• (Posted on behalf of the Taymouth Community Association)

    A Response to the New Brunswick Government’s White Paper on Recommendations
    To Govern the Development of Shale Gas From The Taymouth Community Association
    (Page 1 of 11)

    Forward
    We wish to make it clear at the start that we do not believe any regulation or current technology can make shale gas and oil extraction safe enough to justify its presence in New Brunswick, or elsewhere. Public consultation on the issue of shale gas extraction is critical, as the risks to health and economic and political well being touch every New Brunswicker.
    "We ask you to recognize us as the serious
    and intelligent citizens we are"
    Rural New Brunswickers who are careful observers of their surroundings provide useful perspectives on environmental health.Our proximity to Fredericton’s universities, government offices and scientific businesses means that we count among our residents highly qualified researchers in all the areas relevant to the issue of shale gas, including geologists, ecologists, hydrologists and more. Many, of course, have labored for us in anonymity, because of their fear that their jobs or businesses may suffer retribution.
    Our views have sometimes been characterized as mere ‘emotional’ responses. It is not the word ‘emotional’ that offends us, since one would be a fool not to have an emotional response to threats to one’s health, family, and way of life. It is the ‘mere’ part that is troubling our multigenerational experience with local land and water issues and the countless hours spent researching this issue by those of us with academic training. We ask you to recognize us as the serious and intelligent citizens we are. [...]

     
  • DR. ANTHONY INGRAFFEA TO SPEAK IN MONCTON ON NOV. 30 AND IN HAMPTON ON DEC. 1.

    The following includes an excerpt from the Nov. 2011 issue of Scientific American, in The Truth About Fracking.

    Dr. Anthony Ingraffea will be presenting in Moncton, November 30th at the Capitol Theatre and at Hampton High School on Thursday, Dec. 1st at 7:00 p.m.. He will explore myths and realities of large-scale development of unconventional natural gas resources.

    On a local scale, these concern geological aspects and the resulting use of directional drilling, high-volume, slickwater,hydraulic fracturing, multi-well pad arrangements and the impacts of these technologies on waste production and disposal. On a global scale, he will explore the cumulative impact on greenhouse gas loading of the atmosphere. Dr. Ingraffea is known for his clear and straight-forward explanations of these rather complex processes using visual displays and down to earth language.

    Dr. Ingraffea is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering and a Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University. He participated in research and development for the oil and gas industry for 25 years, specializing in hydraulic fracture simulation and pipeline safety and twice won the National Research Council/U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics Award for Research in Rock Mechanics.

    Dr. Ingraffea became a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1991; he became Co-Editor-in-Chief of Engineering Fracture Mechanics in 2005; he won ASTM’s George Irwin Award for outstanding research in fracture mechanics in 2006; and in 2009, he was named a Fellow of the International Congress on Fracture. Recently, he has been deeply engaged in informal education regarding the topic of this lecture with over 50 public presentations over the last year.

    This event is part of the Shale Gas Speaker Series and is sponsored by CCNB Action and New Brunswick Shale Gas Alliance Member Groups throughout the Province.
    This is a unique opportunity to become well informed about the most controversial issue facing New Brunswickers today.

    Contact info:

    Carl Wolpin: crwolpin@xplornet.com 832-7827

    Chris Rendell: appsolca@yahoo.ca 832-4660
  • October 11, 2011 Hampton NB -- Hampton Town Council received a standing ovation this evening after they voted unanimously to reject Windsor Energy’s request to allow thumper trucks to conduct seismic testing within town limits.

    Thanksgiving dinner plans with families were interrupted for many Hampton residents on Sunday when geophone equipment used for seismic testing was discovered along a lengthy stretch of Highway One, including within the Town of Hampton and Town of Quispamsis limits. The thumper trucks were also parked nearby and were set to go.

    Windsor Energy previously made a request to Hampton Town Council to allow thumper trucks within town limits. They were notified council would make a decision at their regular council meeting this evening. Permission had not been granted by the town, yet the company appeared ready to start seismic testing without the required approval.

    Hampton residents quickly organized a peaceful demonstration at the Town of Hampton – It’s Our Nature sign on Highway One this afternoon. Approximately 70 people participated in the demonstration to show Windsor Energy they did not have permission to conduct seismic testing. During the demonstration, protestors received word the company had decided not to “thump” the section of highway going through Hampton.

    However seismic testing did take place along Highway One within Quispamsis Town limits on Monday without their councilors or mayor’s knowledge or permission.

    Hampton Council Chambers were overflowing this evening with town residents concerned about seismic testing taking place within their community. Carl Wolpin from the group Hampton Water First, addressed council to thank them for supporting the moratorium on shale gas exploration at the recent provincial meeting of New Brunswick Municipalities. This was met with a standing ovation and drawn out applause from those in attendance.

    Council member Peter Behr moved that Windsor Energy’s request be denied stating that he received a great deal of feedback from community residents. Not a single person he spoke with was supportive of seismic testing. He went on to say that since he was elected to represent the people, it was the right thing to deny the request. The motion was quickly seconded. One of the councilors noted that although they do not have control over what happens in the rest of the province, they do have control over what happens within Hampton town limits.

     

    Contact:  Hampton Water First

     

    Carl Wolpin:  crwolpin@xplornet.com  832-7827

     

    Chris Rendell:  appsolca@yahoo.ca 832-4660

  • [Letter to Editor, The Daily Gleaner October 26 2012]

    LaPierre Report Is More Opinion Than Science

     

    I take issue with the recent Gleaner editorial – In our view: Shale gas report is a welcome dose of rationality, science.

     

    First, I don’t see the report itself as any kind of science. There are no references included and the main content of the report does not even accurately reflect the conclusions.

