Maritimers resisting shale gas development in the three provinces will hold a meeting on Monday, September 10th, in Charlottetown, PEI.
The Maritime Peoples’ Think Tank will convene 1:00-4:30pm in the Meeting Hall at St. Peter’s Cathedral, 11 All Souls Lane. It will parallel the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference at the Delta Hotel.
Eliza Knockwood, of the Abegweit First Nation and Green Party candidate in District 11 Charlottetown, will give a Mi’kmaq welcoming and Mother Earth Song to open the meeting.
The Think Tank will explore the common goals of the various groups to strengthen their networks and build on what polls say: 62 percent of Canadians are opposed to unconventional shale gas development.
Nova Scotia’s Matthew Chisholm has been active in the youth movement of the primary organization in his province: “The Nova Scotia Fracking and Resource Action Coalition (NOFRAC) has been working with over 100 members and organizations to build a citizen-based movement about the practice of hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia. The two-year moratorium on fracking in our province is a step in the right direction, but we also need to see Strategic Environmental Assessments and proper consultation with front-line communities that face the impacts of unconventional fossil fuel extraction. We are fully committed to working with citizens groups across the Atlantic provinces and ensuring that our elected representatives put people before polluters.”
Guarding water is a key issue. “Our drinking water aquifers in our Maritime Provinces include some of the largest in Canada, such as those those under the Saint John River Basin, the Carboniferous Basin, and the entire province of PEI,” says Mark D’Arcy from the community group, Friends of the UNB Woodlot, and one of the organizers of the people’s forum.
“So if you punch holes through these aquifers, pump millions of gallons of toxic water into shale gas wells, and then have a well-documented well integrity failure rate of 1 in 20, there is a high probability of groundwater contamination. And this only gets worse over time as a third of the wells fail in 10 years, and over half the wells fail in 20 years,” says D’Arcy.
D’Arcy adds, “Besides, our New Brunswick government has manufactured a deficit crisis to justify shale gas development. So we must reverse the previous government’s 2008 tax cuts for the rich and get on with growing and diversifying our economy.”
Economics Professor Tony Myatt on taxation in New Brunswick:
The Maritime initiative for Monday afternoon developed from the New Brunswick Alliance: No Shale Gas. Its 25 community groups range the spectrum of people calling for information on health, environment, life style and economies before continuing development.
Air pollution from shale gas infrastructure is also a concern. Barb Harris, of River John, Nova Scotia, has visited New Brunswick to speak and has written extensively about health concerns, particularly for the need for studies on the potential threat to children.
“Not only are children proportionally more exposed to toxins, children’s immature bodies are less able to metabolize some toxic substances. This means children are more vulnerable when they are exposed. Young children and babies in the womb are especially vulnerable. In these early stages, children go through critical periods of development when even small exposures to toxins can result in serious, lifelong harm,” she wrote in Fracking, “Shale Gas and Children’s Health: Toxins and Vulnerable Populations.”
In April this year the Nova Scotia government declared a two year moratorium on natural gas hydraulic fracturing while it gathers more science on the controversial practice.
Despite some 20,000 signatures on a petition calling for a moratorium in New Brunswick, the government struck a shale gas study group that came up with 116 recommendations for petroleum industry regulation, which it aired in nine meetings in rural areas. A report of the hearing committee is expected in November.
Meanwhile the New Brunswick government’s claim that shale gas industry jobs will pay for education, health and social services is described by some as short term gain for long term pain.
In Prince Edward Island, the PEI Federation of Labour and the Atlantic Sierra Club have asked the Government of PEI to declare a moratorium on the process of hydraulic fracking on the island.
The People’s Summit is open to the public and will be facilitated by Mary Boyd. Boyd works with the PEI Health Network, Poverty Bites and the McKillop Centre for Social Justice. Guest speakers include Leo Broderick, Council of Canadians (Vice-Chair, Board of Directors), Garth Hood of Thoughtful Dwellings Inc., and representatives of political parties and labour.
For further information, contact: Terry Wishart, Harvey Environmental Action Team, t.wishart [at] banfrackingnb.ca