• Economic fear mongering is alive and well

    Economic fear mongering is alive and well

    The Daily Gleaner - Letters to the editor, 23 January 2013

     

     

    Re: Shale gas development

     

    Curiously, Minister of Health Ted Flemming, Dr. LaPierre, geologist Adrian Park and some letter-to–the-editor writers use identical language to claim that opponents of shale gas rely on inaccurate data from the film Gasland, and indulge in hysterical fear mongering.

     

    How dishonest, hypocritical and desperate! Unable to convince the public about the wonders of shale gas, they attempt to discredit the opposition.

     

    Gasland served as a wake-up call several years ago, but has been superseded by much history and science. I can’t remember any public forum in two years where it was cited as a reference.

     

    Shale opponents cite Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, international expert in rock fracturing, peer-reviewed scientific studies in prestigious journals, the US EPA, the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, government records of violations, and the industry’s own reports of failure.

     

    We cite the only long-term public health study by the University of Colorado, and The Endocrine Disruption Exchange on the toxicity of fracking chemicals. We point to the scholarly report done by New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Eilesh Cleary, which notes that we know almost nothing about shale’s public health threats.

     

    Recent peer-reviewed studies from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado are cited showing that shale worsens climate-change.

     

    Economists, financial analysts, science-based non-profit organizations, and the testimonies of people affected by shale gas from across North America are our sources. We’ve brought many expert speakers to the New Brunswick public.

     

    Where are the voices for the pro side? We hear only from gas-producing interests. Where are the independent studies proving that wells don’t leak, that water doesn’t get contaminated and air isn’t polluted, that there are no health problems, that methane isn’t leaking, that fracking chemicals aren’t toxic/carcinogenic, that roads aren’t destroyed, that quality of life doesn’t suffer, that shale gas’s boom and bust economic shell game doesn’t leave a place worse off? The silence is deafening.

     

    We offered to debate publicly, but government and industry were no-shows.

     

    The government merely repeats the totally false and unsupported idea that shale gas is our only economic hope. Talk about fear mongering propaganda.

    Jim Emberger
    Taymouth, N.B. 
  • New Shale Gas Rules A Red Herring Diverting From Real Issue

    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.

  • Open Letter On Shale Gas To Alward Government

    (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
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