Letter to the Editor by Jim Emberger, Telegraph-Journal / Feb.21, 2023
While a legislature committee holds hearings on the province’s energy future, Premier Blaine Higgs proposes a return to the past with a shale gas revival. The committee’s agenda doesn’t mention shale gas. Perhaps it has accepted that virtually every global scientific body agrees that to avoid the worst of the climate crisis, new fossil fuel projects must not proceed. Fracked gas and LNG export terminals, like the one being contemplated for Saint John, are huge greenhouse gas producers.
The 2015 moratorium contains conditions that require scientific evidence that threats to health and the environment from shale have been resolved, before lifting the moratorium.
A multitude of public health studies have associated water and air pollution from shale gas with birth defects, cardiac and neurological problems, cancers, asthma and more. Proposed safe distances between gas infrastructure and human habitation exceed current provincial regulations.
Air pollution from new LNG export terminals in the U.S.A. has greatly exceeded the limits set by regulations. (Take note, Saint John). Fracking has verifiably contaminated surface, ground and drinking water.
There is still no fully safe disposal method for toxic, carcinogenic, and often radioactive, fracking wastewater. The best method remains simply pumping it underground and hoping it stays there forever. There is a lot more wastewater now, because fracking wells have become much longer, requiring millions more litres of freshwater to frack.
Earthquakes caused by wastewater, and fracking itself, are now accepted facts, and quakes grow stronger.
No condition for lifting the moratorium has been met. Our supposed European gas market will likely disappear. A report reviewing 15 years of development in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale states: “One inescapable conclusion from the employment and population numbers is that, as the natural gas industry matures, whatever meager economic benefits it confers early in its life cycle diminish over time.”
So, what can Higgs argue to persuade Indigenous land and water protectors?