     

    Even a high school science report must include references and have a conclusion that consolidates the information in the body of the report. All one has to do is compare the Cleary health report, with Dr. LaPierre’s, to see how a credible science based government report should be written.

     

    Second, just like our government, the conclusion does not propose any alternatives to not going down the boom bust fossil fuel path. These alternatives were briefly mentioned in the body of the report and talked about by many at the public sessions.

     

    Some of the most successful countries in the world are well on the way to a successful carbon free sustainable economy. It is only a matter of time before every jurisdiction will need to go down this path as fossil fuels – by definition – will not last forever. Early adopters will be in the advantaged position of being world leaders that others will come to as they try to catch up.

     

    Third, we still have no proof that there are any financial benefits to New Brunswickers (or anyone for that matter) for going down this path. The government has no business plan for this industry that considers all the costs including regulation, health and social costs. We have no clue if the revenue potential will cover all of the costs. This is remarkable considering the business approach that is being used to rationalize continual government cost cutting.  

     

    Until this costing is done do we want to spend any more public dollars on something that may very well cost us big? A credible report would task the government with first costing this industry before any more development dollars are spent.

     

    I therefore do not consider Dr. LaPierre’s report to be either rational or scientific.

    Garth Hood
    Fredericton

  • NB Groups Want The Provincial Government To Heed Their Message
    For Immediate Release
    September 16, 2011

    Moncton -- On Saturday, September 17, the anti-shale gas network of citizens have planned
    another march for New Brunswickers to say “NO!” to shale gas in the downtown core of
    Moncton.

    More than 2 dozen groups from around the province, from places like Cornhill, Sackville,
    Taymouth and Hampton, recently announced the network they’ve formed to stop shale gas
    development in New Brunswick, and their next step is to hold another rally to continue sending
    their message to the provincial government that the shale gas industry is not welcome here.

    This grassroots movement has committed itself to informing their fellow New Brunswickers of
    the dangers of shale gas. “It’s shameful that our government has not honestly engaged and
    informed its citizens of the dangers of this industry,” says Debra Hopper, a spokesperson for Our
    Environment, Our Choice, Notre Environnement, Notre Choix. “We have an intelligent group
    here. We have done our homework; now the government needs to do the same. It has been
    reading off of cheat sheets provided by industry. The same tired lines that we’re all sick of
    hearing. The people of New Brunswick have a right to know what we are really facing.”

    “We ask that our government do its job in protecting our life sustaining resources against an
    industry that is advancing at an accelerated rate and that threatens our quality of life for
    generations to come. Once the damages are done, there is no return,” says Patricia Léger,
    spokesperson for Memramcook Action. “We cannot expect industry to warn us of the dangers of
    this toxic method of extracting natural gas and our government seems to only be listening to
    industry.”

    In our ongoing effort to get the facts about the dangers of shale gas drilling out into the open, a
    second march is being held this time in Moncton.  It will begin at 12:00 noon at the Hal Betts
    Ball Fields – Moncton SportPlex, located at 250 Assomption Blvd at the corner of Vaughn
    Harvey. Protesters will march along Vaughn Harvey Blvd, and down Main Street before
    congregating at Moncton City Hall, next to SWN Offices.  We invite all water drinkers and air
    breathers to join us in our PEACEFUL display of democracy in action. 

    At City Hall, there will be speakers from various groups and communities from across the
    province, including the Youth Environmental Action Network, Elsipogtog First Nation, Friends
    of Mount Carleton, the Maliseet Grand Council, and Ban Fracking NB. 

    Media Contacts:
    Our Environment, Our Choice, Notre Envrionnement, Notre Choix, Denise Melanson: 523-9467
    Quality of Life Initiative, Otty Forgrave: 839-2326
    CCNB Action, Stephanie Merrill: 261-8317
    Ban Fracking NB, Terri Telasco: 866-7658
    New Brunswickers Against Fracking, Mary de La Valette: 369-1995
    Council of Canadians, St. John Chapter, Carol Ring: 847-0953
    Grand Lake Watershed Guardians, Amy Sullivan: 339-1980 or 339-5324
    Sierra Club Atlantic, Hazel Richardson: 452-8915

  • NEWS RELEASE -Council of Canadians, Fredericton, NB Chapter, 25 February 2013

    NewShale Gas Rules A Red Herring Diverting From Real Issue

    FREDERICTON – Rather than paving the way for the government plans, the new rules for the oil and gas industry released on Friday, February 15th 2013 by Ministers Leonard and Fitch are becoming the object of a growing controversy.Today, 17 community groups came to the same conclusion that the new rules are a red herring trying to deflect attention from the worrying fact that they have ruled out a moratorium on shale gas based on false claims.

    “Moreover, the media have a duty to prevent government from deceiving the public. It is high time to set the record straight”

    In a statement made November 28th, 2012 in the Legislature about the future of the oil and gas industry in New Brunswick, Energy Minister Leonard claimed that both Dr. LaPierre’s and Dr. Cleary’s reports came to the same conclusion – a moratorium on shale gas exploration is neither required nor desirable in New Brunswick.

    “This claim is fraudulent”, affirms Dr. Castilla, a member of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians and Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary. “The remarks about a moratorium appearing in the conclusion section of Dr. LaPierre's report do not stem from the content of his report or the input he received from the public. Rather, they are based on fallacious arguments such that a moratorium is incompatible with a science-based approach and would leave undefined the issues. But then how can a moratorium ever finish if the issues that prompted it are not defined?” asks Dr. Castilla.

    “The remarks about a moratorium appearing in the conclusion section of Dr. LaPierre's report do not stem from the content of his report…”

    “We also have to remember that Dr. LaPierre is a Director of NB Power, which has expressed interest in converting to natural gas some of its power generating stations. Hence it is possible that the flaws in his reasoning are intentional”, speculated Dr. Castilla. “In any case, when someone tells you that a report came to this or that conclusion, you expect something that follows from the report itself and not from a personal opinion which on top of that is biased”, explained Dr. Castilla.

