Penobsquis – Today, the Premier of the province stopped by Penobsquis, once again, as part of his campaign. To the best of my knowledge he has not met with anyone from Penobsquis during these stops though. And the Premier has ignored requests of the local landowners group to meet with him for the past 18 months – so it is particularly obnoxious that he is here promoting unconventional gas and fracking while ignoring the request of those stakeholders most personally affected by it.
Landowners here in Penobsquis are concerned about abandonment, decommissioning, and the spills and other incidents that are happening on our well pads and with the new royalty scheme. Some of us are even pro-fracking, while some of us are concerned, and some of us are against.
We have an unequal relationships with the gas company. One of those David and Goliath situations people speak of. So we find it useful to talk to each other and work together when we can. We’ve met with our local MLA once, and his assistant took part in a meeting we had with the gas company Corridor Resources.
Landowners issues include the spills, the decommissioning, the noise and pollution, and the compensation. Corridor is telling us landowners that the government, this Alward government, has forced them to pay us less. We used to get a “production” bonus for each well in production. Corridor says that this government made them stop doing that. Some landowners negotiated their contracts based on getting this money.
So today when I heard Premier Alward, was coming to Penobsquis, I was interested in going to see him. After driving around for a bit this morning I finally found he was back on the Turkey Farm well pad where he was making an announcement (this wellpad owner now gets $6,000 less a year for this site and Corridor blames this on the Alward government). This wellpad is on the edge of Penobsquis. Yet only a stone’s throw from Alward’s great great uncle’s farm where I live – where I have invited him to come visit so he can see our well pad and hear the stories about the spills, about Corridor breaking the contract they first day they were on one well pad. How they dumped may loads of gravel on my then parents’ land due a survey error, and all kinds of other stories.
So I stood at the end of the public road, in front of my truck and held the only sign I had with me. One that lists the number of jobs created by gas and then conservation technologies and renewable technologies. The bus slowed, someone at the front waved. Then it went on. Our local MLA came behind a in his own bannered up vehicle and I admit I did something I am ashamed of – I gave him the finger. It hurts me that I have come to this and our democracy has come to this. That people will be voting on Monday without truth.
This industry is not without “incidents.” There are spills and accidents. And it does not create meaningful employment. Our well pad has five wells, and there is hardly ever anyone on site. And even when there is, there isn’t the 100 people that this government and industry say is the full-time jobs created by five wells.
We are lucky to live in a democracy. We are lucky that others worked hard and fought and died for our right to have it. When you vote next Monday–please ensure you are well informed. That you have heard all sides. Please ensure you are not our Premier who listens to industry, but ignores requests from regular average New Brunswickers to meet and discuss their issues – the other side of the story.