Moncton – Police closed Main Street as hundreds of protesters descended on downtown Moncton to protest shale gas fracking in the province.
Protesters marched down Main Street from Highfield Square and assembled in front of City Hall. The demonstration was peaceful, with around a dozen police in attendance.
“Don’t be fooled,” said Moncton physician Dr. Angela LeGresley addressing the crowd. “This method (fracking) has a tremendous environmental footprint.”
LeGresley spoke not only of immediate health effects such as increased asthma reported in drill sites but also of associated harms such as the exhaust of trucks needed to transport the 5 million gallons of water needed for one fracking event.
“The unconventional drilling for natural gas has gotten ahead of the science to prove it safe,” she said.
She referred to legislation in Pennsylvania where news reports describe a “controversial section imposing confidentiality agreements on doctors who gain access to “trade secret” chemical compounds” – that would prohibit doctors from revealing to patients the nature of chemical compounds they have been exposed to.
“This appears to be a large ill-conceived experiment,” she said.
“We are winning this battle,” said another speaker, Brad Walters, noting that anti-fracking legislation has been passed in jurisdictions such as New York and Vermont. Walters is a professor of geography and environmental studies at Mount Allison University.
In New Brunswick, Southwestern Resources Canada (SWN) has abandoned testing for shale gas, attributing the slowdown to delays in obtaining permits rather than declining gas prices.
The NB Chapter of the College of Family Physicians has called for a moratorium on shale gas exploration, said Dr. Elizabeth Massarelli, reading from a statement by Dr. Anick Pelletier, president of the NB College of Family Physicians.
Studies are only starting to emerge on the impact of fracking, and there is still a need to look at the cumulative effects, she said.
This article was originally published in the Moncton Free Press.
More pictures of the rally by Stephen Downes here.
Check out the Conservation Council’s Facebook photo album of the rally here.