    “Even more striking is the misrepresentation of the conclusions of Dr. Cleary’s report, which does not even contain the word moratorium. How can you reach a conclusion on something you don’t even mention?” Dr. Castilla asks.

    “The misrepresentation of Dr. Cleary’s report is clearly intentional”

    “The misrepresentation of Dr. Cleary’s report is clearly intentional”, argues Mark D’Arcy, a spokesperson for the Friends of the UNB Woodlot. “On November 30, 2012 I sent an email to Mr. Leonard bringing to his attention the falsehood of his claim and asking him to publicly retract from it, but he never got back to me. This is very relevant, because this claim is a center piece in the government’s rationale to move ahead with shale gas”, Mr. D’Arcy continued. “Moreover, the media have a duty to prevent government from deceiving the public. It is high time to set the record straight”, concluded Mr. D’Arcy.

    The Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians and 16 organizations and community association across New Brunswick are demanding that the case for a moratorium be reopened and revised by an independent panel of scientists with no conflict of interest with industry.

  •  NEWS RELEASE - Council of Canadians, Fredericton N.B. Chapter, 21 February 2013

     

    New shale gas rules put the cart before the horse

    FREDERICTON– The new rules for the oil and gas industry released on Friday, February 15th 2013 by Ministers Leonard and Fitch are starting to backfire on the government.Today, 17 community groups all agreed that the Alward government is putting the cart before the horse by hastily moving the shale gas file ahead without having obtained or sought the consent of Aboriginal Peoples and the rest of the people in New Brunswick.

    "There is growing scientific and anecdotal evidence that shale gas extraction is an activity that can potentially cause significant harm”

    “Premier Alward’s claim that New Brunswickers had their say on the issue during the 2010 provincial election is stretching the truth”, commented Dr Jean Louis Deveau, a social scientist and chair of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians. “Shale gas and hydraulic fracturing were never mentioned in the PC Party platform. The PC’s statement was that they would support the responsible expansion of the natural gas sector in New Brunswick. This cannot be taken as a carte blanche for developing a shale gas industry”, asserts Dr Deveau. “The government has the responsibility of protecting the public from environmental harm. There is growing scientific and anecdotal evidence that shale gas extraction is an activity that can potentially cause significant harm. Ignoring this responsibility by moving ahead without having thoroughly assessed the risks and without a credible business case cannot possibly be called ‘responsible’; therefore their current plans cannot be reconciled with their 2010 platform statement”, concluded Dr. Deveau.

    “We maintain that proper duty to consult with Aboriginal Peoples has not been executed and so this development cannot proceed under Canada's own rule-of-law”

    “Our Government has never held public meetings to consult with their constituents about the decision to move ahead with shale gas, even though they have been requested to do so”, argues Jim Emberger of the Taymouth Community Association. “Oil& Gas companies like SWN Resources have been by with open houses, and Dr LaPierre toured the province asking for feedback about an earlier version of the new rules, but this marketing exercise and Dr LaPierre’s pro forma consultation, where no elected officials were present, are no substitutes for a meaningful two-way consultative process.”

    “Our Government has never held public meetings to consult with their constituents about the decision to move ahead with shale gas even though they have been requested to do so”

    Consent from Aboriginal Peoples could even be a harder nut to crack for the Alward government. “We maintain that proper duty to consult with Aboriginal Peoples has not been executed and so this development cannot proceed under Canada's own rule-of-law”, emphasized Brian Francis, spokesperson for the Sikniktuk Mi'kmaq Rights Coalition.

    "The government of New Brunswick does not have the free, prior, and informed consent of the Maliseet People to explore, license or mine for shale gas"

    "The government of New Brunswick does not have the free, prior, and informed consent of the Maliseet People to explore, license or mine for shale gas", asserted Alma Brooks of the Maliseet Grand Council. Chief Candice Paul of the Saint Mary’s First Nation is even more stringent: “Under our Peace and Friendship Treaty, we have not ceded any land. We have not given up title to any land in this Treaty area. So, this is the basis from where we need to talk before anyone can move ahead with any type of resource development in the province of New Brunswick”, she said shortly after Minister Leonard’s and Fitch’s press conference.

  • (Letter available for download here. Ici en Francais)

    Fredericton, February 27 2013

    Honourable Craig Leonard
    Energy and Mines Minister

    CC:
    Honourable Bruce Fitch, Environment and Local Government Minister
    Honourable David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick
     
    Dear Minister Leonard,
     
    We are a group of 29 associations, organizations and unions representing [tens of] thousands of New Brunswickers, rural and urban; Anglophone, Francophone and Aboriginal.
     

     
    "Your release of new rules for the oil and gas industry on February 15 2013 presumes that you have a mandate from the public"
     
     
    Your release of new rules for the oil and gas industry on February 15 2013 presumes that you have a mandate from the public. We believe that you have no such mandate and are not entitled to release these rules or take any further steps to proceed with the extraction of shale gas in New Brunswick. We base our claim on the following REASONS:
     
     
    “Shale gas and hydraulic fracturing were never mentioned in your Party‘s 2010 electoral platform”

     
     
    (1) Shale gas and hydraulic fracturing were never mentioned in your Party‘s 2010 electoral platform. You cannot claim that your voters were aware that you were using the term ‘natural gas’ as a synonym for the above.


    (2) You have a responsibility to protect the public from environmental harm. There is growing scientific and anecdotal evidence that shale gas extraction is an activity that can potentially cause significant harm. Therefore, you cannot allow such activity until the risks are fully assessed. Such assessment can be done without exposing the public to the actual risks, which is what you are in fact doing by allowing exploration and drilling. Ignoring your responsibility to protect the public cannot possibly be called ‘responsible’. Therefore, your current plans cannot be reconciled with the statement in your 2010 platform that you will “support the responsible expansion of the natural gas sector in New Brunswick”.
     

