The Penniac Anti-Shale Gas Organization is one of the 11 groups still working for a ban on shale gas activity in New Brunswick. Armand Paul with the Penniac Anti-Shale Gas Organization responds below to comments of approval for the industry made by Bethany Thorne-Dykstra with the Citizens for Responsible Resource Development at a media conference with Bruce Northrup, the Minister of Natural Resources, on July 6, 2011.
Like many others, we in the Penniac Anti-Shale-Gas Organization are both surprised and mystified by the sudden reversal of position by the president of Citizens for Responsible Resource Development. We understand that the group’s constitution includes a call for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until there is scientific proof that it is not harmful.
All the scientific evidence so far available indicates that fracking is very dangerous, so this new stand seems to be directly contrary to the group’s official constitution. No wonder there’s so much speculation about what might have motivated such a sea change in that group’s objectives.
In our opinion, the government’s announcement of new regulations changes very little. Nobody would trust the results if the gas companies get to conduct the baseline well testing. That should be done by independent labs, and simply paid for by the gas companies.
Having the gas companies disclose which poisonous and carcinogenic chemicals they plan to use is pointless, unless the government does some research and tells the companies what chemicals they can and cannot use. There’s nothing like that indicated in the new regulations.
And a security bond for compensating property owners is a pretty clear acknowledgement that our government fully understands that therewill be problems, and property owners will experience damage and loss.
Finally, the promise to pay a share of royalties to communities and land owners who agree to have wells on their property is a transparent attempt to buy support for a dangerous industry that simply cannot be undertaken without causing damage.
The promised regulations do not even address the detrimental effects that are guaranteed to occur in New Brunswick, as they have everywhere the shale gas industry has touched:
· Industrialization of the landscape, with wellheads, pipelines and storage tanks popping up wherever there’s a well;
· Increased industrial traffic, with more than a thousand tanker trucks of potable water rolling in for fracking every well;
· Trucking and storage of dangerous chemicals at every well site, and there could be as many as 5,000 wells in our province;
· 24-hour-a-day noise during the fracking process from compressors that sound like a roaring jet engine.
As for the accusation of special-interest groups frightening people with information about what the shale gas industry has done elsewhere, that much is true. Groups such as the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and the many anti-shale-gas community groups have been giving people real information, and it is very frightening. The “special interest” of these groups is the health and well-being of all New Brunswickers, and the protection of their homes, property and water supplies. If that’s fear-mongering, I guess we’re guilty.
The Penniac Anti-Shale-Gas Organization continues to call for an outright ban of the shale gas industry in New Brunswick, because we believe that the risks it presents are too great, and inescapable. We will continue to tell our neighbours about what could happen to all of us if this dangerous industry is allowed to develop here.