Fracking announcement: good news in an ugly package

Written by Dallas McQuarrie on August 18, 2019

Sussex residents at a community meeting about fracking, 2011

The August 12 announcement by Corridor Resources that it is shelving plans to frack for natural gas near Sussex was indeed welcome news. Not welcome was the sleazy, disingenuous and vicious nature of the announcement itself.

In a quarterly financial report to investors announcing its decision, Corridor cited “regulatory uncertainty in New Brunswick.” An August 13 CBC news report noted that the company says its decision is tied to provincial consultations with Indigenous people. Thus, Corridor is attempting to somehow assign the responsibility for its decision to Aboriginal peoples who are doing nothing more than ask that their legal rights be respected.

Intentionally or not, by linking its decision to provincial consultations with First Nations – the very folks whose land Corridor wants to frack – the company is bound to stir up resentment against Aboriginal peoples among the misinformed generally, and right-wing extremists in particular. What makes the announcement so distasteful and misleading is that in its rush to make Aboriginal people a scapegoat, Corridor ignored some ugly truths about the shale gas industry that are a big red flag for investors.

First, the finances of the shale gas industry are a financial dumpster fire that smart investors are avoiding. There is a myriad of reasons to not invest in shale gas, including both economic and financial conditions, climate change and all the scientific research to date (1,400 studies at last count) that has prompted many countries to ban fracking outright. Of increasing importance as deterrents to investment are the increasing number of legal cases, and the fact that many now say that fracking is a violation of human rights.

As well, the moment any move is made to frack in New Brunswick, there will be legal challenges to both the industry and the government that allows it. Most notable here is the lawsuit filed by NBASGA (New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance) which is based on a mountain of peer-reviewed, scientific studies showing the harmful consequences of fracking to people and the environment.

The bottom line is that anyone investing in shale gas in New Brunswick would demonstrate the truth of the old adage that ‘fools and their money are soon parted.’ But, of course,

Corridor couldn’t tell its investor shareholders the truth about the industry and the magnitude of the challenges it faces. When has any company ever told investors ‘we’re a lousy investment and our future is bleak?’

So, Corridor tried to off-load responsibility for its decision on First Nations, all the while ignoring the fact the industry itself is in a state of crisis. I don’t know whether Corridor was deliberately being racist in making Aboriginal peoples the scapegoat for its decision. Perhaps the company was only trying to prop up its own delusions – delusions the Higgs government has bought into 100% – that shale gas has a bright future and can be used as an engine of economic growth.

But the effect of Corridor’s dirty announcement will be the same as all the other times lies have been told about Aboriginal peoples, namely that First Nations will be blamed for something that was not their doing. Racists and those who just don’t get it, will say the First Nations are killing jobs and holding back economic development.

The truth is that shale gas is a catastrophe for climate change, public health and environmental stewardship. It is an industry of death serving those who value profit more than life itself. What Corridor should have said in its announcement was that at a time when climate changes poses an existential threat to us all, the shale gas industry only offers misery and pain on a highway to oblivion.

Dallas McQuarrie writes for the NB Media Co-op and lives on Mi’kmaq territory in St. Ignace.

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