    “You have a responsibility to protect the public from environmental harm”
     
     
    (3) The two points above clearly show you do not have a mandate to renew existing licenses related to shale gas exploration or drilling, or to grant new ones. We believe doing so is undemocratic and irresponsible, for the aforementioned reasons.
     
     (4) You have never held public meetings to consult with your constituents about the decision to move ahead with shale gas, even though you have been requested to do so. Shale gas licensees have conducted open houses, and you hired Dr. LaPierre to solicit feedback on an earlier version of the new rules. However, industry marketing exercises and Dr. LaPierre’s pro forma consultation, where no elected officials were present, are no substitutes for a meaningful two-way consultative process.
     
     
    “You do not have a mandate to renew existing licenses related to shale gas exploration or drilling, or to grant new ones”
     
     
    (5) You do not have the free, prior, and informed consent of the First Nations in this province to explore, license or mine for shale gas, which is a requirement under Canada's own rule-of-law.
     
     
    “You have never held public meetings to consult with your constituents about the decision to move ahead with shale gas”
     
     
    (6) You have ruled out a moratorium on shale gas based on false claims. Specifically, in your Statement to the Legislative Assembly on the future of the oil and gas industry in New Brunswick made on November 28th 2012, you claimed that both Dr. LaPierre’s and Dr. Cleary’s reports came to the same conclusion – a moratorium on shale gas exploration is neither required nor desirable in New Brunswick. This claim has no basis in fact, as shown in the next three points.
     
     
    "Consult on the question of whether the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples of New Brunswick want the shale gas industry to operate within provincial boundaries"
     
     
    (7) You did not give a mandate to Dr. LaPierre to make recommendations on a moratorium on shale gas. We understand this decision, since we perceive he may be in a conflict of interest on this subject, given he is a Director of NB Power. The latter has expressed interest in converting some power generation facilities to natural gas and hence has a vested interest in the development of a local shale gas industry.
     
     
    “You have ruled out a moratorium on shale gas based on false claims”
     
     
    (8) Yet Dr. LaPierre created his own, ethically questionable, mandate and ruled out a moratorium on shale gas, and you made his conclusion yours. You seemingly did not pay attention to the fact that he did not derive such conclusion from the content of his report or the input he received from the public. Rather, he derived it from fallacious arguments such as that a moratorium is incompatible with a science-based approach and would leave the issues undefined. Therefore, you cannot claim that his report came to that conclusion, or that the conclusion is based on sound evidence or perceived public will. The conclusion is rather Dr. LaPierre’s biased and flawed personal opinion.
     
     
    “Any inferred comment on a moratorium was not the intention or the point of my report”

    - Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eilish Cleary

     
     
    (9) Dr. Cleary’s report drew no conclusions on a moratorium, and does not even contain the word ‘moratorium’. When asked about this, Dr. Cleary has stated that “any inferred comment on a moratorium was not the intention or the point of my report”. Furthermore, some of us brought to your attention the falsehood of your claim about Dr. Cleary’s report and asked you to retract it, a demand that you ignored. Therefore you cannot claim you were not aware of this misrepresentation.
     
     
    “You have not substantiated your claim that the benefits for the people of New Brunswick will outweigh the risks you intend to subject them to”

     
     
    (10) You have not substantiated your claim that the benefits for the people of New Brunswick will outweigh the risks you intend to subject them to. The experience of people living in various shale plays across North America is that the purported benefits do not trickle down to the society at large, while extensive environmental, health and social problems do.
     
     
    Considering the above, we DEMAND that your government:
     
    (1) Bring the following to an immediate stop: ongoing shale gas exploration, the granting of any new licenses for exploration or wells, and the renewal of existing ones.
     
    (2) Reopen the case for a moratorium and commission an independent panel of scientists with no conflict of interest with industry to review it.
     
    (3) Apologize to the public for the false claims ruling out a moratorium and publicly retract them.
     
    (4) Consult on the question of whether the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples of New Brunswick want the shale gas industry to operate within provincial boundaries. We believe the consultative process should not start until (i) the risks are fully assessed; and (ii) a credible scenario-based business case is developed to assess potential benefits.
     
    We kindly ask that you reply promptly and publicly to this letter.
     
    Respectfully,
     
    29 organizations, associations and unions of New Brunswick

    (please see alphabetical list below)

     
     
    Canadian Union of Public Employees New Brunswick (CUPE NB)
    CCNB Action
    Citizens Coalition for Clean Air
    Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis
    Council of Canadians – Saint John Chapter
    Council of Canadians – Fredericton Chapter
    Darlings Island Fracking Intervention Naguwigewauk
    ecoFredericton Sustainable Living Inc.
    Fredericton & District Labour Council
    Friends of Mount Carleton
    Friends of the UNB Woodlot
    Hampton Water First
    Maliseet Grand Council
    Memramcook Action
    New Brunswickers Against Fracking
    New Brunswick Senior Citizens Federation
    National Farmers Union New Brunswick (NFU NB)
    Notre Environnement, Notre Choix
    Parents Against Everyday Poisons
    Penniac Anti-Shale Gas Organization
    Quality of Life Initiative
    Sierra Club Atlantic
    Sikniktuk Mi'kmaq Rights Coalition
    Stanley Area Action Group
    Taymouth Community Association
    Tantramar Alliance Against Hydrofracking
    Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance
    Upriver Environment Watch
    Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County
  • (Posted on behalf of the Taymouth Community Association)

    A Response to the New Brunswick Government’s White Paper on Recommendations

    To Govern the Development of Shale Gas From The Taymouth Community Association

     

    (Page 11 of 11)

