permit to do work across wetlands and watercourse buffers in 8 provincial counties.

CCNB was approached by Kent County residents Tina Beers, Harcourt Local Service District Advisory Committee Chair, and her husband John, also with the Harcourt LSD and a volunteer firefighter, who came across activity in a nearby wetland. They were immediately concerned that activity was taking place in sensitive wetland and floodplain areas and started inquiring about the rules for working in and around them.

CCNB requested, and the Department of Environment and Local Government has shared, the wide-sweeping Wetland and Watercourse Alteration (WAWA) permit granted to SWN Resources Canada in April for their seismic exploration program to do work in “various” wetlands and watercourse buffers throughout Albert, Kent, Kings, Northumberland, Queens, Sunbury, Westmorland and York counties.

Ms. Beers was shocked to learn how easy it was for the company to have such widespread access to wetlands.

“We keep hearing that our waters will be protected from shale gas exploration through the strict new ‘Rules for Industry’, she said, “but we look into this issue that concerns us just to find that the province has given the company a green light to go into these sensitive areas”.

“We really want the public to know this,” Ms. Beers continued, “this is a real example of how the “rules” are being applied right now.”

Mr. Beers came across a drill rig stuck in the wetland while out on a fishing trip. A swath of land was cleared larger than allowed as the rig needed to be removed by an excavator.

The wetland is about 16 hectares and located roughly ½ km from, with the water drainage connected to, Hector Fork, a tributary of the Richibucto River. Shot hole blasts were also marked less than 40m from the bank of the Richibucto River, an identified wetland area.

“The Rules for Industry” that government is so proud of are permit conditional, like most of our environmental regulations in New Brunswick, says Stephanie Merrill, Freshwater Protection Program director for CCNB. “A proponent can apply for a variance, they write a check for the fee, it’s given the stamp of approval and off they go”, Merrill explained. “Our ‘rules’ are useless if there is no political will to use them for the intended purpose and unfortunately the granting of WAWA permits specifically is very common practice,” Merrill stated.

In addition to granting alteration permits for ‘regulated wetlands” — wetlands acknowledged by the Department of Environment through their GeoNB mapping system, SWN has been actively working in “unregulated wetlands” — not mapped but that still exist on the landscape. These wetland alterations require no oversight from the Department of Environment since 2011 when then Minister of Environment Margaret-Ann Blaney made dramatic changes to how wetlands are regulated in the province.

CCNB has previously estimated that this mapping system only accounts for about 50% of wetlands that exist on the ground and identified 16 examples where wetlands were relieved of their ‘regulated’ status.

“We’ve been saying since these changes were made over two years ago, that the Department is actually in violation of their own Clean Water Act by ignoring these wetlands and relieving them from any protection, permitting, tracking and monitoring, says Merrill. “How can government expect the public to be comfortable with new rules when the old ones aren’t even followed?”

CBC Coverage
– Print:  SWN Given permit to test in wetlands– TV:  http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/NB/ID/2397123866/

 

Economic fear mongering is alive and well

The following letter from Taymouth resident, Jim Emberger appeared in the Daily Gleaner on January 23, in response to repeated essays, articles and letters attacking those opposed to shale gas development. (for links, see below).

What I find personally shocking is our Health Minister’s tone: “Jed Clampett had sense enough to take the oil and turn it into $60 billion and move to Beverley Hills, but people in New Brunswick want to stay in the shack and have granny as their doctor,” Flemming said.

Yet, what he doesn’t say is even a fictional character from the back hills of the Ozarks had the sense to skip town with his money rather than stay and endure the oil drilling in his own backyard.

May I also point out that those in the industry have salaries. Those in our government have salaries. They are paid to do what they do and to say what they say.

Those who are on the front lines of the opposition are volunteers. We are giving our time and our own resources to this cause. We are funding our travel expenses and our publicity and legal expenses. We are taking time away from our work and our families to research and attend meetings and rallies. Many have been involved in this for years. We come from all walks of life. If we were not utterly convinced and passionate about this cause, would we still be here? Our government is ignoring our voice and failing to address our concerns.

Jim’s response is reprinted with permission from the author.

Letter to the Editor, The Daily Gleaner
Jan. 23, 2013
by Jim Emberger

Curiously, Minister of Health Ted Flemming, Dr. LaPierre, geologist Adrian Park and some letter-to–the-editor writers use identical language to claim that opponents of shale gas rely on inaccurate data from the film Gasland, and indulge in hysterical fear mongering.

How dishonest, hypocritical and desperate! Unable to convince the public about the wonders of shale gas, they attempt to discredit the opposition. Gasland served as a wake-up call several years ago, but has been superseded by much history and science. I can’t remember any public forum in two years where it was cited as a reference.

Shale opponents cite Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, international expert in rock fracturing, peer-reviewed scientific studies in prestigious journals, the US EPA, the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, government records of violations, and the industry’s own reports of failure.

We cite the only long-term public health study by the University of Colorado, and The Endocrine Disruption Exchange on the toxicity of fracking chemicals. We point to the scholarly report done by New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Eilesh Cleary, which notes that we know almost nothing about shale’s public health threats.

Recent peer-reviewed studies from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado are cited showing that shale worsens climate-change.

Economists, financial analysts, science-based non-profit organizations, and the testimonies of people affected by shale gas from across North America are our sources. We’ve brought many expert speakers to the New Brunswick public.

Where are the voices for the pro side? We hear only from gas-producing interests.

Where are the independent studies proving that wells don’t leak, that water doesn’t get contaminated and air isn’t polluted, that there are no health problems, that methane isn’t leaking, that fracking chemicals aren’t toxic/carcinogenic, that roads aren’t destroyed, that quality of life doesn’t suffer, that shale gas’s boom and bust economic shell game doesn’t leave a place worse off?

The silence is deafening.

We offered to debate publicly, but government and industry were no-shows.
The government merely repeats the totally false and unsupported idea that shale gas is our only economic hope. Talk about fear mongering propaganda.

Jim Emberger
Taymouth, N.B.

In response to: