• IMPORTANT: Please E-mail Your MLA To Release Dr. Cleary's Health Study On Shale Gas

    It has been learned that the NB Chief Medical Officer's health report on shale gas has been ready for about a week. The government appears to be delaying its release.

    Please find below the draft text of an e-mail YOU can send to your MLA!

     

    MLA email addresses at this link: http://www1.gnb.ca/legis/bios1/index-e.asp

    Members of the 57th Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick 

    (listed by riding in numerical order and e-mail address)

    Please forward wide and far to your friends.

     

    Thank you for your action!

     

    Contacts

    Mark D'Arcy Email markandcaroline@gmail.com 

     

    Terry Wishart Email t.wishart@banfrackingnb.ca

      

    ******************************************************************************************

    E-MAIL ADDRESSES OF YOUR MLA CAN BE FOUND HERE:

     

    http://www1.gnb.ca/legis/bios1/index-e.asp

     

    Members of the 57th Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick

     

    (listed by riding in numerical order + e-mail address)

     

     

    Dear _______________, MLA

      

    RE:  An Open Letter to MLAs for the Immediate Release of the Complete Health Study on Shale Gas Sector

      

    I just learned that the Health Study on Shale Gas has been completed by Dr. Eilish Cleary, the chief medical officer of health in New Brunswick.  It is my understanding that Dr. Cleary submitted her report to the Alward government about one week ago, and that the report was scheduled to be released in September 2012.

     

    The health implications of introducing shale gas development in this province is one of the most important issues facing New Brunswickers today.  I respectfully request the following:

     

    1.  The Alward government should take care to release the report immediately and to neither delay nor censor it.

     

    2.  The MLAs hold meaningful public consultation on whether to allow or disallow shale gas development in New Brunswick. This consultation should start with legislative hearings, and later include public meetings on the government's final recommendations.

     

    It will be very troubling to our democracy if either of these two steps is not forthcoming.

     

     

     

    All discussion and decisions on shale gas regulations are premature.  

     

     

     

    It is my understanding that the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eilish Cleary, has developed recommendations on the shale gas industry "at preventing or mitigating potential adverse public health effects associated with the industry".

    In the CBC interview with Dr. Cleary (see reference below), she explained that the health study would document how the industry could impact human health, how to mitigate or prevent the risks, as well as how to measure the actual impact of the industry on the health of New Brunswickers if the shale gas industry was to proceed in this province.

    Dr. Cleary said she would make recommendations in each of the following 4 areas: (1) Physical risks; (2) Risks to the community and mental health; (3) Risks from exposure to environmental sources; and (4) Risks to the long-term health of the population.

     

    Furthermore, the public has not yet been consulted on whether or not the province should move forward with shale gas exploration and fracking. Dr. Louis LaPierre publicly admitted, at the shale gas regulations meeting in Norton, NB on July 04, 2012, that the mandate given to him by your government did not include the ability to recommend a moratorium or ban on shale gas development. 

     

    Lastly, during a speech delivered in Moncton last October, Premier David Alward advised that Members of the Legislative Assembly would be organizing town hall and information meetings later that month “to hear directly from their constituents on this important issue."

     

    We have a right to know and to be properly consulted. 

     

    I look forward to an honest and open discussion of all the health, environmental, and economic implications of shale gas development in New Brunswick. 

     

    Sincerely yours,

    [YOUR NAME OR ORGANIZATION HERE]

    cc:  Premier David Alward

     

    Minister Responsible for Citizen Engagement

     

    Province of New Brunswick

     

    E-mail: david.alward@gnb.ca

     

     

    References:

     

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/05/21/nb-shale-gas-health-study-445.html

     

    Health study may examine impact of shale gas sector

     

    Chief medical officer will issue recommendations in the summer - CBC News May 22, 2012

     

    Premier David Alward, October 3, 2011 - Speech to Moncton Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Greater Moncton

  • Public Release

    Q. Why this protest?

    A. Over the last year, the NB government has not given any indication that it is willing to ban or impose a moratorium on hydrofracking, despite mounting evidence on the threats it poses. We want to remind our government in the opening of the Legislature that the people of NB have not given their consent to go ahead with this industry, and that we still demand an immediate stop to any further exploration or development.