    Our Remaining Important Questions

     

    The government’s position has been that it is okay to continue exploration, because if we find shale gas development to be unsafe for either the people or the environment, we can simply stop it at that point. SWN had a three-year license to explore during which it pledged to spend $47 million dollars. The government recently passed a new regulation to grant them extensions of that license.
    "If a large portion of the medical profession in
    the province… says it is not safe to continue…
    can they be overridden by a political decision?"
    It is hard for us to conceive that after allowing the company to explore for 5 years and spend $47 million dollars that the government would say, ‘Sorry SWN, we don’t think it’s safe, you’ll have to go.’ Even if the government did say that, we suspect the action would be followed by costly lawsuits and extreme damage to the province’s reputation.
    The only sane approach is for a moratorium or ban to be started immediately before industry invests millions more. However, if the government wants to persist in what many consider a reckless policy, we want to know several things:

     

    - First, what will be the legal instrument used to deny leases to companies who have lawfully fulfilled their license agreements?

    - Secondly, who will decide on what is safe, what will be the decision-making process and who will provide the criteria to decide the standard of ‘safeness’?

    - Will the entire decision making process by open to public comment?

    - If a large portion of the medical profession in the province, backed by other medical societies around the world and supported by studies, says it is not safe to continue, given their commitment to the ethic of “first do no harm”, can they be overridden by a political decision?

    - What percentage of leaking gas wells or water well contaminations will our ‘safety standards’ allow as ‘acceptable’? How will that be decided?

    - If local communities have different conceptions of what is safe, what can they do?

    We need answers to these basic questions before we can give any serious consideration to the government’s current position.

     

     

     

  • (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]

  • PRESS RELEASE

    For Immediate Release        November 17, 2011

    Shale Gas Protest March and Rallies in Fredericton November 19th and 23rd

     

    FREDERICTON NB ---- A march and two rallies at the Provincial Legislature will take place on November 19th and November 23rd to protest unconventional shale gas development in New Brunswick.
    Citizens and community groups from throughout New Brunswick will converge on Fredericton on Saturday, November 19th and at the opening session of the New Brunswick Legislature on Wednesday, November 23rd with their message to the Alward Government that the exploration and extraction of natural gas from shale using horizontal drilling in combination with slick water hydraulic fracturing will not be tolerated.

    New Brunswickers from all over the province denounce the development of an unconventional shale gas industry. The process used to extract unconventional shale gas is less than 20 years old. It is the undisputed cause of ecological damage and long-term economic net debt, earthquakes, air and noise pollution, infrastructure degradation and the profligate use and irreversible poisoning of trillions of litres of fresh water. It leaves deleterious impacts on the lives and health of humans and other animals in its wake.

    “The civic duty of New Brunswick residents does not require that they be guinea pigs in anyone's science experiments”, states Jim Emberger, spokesperson for the Taymouth Community Association.

    The promise of large-scale job creation appears over-exaggerated. In a recent presentation at the University of New Brunswick on October 22, 2011, Mr. Calvin Tillman, former mayor of Dish, Texas mentioned that since this industry requires highly skilled workers, most will be imported from outside the province to enable the industry to be more competitive at a time when stock market prices for natural gas are low.

    Events on Saturday, November 19th will begin at 7:00 am with a Sunrise Ceremony at the Old Burial Grounds at 51 Woodstock Road. At 10:00 am there will be a benefit concert at the Old Burial Grounds for the people of Penobsquis. A march to the Provincial Legislature will begin after the concert, starting at 11:00 am.

    Sixty residents in Penobsquis have lost their well water and have experienced ground subsidence allegedly from the industrialization of their rural community. Some who want to move away have been unable to sell their homes. We ask, where is justice for the people of Penobsquis? Will regulations serve anyone when more things go wrong? A point made clear in the recent documentary by Rob Turgeon, ‘Be... Without Water’. (www.youtube.com/user/robfturgeon#p/a/u/1/aK0NMTMXHSw)

    Events on Wednesday, November 23rd are scheduled to begin at the Provincial Legislature at 12:00 noon. A program with music and speakers will begin at 1:00 pm.

     

    Media Contacts:

    Jean Louis Deveau 506 442 1413 jlpdev@nbnet.nb.ca     

    Julia Linke 506 367 0987 linkejul@gmail.com

    Terry Wishart 506 238 4001 t.wishart@banfrackingnb.ca

    _________________________________________________

    COMMUNIQUÉ

    Pour publication immédiate                              17 novembre 2011

    Marche et rassemblements contre les gaz de schiste à Fredericton les 19 et 23 novembre

    FREDERICTON NB — Une marche et deux rassemblements devant l’Assemblée législative auront lieu les 19 et 23 novembre pour protester contre l’exploitation non traditionnelle des gaz de schiste au Nouveau-Brunswick.

    Des citoyens et des groupes communautaires de toutes les régions du Nouveau-Brunswick se réuniront à Fredericton le samedi 19 novembre et lors de la séance d’ouverture de l’Assemblée législative du Nouveau-Brunswick le mercredi 23 novembre pour livrer leur message à l’administration Alward que l’exploration et l’exploitation du gaz naturel des schistes en utilisant le forage horizontal avec des fluides de fracturation ne seront pas tolérées. Les Néobrunswickois de toute la province dénoncent l’exploitation non conventionnelle des gaz de schiste par l’industrie. Le processus utilisé pour extraire les gaz a moins de 20 ans. Et il est la cause non contestée de dégâts écologiques, de dettes économiques nettes à long terme, de tremblements de terre, de pollution atmosphérique et sonore, de dégradation des infrastructures et de l’utilisation immodérée d’eau et de l’empoisonnement irréversible de trillions de litres d’eau douce. Par ailleurs, cette industrie laisse dans son sillage des impacts nuisibles sur la vie et la santé des humains et des autres animaux.

