• (Personal Submission to Dr. Louis LaPierre and the Natural Gas Group, June 19 2012 Hillsborough, New Brunswick by Margo Sheppard)

     (Page 1 of 4)

    Dr. LaPierre and members of the Shale Gas Group, I would like to express my concern with shale gas development as informed by my experience assessing the environmental impacts of major infrastructure projects from both the proponent’s and regulator’s perspectives

     

    After twelve years in environmental assessment and policy in the Ontario government, I moved here and since 1996 have worked for the Nature Trust of New Brunswick, fourteen of which as Executive Director. I currently chair the Canadian Land Trust Alliance, an umbrella group for conservation trusts across this country. I am on the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Protected Natural Areas in New Brunswick because I care about the future of this province’s wild spaces and species. I speak as an individual, not as a representative of any group.

     

    “The waste of time, money and human energy that this shale gas misadventure has caused, when we should be focusing on clean, green, sustainable activities and business ventures to actually benefit New Brunswick and bring our children home”

     

    As a fresh-faced environmental planner back in the early 1980s, I studied and consulted the public on new highways. Walking pastoral landscapes I made lists of flora and fauna, knowing that a four-lane expressway would soon flatten it all. I assured people that the effects would be small; the forests and farms soon to be bisected would heal or just cease to be. The need for the highway, the sustainability of the highway or the urban sprawl and loss of countryside it caused I never questioned.

     

    How blithely my ministry paved over Class I agricultural land in the interest of cars and development; how irreverently we dismissed the public’s concerns-- about homes lost, villages split in two—mostly, as facilitators of this upheaval, in order to be able to sleep at night. To address the true impacts would have meant to listen to people and actually prevent the destruction before it started. From the perspective of today, how I wish I had questioned authority and challenged all we did. Alas I did not. I was a few years into an environmental planning career when I discovered my role was to simply minimize, or downplay the damage in the public’s eyes, not actually prevent it.

     

    That was in 1984; global population was 4.8 billion and C02 levels in the atmosphere were 340ppm. Environmental concern worldwide was growing, but there was not the vast store of scientific fact, understanding of the threats or their causes that we have today.

     

    “…but the lure of short-term profits, temporary jobs and delusions of budget surpluses militate that we proceed blindly down this path, unquestioning and uncritical of its folly”

     

    Fast forward to 2012, global population is 7 billion according to the United Nations and the C02 concentration in the atmosphere is close to 400ppm. The cumulative effects of 160 years of industrial activity supercharged by fossil fuels and unconstrained consumption have caught up with us in the form of climatic changes that are going to eclipse any remediation that could, but likely won’t, be administered. At least we now know how to avoid causing further harm, don’t we?

     

    Yet here we are tonight, discussing the merits of still another emissions-intensive fossil-fuel development: shale gas. Clearly we have learned nothing from our current predicament and past failures. Or perhaps we have learned, but the lure of short-term profits, temporary jobs and delusions of budget surpluses militate that we proceed blindly down this path, unquestioning and uncritical of its folly.

    I do not criticize the shale gas group. I criticize its political masters who, encouraged by industry representatives and growth advocates, are willing, no, eager, to sacrifice the clean environment and landscapes of New Brunswick to further their careers and twisted ideas of what it is to have true prosperity. The waste of time, money and human energy that this shale gas misadventure has caused, when we should be focusing on clean, green, sustainable activities and business ventures to actually benefit New Brunswick and bring our children home, is so huge it makes my head spin and my heart break. […]

     [Please Note: Download attachment Hillsborough Shale Gas Presentation]



  • Select Committee engages all New Brunswickers in growing the green economy

    FREDERICTON —
     Establishing a Select Committee on Climate Change is an excellent step toward engaging all New Brunswickers in the important work of growing our economy and protecting our communities from extreme weather and sea level rise.

    The Legislative Assembly voted unanimously in support of a motion to establish the all-party committee on Friday, April 9. The Conservation Council applauds the members of the House and looks forward to participating in this public process.

    “This is an opportunity to let all New Brunswickers get involved in the plan to move us smoothly and successfully toward a low-carbon economy,” says Executive Director Lois Corbett.

    Select committees are a way for government to include all New Brunswickers in the investigation of important subjects. Select committees report to all members of the legislative assembly and typically hold public hearings where citizens, government officials and expert witnesses are invited to appear.

    The motion, introduced by Environment Minister Brian Kenny, states: “The government recognizes that investing in clean technology solutions, especially in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cleaner energy production and use, holds great promise for sustainable economic development and long-term job creation.”

    It also recognizes climate change as the single most significant challenge of our generation, stating: “New Brunswick is already experiencing impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, extreme rainfall events, coastal and inland flooding, more coastal erosion, heat waves, some migration of invasive species, and diseases.”

    The motion asks the Select Committee to hold public consultations and gives it the power to meet, hold hearings, and release a report whether the House is sitting or not.

    While commending government for introducing the motion, Corbett urges legislators and committee members to move quickly on this important work. “The committee should focus on putting New Brunswick’s best foot forward as the federal government continues work on the national climate plan,” she says.

    “As Minister Kenny says in his motion, acting on the challenge of climate change won’t just protect us from the impacts communities are already experiencing — it’s the best course of action to create jobs in our province,” Corbett concludes.

    The Select Committee on Climate Change is composed of: Andrew Harvey (Lib), the Member for Carleton-Victoria; Bernard LeBlanc (Lib), the Member for Memramcook-Tantramar; Monique LeBlanc (Lib), the Member for Moncton East, John Ames (Lib), the Member for Charlotte-Campobello; Wilfred Roussel (Lib), the Member for Shippagan-Lamèque-Miscou, Jody Carr (PC), the Member for Oromocto- Lincoln, Brian Keirstead (PC), the Member for Albert; and David Coon (Green), the Member for Fredericton South.

    Read the motion here.
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    To arrange an interview, contact: Jon MacNeill, Communications. Officer: 458-8747; Cell: 261-1353; Email: jon.macneill@conservationcouncil.ca
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