    Q. What is the big deal about hydro-fracking?

    A. Fracking is an inherently contaminating industrial process that injects trillions of liters of water laced with toxic chemicals at enormous pressure to break apart rock and release hydrocarbons from underground formations such as shale and sandstone. Part of this toxic water, which may afterwards contain heavy metals and naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs) from the rock it opened, flows back to the well head and has to be tracked out and treated for safe disposal. NB lacks any such treatment facility, and even if it existed, there is no way to treat NORMs.

    Q. Are there other concerns?

    A. Yes. We are talking about unconventional gas (and possibly oil) reserves than can only be exploited through a massive network of wellpads spaced every mile or so and that will require clear-cutting, 24-hour noise and light pollution, huge amounts of truck traffic (and thus accidents and road damage) and permanent alterations of the landscape of rural NB. Furthermore, many of these wells are statistically bound to fail and leak methane and other compounds through the well casing, thus contaminating groundwater. The air quality of the entire area is also bound to decrease through toxic emissions from the well operations, which include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause cancer.

    Q. How can you tell that the people have not given their consent?

    A. In the first place, there is no explicit mention of shale gas in the PC 2010 electoral platform. There is a just a call for ’responsible‘ development of NB Natural Gas reserves. Given the available evidence, ‘responsible’ would be to apply the precautionary principle and call for a moratorium as the government of Quebec has done. So they are not even honouring the call in their platform.

    Second: In November last year a petition for a ban on shale gas that nearly 20,000 people signed was tabled at the Legislature, which, by the way, were completely ignored. This is the largest collection of signatures that has ever taken place in NB on an environmental issue.

    And third, a year ago, a CBC poll of 1,800 New Brunswickers indicated that 80 percent thought environmental concerns outweigh the desire for revenue from hydro-fracking; 74 percent thought hydro-fracking should not continue, and 61 percent called for a total ban on fracking. So it is clear they cannot get the people’s consent, that’s probably why they haven’t asked for it yet.

    Q. But Dr. Louis LaPierre ruled out a moratorium in his report and calls for a phased approach, what do you have to say about this?

    A. Dr. LaPierre based his recommendation on a false assumption, namely that evidence from other jurisdictions cannot be extrapolated to New Brunswick and therefore we need to allow the industry to experiment here. What we see through the facts is that different shale plays behave very similarly both in the economics, which are systematically hyped, and in the environment, where problems are continuously surfacing. It is absurd to think that the NB case will not follow this pattern.

    Q. But couldn’t this pattern be reversed by the tough regulations the Government has promised?

    A. Unfortunately, regulations have no effect on human error or the laws of physics and chemistry. In other words, no regulations can prevent a blowout, a spill or a truck crash, or, accidents apart, the cement casing of a well to deteriorate with time and leak, or the VOCs emitted from a wellsite to travel for tens of kilometers around. In any case, rather than strengthening existing regulations, the government is dismantling them through the introduction of loopholes in environmental legislation that in fact make way for the shale gas industry.

    Q. This gutting of legislation is a serious accusation, can you please elaborate?

    A. On March 16, 2011, then Environment Minister Margaret-Ann Blaney introduced a Natural Resources wetland map that does not show more than 60% of the wetlands in NB, breaking the province's own regulations on wetlands protection and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).

    On July 13, 2011, Minister Blaney notified a network of 19 watershed groups that their 10-year project work to develop a Water Classification Program was dropped because the regulations would be too difficult to enforce. This would have provided the regulatory framework for watershed protection. On November 13, 2012, Minister Bruce Fitch received final public input on their plans to exempt shale gas operations from the provincial Clean Air Act.

    Q. Finance Minister Blaine Higgs has recently pointed to the shale gas industry as an area the province could tap into for additional revenue to tackle the debt. Also, Premier Alward said on November 7th at the Minerals and Petroleum Conference in Fredericton that "Shale gas is our only path to prosperity". Do you agree with them?

    Absolutely not. Government bases these prospects on hyped industry estimates. Data from the US now show that the frenzy of drilling for shale gas in many states has not been the economic boom that industry claimed. In a study that Deborah Rogers, a renowned financial analyst, showed in her recent talk in Fredericton on the 40 counties that have been heavily drilled in the three major shale gas plays in the US, almost all of these counties had a median income, retail sales and employment rates below their State average.

    She also showed that shale plays are not as consistent and uniform as assumed. Only 2 out of 10 wells are profitable in the average shale play, and the rate of production decline is much steeper than what industry claims (on average, 60 to 80% of the total production of a well occurs in the 1st year, and by the 5th year, most wells are unproductive). Can this really be a stable source of jobs and revenues?