    « Le devoir civique des résidents du Nouveau-Brunswick n’exige pas qu’ils servent de cobaye pour les expériences scientifiques, » affirme Jim Emberger, porte-parole de l’Association communautaire de Taymouth.

    Les promesses de créations d’emplois à grande échelle semblent très exagérées. Dans sa récente présentation à l’université du Nouveau-Brunswick le 22 octobre dernier, monsieur Calvin Tillman, ancien maire de Dish au Texas a mentionné qu’étant donné que cette industrie a besoin de travailleurs hautement qualifiés, la plupart d’entre eux proviendront de l’extérieur de la province afin de permettre aux opérations d’être plus compétitives au moment où les prix sur le marché du gaz naturel sont bas.

    Les évènements de samedi 19 novembre vont commencer à 7 heures avec une cérémonie du lever du soleil au vieux cimetière situé au 51 Woodstock Road. À 10 heures, il y aura un concert au bénéfice des citoyens de Penobsquis. La marche vers l’Assemblée législative commencera après le concert à 11 heures au même endroit.

    En effet, soixante résidents de Penobsquis ont perdu l’eau de leur puits et ont subi des affaissements de terrain après l’industrialisation de leur collectivité rurale. Certains qui ont voulu déménager ailleurs n’ont pas été capables de vendre leur maison. Nous demandons, où se trouve la justice pour les habitants de Penobsquis? Est-ce que des règlementations vont servir à qui que ce soit lorsque d’autres choses tourneront mal? Un récent documentaire par Rob Turgeon donne une réponse très claire :

    « Vivez...sans eau » (www.youtube.com/user/robfturgeon#p/a/u/1/aK0NMTMXHSw)

    Les évènements de mercredi 23 novembre débuteront à l’Assemblée législative à midi. Un
    ensemble d’évènements avec musique et conférenciers débutera à 13 heures.

     

    Personnes-ressources pour les médias :

    Jean Louis Deveau 506 442 1413 jlpdev@nbnet.nb.ca

    Julia Linke 506 367 0987 linkejul@gmail.com

    Terry Wishart 506 238 4001 t.wishart@banfrackingnb.ca

  • PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release November 22, 2011

    Shale Gas Protest Rally in Fredericton November 23rd

    FREDERICTON NB ---- A rally at the Provincial Legislature will take place on November 23rd to protest unconventional shale gas development in New Brunswick.

    Citizens and community groups from throughout New Brunswick will converge on Fredericton on Wednesday, November 23rd at the opening session of the New Brunswick Legislature with their message to the Alward Government that the exploration and extraction of natural gas from shale using horizontal drilling in combination with slick water hydraulic fracturing will not be tolerated.

    Members of CUPE locals from throughout the province will be joining industry opponents in solidarity on Wednesday. At their November 3rd 2011 National Convention, CUPE adopted Resolution No.96, which expressly states that all levels of government must put an end to shale gas development because the industry, “has failed to demonstrate that such development would not have serious consequences for the environment and the health of citizens”; and governments being “clearly unprepared for this issue, and have done a poor job of responding to public concerns”.

    New Brunswickers from all over the province denounce the development of an unconventional shale gas industry. The process used to extract unconventional shale gas is less than 20 years old. It is the undisputed cause of ecological damage and long-term economic net debt, earthquakes, air and noise pollution, infrastructure degradation and the profligate use and irreversible poisoning of trillions of litres of fresh water. It leaves deleterious impacts on the lives and health of humans and other animals in its wake.

    “The civic duty of New Brunswick residents does not require that they be guinea pigs in anyone's science experiments”, states Jim Emberger, spokesperson for the Taymouth Community Association.

    The promise of large-scale job creation appears over-exaggerated. In a recent presentation at the University of New Brunswick on October 22, 2011, Mr. Calvin Tillman, former mayor of Dish, Texas mentioned that since this industry requires highly skilled workers, most will be imported from outside the province to enable the industry to be more competitive at a time when stock market prices for natural gas are low.

    Sixty residents in Penobsquis have lost their well water and have experienced ground subsidence allegedly from potash mining and the added burden of shale gas drilling in their rural community. Some who want to move away have been unable to sell their homes. We ask, where is justice for the people of Penobsquis? Will regulations serve anyone when more things go wrong? A point made clear in the recent documentary by Rob Turgeon, ‘Be… Without Water’. (www.youtube.com/user/robfturgeon#p/a/u/1/aK0NMTMXHSw)

    Events on Wednesday, November 23rd are scheduled to begin with a gathering at the Provincial Legislature at 12:00 noon. A program with music and speakers will begin at 12:45 pm.

    Media Contacts:
    Jean Louis Deveau 506 442 1413 jlpdev@nbnet.nb.ca

    Julia Linke 506 367 0987 linkejul@gmail.com

    Terry Wishart 506 238 4001 t.wishart@banfrackingnb.ca

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Pour publication immédiate COMMUNIQUÉ 22 novembre 2011

    Rassemblement contre les gaz de schiste à Fredericton le 23 novembre

    FREDERICTON NB − Un rassemblement aura lieu à l’Assemblée législative demain le 23 novembre afin de protester contre l’exploitation des gaz de schiste au Nouveau-Brunswick.

    Des citoyennes et des citoyens ainsi que des groupes communautaires de l’ensemble du Nouveau-Brunswick convergeront vers Fredericton à l’ouverture de la Législature du Nouveau-Brunswick demain mercredi le 23 novembre pour signifier à l’administration Alward que l’exploration et l’extraction des gaz naturels en utilisant le forage horizontal avec des fluides de fracturation sous pression ne seront pas tolérées.

