About 50 people from several small communities in southern New Brunswick, including Corn Hill, Penobsquis and Sussex, rallied for the responsible development of their natural resources in front of the Legislature on Tuesday, Nov. 23.
Bruce Northrup is the province’s new Natural Resources Minister. He spoke with Bethany Thorne-Dykstra, spokesperson for the Citizens for Responsible Resource Development, before heading into the first legislative seating of Alward’s government. He promised to address the concerns of the residents. Northrup’s riding, Kings East, is affected by shale gas activity.
New Brunswick’s largest environmental group, CCNB, supports the call made by the Citizens for Responsible Resource Development to have the provincial government place a moratorium on shale gas exploration and development until appropriate safeguards are adopted to protect the environment, communities, and the public interest.
“We have not got our act together as a province to effectively regulate the natural gas industry in New Brunswick,” said Stephanie Merrill, CCNB’s Freshwater Protection Program Co-ordinator. “Sixty homes in Penobsquis lost their drinking water after seismic testing, natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing were permitted around the potash mine. Why would we rush into shale gas development with its additional risks before we are ready,” asked Merrill.
Exploration and production for shale gas uses a controversial technology called hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling to liberate gas from impermeable shale rock. Massive quantities of water mixed with sand and thousands of kilograms of chemicals are pumped underground at extremely high pressures to fracture the rock. A substantial portion of the chemically contaminated water stays in the ground, while what is recovered must be treated as hazardous waste. The resulting natural gas must be “dried” which releases hazardous emissions into the air.
In addition to environmental safeguards, CCNB wants local communities to be given the authority to determine the acceptable locations and scale of natural gas development within their boundaries.