    Q. But don’t you think some readers may question whether your information is also biased, against industry?

    A. There is already a wealth of scientific information and journalistic investigations that support our claim that fracking is neither safe nor economic. Interested readers can weigh by themselves for example the thousands of pages of documents gathered by the New York Times under the heading 'federal officials quietly question shale gas'. What is incredible is that we are still fighting this, given the appalling evidence against the practice that is already available.

    Q. How many people do you expect will join the protest?

    Hundreds have already committed to attend through social media, and the list is growing by the day. In addition, we have over 20 community groups, 4 student groups, 6 NGOs such as the NB Lung Association and the Council of Canadians, 3 unions (CUPE, national farmers union, and Distric Labour Council), and two political parties (NDP and Greens) that are joining. These represent tens of thousands of New Brunswickers and are a real cross-section of both rural and urban NB.

    Q. What would you say to someone considering joining the walk?

    A. If you are considering joining, then you probably already understand that the shale gas industry threatens our future. Our government has been co-opted by this industry and trumpets that it can be made safe with tough regulations, while in fact gutting existing ones and that it will bring jobs and prosperity.

    To top it off, they are not listening to New Brunswickers by ignoring our petitions and calls. This is a slap in the face to Democracy that we have to make loudly visible in the streets, so that others may become aware of it.

    And if they already are, then there are hundreds of fellow citizens that feel the same way. Knowing that someone else has the same views you do and is experiencing the same outrage as you is an extremely empowering experience. Come and walk with us!
  • Public Release

    NEW BRUNSWICK PEOPLES’ DECLARATION ON SHALE GAS AND RENEWABLE ENERGY

    November 27, 2012

    WHEREAS

    Licences have been granted by the New Brunswick Government on 1.5 million hectares of New Brunswick enabling exploration for shale gas without public consultation or free, prior and informed consent of First Nations as informed by the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and

    With a well casing failure rate of between 2 and 8 percent, and as high as 50 percent over two decades, shale gas extraction using hydro-fracking poses an unacceptable risk to drinking water wells, groundwater aquifers, lakes and streams, as well as consumes millions of gallons of fresh water, rending it a waste product requiring treatment; and

    The shale gas industry will introduce substances such as benzene, diesel fuel, kerosene, naphthalene and antifreeze into our water through spills/leakage of toxic fracking flow-back fluids, and into our air, through fugitive emissions and venting, placing local residents, livestock, wildlife, and critical agriculture and watershed areas at risk; and

    Communities where hydro-fracking has occurred have experienced explosions, fires, spills, stream contamination and well pollution, which have placed volunteer fire departments, EMS units and healthcare providers at risk; and

    Extensive shale gas extraction, and its required infrastructure of roads, drill pads, pipelines, compressor stations, heavy truck traffic, and impacts of noise, emissions and dust will undermine property values and increase tax burdens on New Brunswickers who have not given their consent to this industry;

    AND WHEREAS

    Approximately 20,000 New Brunswickers in 2011 signed a petition calling for a ban on shale gas licensing and extraction in New Brunswick; and

    In November, 2011 a CBC survey of 1,800 New Brunswickers indicated that 80 percent thought environmental concerns outweigh the desire for revenue from hydro-fracking; 74 percent thought hydro-fracking should not continue, and 61 percent called for a total ban on hydro-fracking; and

    The October 2012 report by Dr. Louis LaPierre (The Path Forward) did not reflect the will of the people as expressed at public meetings held in 2012, and Dr. LaPierre did not gather evidence over the course of the public meetings to support his opinion finding that a moratorium on shale gas development was or was notwarranted; and

    The September 2012 report of Dr. Eilish Cleary (Chief Medical Officer’s Recommendations Concerning the Development of Shale Gas in New Brunswick) establishes the extensive and costly parameters required to be put in place to assess basic human health impacts before any exploratory hydro-fracking takes place; and

    New Brunswick does not have an Environmental Bill of Rights guaranteeing its citizens and First Nations a clean environment including air, water and land and recognizing water as a fundamental Human Right; and

    Employment claims of the industry have been largely overstated elsewhere, for example, in Texas. Furthermore, the work requires skills not generally held by New Brunswickers, rendering them ineligible for all but unskilled employment on shale gas sites;

    AND RECOGNIZING

    That, responding to objections from people, especially from those most directly affected, hydro-fracking has been forbidden or banned in many jurisdictions in the world primarily due to concerns over water; and