    Les membres des sections locales de toute la province du SCFP se joindront en solidarité à ceux qui s’opposent à l’exploitation des gaz de schiste. Lors de leur Convention nationale le 3 novembre dernier, ils ont adopté la résolution 96, qui déclare expressément à tous les niveaux de gouvernement que l’on doit mettre fin à l’exploitation des gaz de schiste parce que cette industrie « a failli de démontrer que de telles entreprises n’auraient pas de conséquences graves sur l’environnement et sur la santé de la population, » et que les gouvernements « sont manifestement mal préparés devant cet enjeu et qu’ils n’ont pas réussi à répondre aux préoccupations de la population. »

    Les NéoBrunswickois de toute la province dénoncent le développement non conventionnel de l’industrie des gaz de schiste. Le processus utilisé pour extraire les gaz de schiste non conventionnels a moins de 20 ans. Et il est la cause non contestée de dégâts écologiques, de tremblements de terre, de pollution atmosphérique, de pollution par le bruit, de dégradation des infrastructures et de l’utilisation immodérée et de l’empoisonnement irréversible de trillions de litres d’eau douce. Elle laisse dans son sillage des impacts nuisibles pour la vie des humains et des autres animaux.

    « Le devoir civique des résidents du Nouveau-Brunswick n’exige pas qu’ils servent de cobaye pour les expériences scientifiques de qui que ce soit, » affirme Jim Emberger, porte-parole de l’Association communautaire de Taymouth.

    Les promesses de créations d’emplois à grande échelle semblent très exagérées. Dans sa récente présentation à l’université du Nouveau-Brunswick le 22 octobre dernier, monsieur Calvin Tillman, ancien maire de Dish au Texas a mentionné qu’étant donné que cette industrie a besoin de travailleurs hautement qualifiés, la plupart d’entre eux proviendront de l’extérieur de la province afin de permettre aux opérations d’être plus compétitives au moment où les prix en bourse du gaz naturel sont bas.

    En effet, la collectivité de Penobsquis a perdu (60) puits et sources depuis plusieurs années. Les plateformes de forage pour les gaz de schiste qui contribuent au fonctionnement des processus de la mine de potasse sont dispersées dans les pâturages et les coteaux à l’amont de la Kennebecasis. Nous demandons, où se trouve la justice pour les habitants de Penobsquis? Est-ce que des règlementations vont servir qui que ce soit lorsque d’autres choses tournent mal? Un récent documentaire par Rob Turgeon donne une réponse très claire : « Vivez…sans eau » (www.youtube.com/user/robfturgeon#p/a/u/1/aK0NMTMXHSw)

    Les évènements de demain mercredi 23 novembre débuteront à midi lors du rassemblement devant l’Assemblée législative provinciale. Un programme de musique et de conférenciers suivra à midi et 45.

    Contacts pour les médias:
    Jean Louis Deveau 506 442 1413 jlpdev@nbnet.nb.ca

    Julia Linke 506 367 0987 linkejul@gmail.com

    Terry Wishart 506 238 4001 t.wishart@banfrackingnb.ca
  •  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    NEWS RELEASE,  JULY 24, 2012

    Ward 10 Residents Request for Shale Gas Consultation Meeting Shut Down

    Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada – Provincial government officials deny local grassroots residents group request for participation in province wide information and consultation process on shale gas development in New Brunswick.

    On June 28th a letter was signed by many residents attending a crowded Ward 10 Residents Association meeting in Fredericton.  The letter responded to concerns by many residents that they were not being sufficiently informed and consulted on shale gas development as originally promised by Premier Alward in recent speeches and the election.

    "Over the last several months, Fredericton residents, including those in Ward 10, have expressed concerns about not having been invited to participate in a meaningful conversation about the development and regulation of a shale gas industry in New Brunswick,” said Leah Levac, Fredericton city councillor for Ward 10. “In my conversations with residents, many have expressed a desire to receive more information about the province's plans regarding shale gas development so that they can develop an informed opinion on the matter". 

    The letter asked, "Dr. Louis LaPierre and the Natural Gas Group to meet with the Ward 10 Residents Association in Fredericton (before the end of July 2012) so our residents can be informed on shale gas regulations and have a voice in this important process.”

    The following morning, the letter was mailed and emailed to the Natural Gas Group as well as copied to provincial and city politicians. On July 20th, the Ward 10 Residents Association was told that it could meet with Dr. LaPierre and the Natural Gas Group for 20 minutes. The group was also told that it would have to share the 20 minutes with the Friends of the UNB Woodlot, and that no more than three Ward 10 residents were allowed to participate.

    The group feels that attempts to respond to Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup's announcement which read, “we look forward to hearing from New Brunswickers [during Dr. LaPierre's consultation]” (press release), and to his open invitation to any “groups or associations” to meet with LaPierre and the Natural Gas Group are being undermined.

    “The shale gas public consultation tour missed a majority of our population by not even going to Moncton, Saint John or Fredericton,” said Ward 10 resident Taeyon Kim.  “How can even three Ward 10 residents make any informed decision in 20 minutes shared with another group?”

    The Ward 10 Residents Association will only participate in a consultation process that is democratic and transparent.  On October 3rd 2011 David Alward gave a speech to the Moncton Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Greater Moncton on shale gas development and the importance of public information and consultation on this issue.  Mr Alward referred to “town hall and information meetings” where MLAs could “hear directly from their constituents on this important issue.”  Later in the speech he added, “It’s a discussion we as New Brunswickers all need to have.”

    “I met with my MLA, Brian MacDonald, and he agreed with our request for a meeting with the Natural Gas Group, that allows residents to become fully informed and consulted on shale gas development in New Brunswick,” said Ward 10 resident Garth Hood.  “He said he would do everything within his power to help us get this public meeting.”

