Dear Dr. Louis Lapierre,
We are writing this letter to express our extreme fear register our concerns in the matter of potential shale gas or natural gas exploration and development in the Corn Hill area in particular, and New Brunswick in general.
We had not even heard of shale gas until, 2 years ago, Corridor Resources attended our Community Hall and offered an information session regarding seismic testing related to natural or shale gas exploration and we were exceedingly disheartened by the messages we heard, and by Corridor Resources inability to satisfy our concerns. They held another information session on October 20th of that same year, but we are doing our own research at this time. Having witnessed the state of affairs in the Penobsquis area, we feel we can no longer trust Corridor’s claims of benign exploration. We are concerned for the health and well-being of our community, the effects of seismic testing and the ultimate damage done to our properties by drills, well, and heavy equipment. We are also concerned that our country roads, adequate for their current traffic levels, are not suitable for the increase in traffic due to heavy equipment, water trucks (we understand for industry representatives 20 – 100 passes per day) and the gravel trucks hauling materials for the building of well pads. What happens if a truck were to inadvertently leave these roads, spilling their toxic wastewater and tailings from mining operations, into our cattle fields and potentially tainting our water wells?
We are thankful to see that a panel has been formed and is holding “Listening Meetings” throughout the province, but we also ask for your recommendations to include holding public, inclusive, and independent consultations on this exploration and development, and request that a moratorium be placed on all exploration and development activities until further study is done.
Shale gas, or natural gas exploration and development has the possibility of affecting a larger area of land and a larger population than any project in the history of New Brunswick. Please remember that approximately 50% of New Brunswickers live in areas that would be considered rural … we are not a “country few” prepared to make a sacrifice for the “urban many”! The relatively new technology for gas extraction involving the “fracking” of shale rock has led to many concerns in areas where it is currently carried out across the US states and Canadian Provinces. We do not appear to have in place, the appropriate regulations for protecting our citizens. Development should only proceed using best practices and with regulations and guarantees that will protect water resources, air quality, and the nature of rural communities, and until such time as these things are in firmly place, all activity should cease. A “discussion paper” does not create a regulated environment.
One of our primary concerns is that of the water that sustains our community. The representative from Corridor Resources who attended the information session held in Cornhill assured us that “no seismic activity completed by Corridor Resources has ever damaged local water resources”. He could not, however, provide a guarantee that this could not happen, and stated that if it did, Corridor Resources would certainly “come and talk to the landowner.” I’m afraid that if our water was to mysteriously disappear during or after seismic testing, or become tainted by compounds lurking in the sediment layers, or by chemical used or disturbed during the fracking process, no amount of “talking to landowners” would bring it back. Agricultural activities such as dairy farming (there are very large dairy farms in our area) would be severely impacted, and the ability of these landowners/business people to earn a living, as they have done, on their land would be diminished. We ourselves are beef farmers, and rely on clean water for both our cattle and our home use. Should our water be tainted, or our water table damaged such that the water was gone, we would be out of business and our way of life could never recover.
Our second concern is that of agriculture and jobs and the use of our land to provide part of our living. My husband has been a farmer for all of his life, and has made all or part of our living on this property for 17 years. His education is a degree in science (agriculture) from McGill University and he expected to continue farming until old age forces him to quit. We have approximately 160 acres and approximately 50 cow/calf pairs of cattle … the optimum number. Should a drill pad (or more than one) of 4 to 6 acres be installed on our farm, we would have to reduce our herd, and this would impact our ability to earn our living. Currently there are 2 major dairies in our community, one providing around 10 full-time employment positions, and the other 4. Brunswick Nurseries, a large retail nursery with café on site, provides several year round positions, and upwards of 35 seasonal full time jobs. This is all employment that would be lost should those businesses be forced to close due to lack of water, or due to unsafe water. It is HIGHLY unlikely that these people would be hired for the technical, ticketed, skilled jobs that would result from the shale gas industry.
Thirdly, we are concerned about our property values. For many of us, having worked hard to pay off our farms, the land itself has become our pension plan investment. When the time comes for us to cease farming, we have planned to have the option to sell our farm to fund our retirement. Having seen what has happened to property values in the Penobsquis area, and other areas in Canada where such activity has taken place, we fear that we will end up with a piece of property that is virtually value-less. No longer might we have the quality water we now enjoy, the land itself is likely to be dotted with drill pads and waste water ponds or tanks, flares and powerful lights will light up the star-filled sky, the roads will be run 24/7 with tanker trucks bringing in water for fracking or taking waste water away, the sound of flaring, traffic, and drilling will take over our quiet existence, and the smell of gas will be everywhere … as evidenced in Penobsquis. Our soil will be tainted, our air will be filled with pollutants, and the noise level will be that of a city. The view, instead of a peaceful valley full or corn, grain, and cattle, will be a landscape of drills, drill pads, and heavy equipment. And so you can see, if our property becomes worthless for sale, we certainly have also lost our quality of life should we be forced to stay.
We have been following the reports from the various communities where the listening panel has visited, and we note that very very few people have spoken out in favour of this development. We also note that many of those people do not live in a leased area – we find it would be easy to speak for something for which a person can enjoy all the benefits without experiencing any of the risk. We are not so foolish as to believe that all life remains the same indefinitely. We know that development, business and progress must happen in order for our province and our country to grow and support it’s citizens. We also note that all the regulatory framework in the world cannot prevent any of the above from happening, and that our government has proven itself unable to protect its citizenry from big industry when called upon. Please ask for a moratorium to be put in place against any further exploration or development, until such time as studies can prove its safety, and ground can be explored in such a way that will not have such a disastrous effect on local people. We are, after all, the voting public.