    That industry infrastructure development will require clear-cutting of trees, 24-hour noise and light pollution, increases in truck traffic and permanent alterations of the landscape which are incompatible with forestry, fishing, guiding, agriculture, tourism, recreation and other pursuits which contribute to the New Brunswick economy; and

    That resources which otherwise could be directed towards clean, renewable energy alternatives such as solar, wind, geothermal, micro-hydro and other non-consumptive energy resources are currently going into the pursuit of natural gas in shale, an un-sustainable fossil fuel that contributes to global climate change; and

    That the private interaction of government and industry groups as occurred in Fredericton from November 4-6, 2012 at the taxpayer-supported 2012 Exploration, Mining and Petroleum New Brunswick Conference has the effect of inhibiting New Brunswickers’ expression against fossil fuel development and prevents alternative energy propositions from gaining recognition or reaching fruition;

    WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, RESPECTFULLY DEMAND THAT

    The New Brunswick Government begin, TODAY, an energy transition program based on reducing overall energy consumption, energy efficiency and giving priority to renewable energy over sources that are finite, whiletransferring all subsidies from carbon to renewables/sustainables and increasing them in scale; and

    That the production and delivery of energy be re-oriented to satisfy the needs of the people of New Brunswick, and not for export or to be managed by transnational interests or driven by industrial consumption; and

    That local, alternative and sustainable solutions be prioritized, decentralizing generation. This transition requires an immediate ban on drilling for shale and in general prohibiting unconventional hydrocarbon extraction using methods too dangerous for the environment and health; and

    That Government invite meaningful, constructive dialogue with social and environmental movements to determine all the economic possibilities and opportunities for New Brunswick that will address our debt and deficit and eliminate shale gas from consideration in this regard; and

    That Government accept that the people reserve the right to enact civil disobedience to confront destruction of the New Brunswick environment, methods of subsistence, of quality of life and of health; and

    That Government prioritize the adoption of a New Brunswick Environmental Bill of Rights, entrenching every citizen’s right to clean air, land and water in legislation, for the benefit of current and future generations.

    Signed this day, the 27th of November, by

    Please sign the electronic petition here

  • For Immediate Release
    PRESS RELEASE
    22 November 2012

    Toughest shale gas regulations in North America? – Not anymore

    Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada – New Brunswick government introduces a loophole that exempts all shale gas operations from the provincial Clean Air Act.

    The Alward government has proposed exempting certain businesses from the Clean Air Act implemented in 1997 to protect New Brunswickers from the harmful effects of air pollution. Air pollution results in premature deaths, as well as tens of thousands of hospital administrations and emergency room visits by Canadians experiencing respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses.

    “The Alward government pledged to develop world-class regulations to oversee the shale gas industry – to strengthen existing regulations and not dismantle them,” says Mark D’Arcy, a member of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians.
    In a speech to the Moncton Chamber of Commerce on October 3rd 2011 Premier David Alward said, “We actually have a strong set of policies and regulations already. But we need them to go further to ensure New Brunswickers and our environment will remain protected. And we’ll make sure they do go further. As a matter of fact, we’ll make sure New Brunswick has some of the toughest regulations governing exploration and development on this continent.”

    “By relaxing these standards the Alward government is doing exactly the opposite of what it continually promises the public,” says D’Arcy.

    Under the current classification (Clean Air Act, 1997), shale gas companies fall under a Class 4 designation. Class 4 criteria require emissions less than: 1) 10 tonnes per year of either sulphur dioxide or particulate matter and 2) 30 tonnes of gas per minute.

    The proposed amendment, allegedly targeting small heating plants, reads as follows: ‘if the sulphur dioxide emissions released into the environment are less than 10 tonnes per year and the particulate matter emissions released into the environment are less than 10 tonnes per year, no approval is required…’

    Note that the only criteria being targeted for exemption coincidentally relate directly to the manner in which the shale gas industry is currently classified.

    “This is like saying that to get your driver’s license you must be 16 or over and pass both written and road tests. However, in another superseding section of the Motor Vehicle Act it would state that anyone 16 or over is exempt from all driving tests. Does this make any sense?” says D’Arcy. “First wetlands, next watersheds, and now air sheds are available for deregulated development.”



    Reference:
    Response to Proposed Amendment to the Air Quality Regulation 97-133 under the Clean Air Act
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