    The association fully agrees with Mr. Alward that, “It’s a discussion that we as New Brunswickers all need to have.” The association does not agree that Ward 10 residents have been given any open and democratic public opportunity for informed discussion. This is why the Ward 10 Residents Association is repeating the original request:

    The Ward 10 Residents Association requests that Dr. LaPierre and the Natural Gas Group hold a public meeting within Fredericton so all residents can be fully informed and consulted on shale gas development in New Brunswick.

    Posted For Ward 10 Residents Association

    Media Contact: Taeyon Kim frederictonward10residents@gmail.com

  • Published in the Telegraph Journal April 29, 2013

    Original title “Our Energy Dilemma.”

    Title below used by the editor

    Why Extreme Energy Won’t Last

    Keith Helmuth

    The historical facts of our energy situation are clear. Since the early days of the 20th Century the development of modern societies has been based on a huge injection of hydrocarbon energy. This sudden and unusual injection of energy must realistically be understood as a temporary subsidy.

    At the beginning of this hydrocarbon era, large deposits of oil and natural gas were easily accessible. The energy return on energy investment for early oil wells was often 100 to 1. This means 100 barrels of oil could be extracted using the energy of only l barrel of oil.

    This ratio steadily dropped as the deposits of easily accessible oil were depleted. In recent years the ratio has plummeted. Increasing amounts of energy are required to produce new oil as it becomes harder and harder to extract from deeper, less accessible, and lower quality deposits. The ratio is now down to approximately 18 to 1 worldwide. The ratio for North America is down to 15 to l. Alberta oil sands extraction is down to 5 to 1, and perhaps much lower; some calculations put it at 1 to 1.

    This rapidly declining ratio of energy return on energy invested is the fundamental reality of our energy situation. Energy science analysts and biophysical economists now calculate that 5 to 1 is about as low as the ratio can go before oil extraction is no longer a profitable investment. At 3 to 1 they calculate the oil industry will come to a stand still. Energy corporations will no longer be able to earn a profit and investment will stop. This is simply the logic of our economic system.

    There is no obvious work-around for this future energy scenario. There is simply nothing in the energy picture that can replace the oil subsidy on which our society now runs. As this subsidy is depleted and becomes economically inaccessible, the whole energy basis of our society will  change. The big question is, change to what?

    Meanwhile, the push is on to forestall the sunset of the hydrocarbon economy by moving to extreme energy. Extreme energy is defined by the extraordinary measures required for its extraction compared to conventional energy. These measures include deep-ocean drilling, drilling in remote sites such the Arctic, surface mining of tar and oil sands, and horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of deep shale formations. This extreme energy extraction includes both oil and natural gas.

    Extreme energy is to conventional energy what extreme sports are to conventional sports. Extreme energy, like extreme sports, involves high risk. Failure is often catastrophic. In extreme sports the individual participant suffers the damage of failure. With extreme energy, however, the damage of failure is suffered by the larger environment, economy, and society.

    Extreme energy requires a complexity of technology and a level of risk management that must necessarily become more and more intense as hydrocarbon resources become increasingly difficult to extract. Technology and risk must be pushed to more and more extreme levels in order to keep up the flow of oil required by our current economy.

    Some experts in the field now warn that extreme energy systems are being pushed beyond operator capacity for safe and effective management, and significant failures can, therefore, be expected. (See Drilling Down: The Gulf Oil Debacle and Our Energy Dilemma by Joseph A. Tainter and Tadeusz W. Patzek.)

    We are currently locked into a rapidly ascending spiral of complexity and risk, that will likely   lead to more events like the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the BP Macondo Gulf well blowout. More pipeline failures, more oil and LNG tanker accidents, and more surface and ground water contamination from fracking can be reasonably expected. Evidence is accumulating that fracking can trigger earthquake activity. Fracking and natural gas extraction routinely leak significant amounts of raw methane. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Habitat and health damage is increasingly associated with extreme energy installations.

    The intensity of this extreme energy spiral will continue to mount as we approach the limit of its economic profitability. When energy return on energy investment no longer returns a profit, the spiral will subside, or perhaps collapse. An unforeseen shock to this extremely complex and highly vulnerable energy system could trigger a collapse. Hopefully, we can manage a subsidence, but the possibility of a collapse cannot be dismissed.

    Is the path of extreme energy our only way into future? Both the current Government of Canada and the Government of New Brunswick are acting as if it were. Alberta now has everything riding on the oil sands. A pipeline bringing Alberta crude to the Bay of Fundy is seen as a good way for New Brunswick to cash in on the economy of extreme energy while it lasts.

    The current NB Government is fully engaged with the prospect of shale gas fracking and the royalties it hopes to realize, even though the long-term aftermath costs to Government may largely offset, or even wipe out, the royalty gains. Short-term rationality may be trumped by long-term costs, but we don’t know because Government has not done the risk analysis or made the calculations on aftermath costs – costs that will continue long after the last well is pumped dry.

    The short-term view on oil and natural gas is easy to understand, but it treats the question of extreme energy as if it was here to stay, and we know for sure it is not. We don’t know how  much longer we can depend on it, and we don’t know if we should prepare for a gradual subsidence or a catastrophic collapse. But we do know we better start preparing.

    Herbert Stein, a noted economist and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under US presidents Nixon and Ford, once said, “If something can’t go on forever, it will stop.” This bit of folk wisdom has become known as Stein’s Law, and is often expressed as, “Trends that can’t continue, won’t.”

    As we launch more and more into the era of extreme energy, Stein’s Law increasingly confronts us. We can run extreme energy right out to the end and then hope for the best, or we can start now to scale back while we still have a cushion that enables us to make different energy plans for the future. The big question is will civic, political, and business leadership raise their sights from making the most of extreme energy in the short-term to making the most of sustainable energy for the long-run?

    Keith Helmuth is a member of the Woodstock Sustainable Energy Group

 © 2018 NBEN / RENB