The current NB government has embraced an aggressive policy of oil and gas exploration and mine development. It has embarked on this policy without public consultation and without one shred of documented government study on the impacts of such a policy.
It is obvious from the public comments of both the Liberal and Conservative leaders that they view the Environmental Impact Assessments of individual mining and drilling projects as a substitute for genuine, province wide consultation on the future of this controversial, unsustainable approach to our economic future. Neither party has learned from the NB Power debacle that New Brunswickers want a say in decisions that change our society.
And make no mistake, these open pit mines, oil wells and gas fields will lead to the industrialization of the New Brunswick landscape. The Highlands are now blanketed with mineral claims that threaten hundreds of thousands of hectares of prime Acadian Forest, and put at risk many of our most pristine streams and watersheds. The agricultural regions of southern New Brunswick are being carved up for drilling pads that will eventually operate every square mile in potentially millions of hectares. The threats to water supplies, forests and agricultural lands will extend far beyond the limits of the day to day operations of any one project.
Most of these unsustainable operations will have a 20 year life span, after which we will be left with land and water compromised for any productive forest or agricultural use for centuries. We will also be left with the health consequences of having exposed our children to air and water emissions laced with lead, arsenic and other toxins, as evidenced in the Cancer Report by Inka Milewski of CCNB.
New Brunswickers should be demanding province-wide hearings on the future of minerals, oil and gas to provide an open forum for all the issues to be put on the table. Only then will we have an informed vision to guide the future of mining in this province; a vision not determined by the financial interests of unelected political party hacks.