Most Asked Questions

Are YOU in the FRACK zone?

Many area residents who live in the urban areas of Moncton do not even realize that they live within a potential frack zone in NB. Nor do they realize that all New Brunswickers will pay the costs associated with the industry…costs to roads, health, social and emergency services.

Areas to the north and west of Moncton, including Irishtown Nature Park, Evergreen Subdivision, West Mountain Road, Humphreys Mills, Sunny Brae, Hildegarde, Lutes Mountain are part of the SWN Resources lease area.

Riverview is framed by leased areas, including Salisbury, Upper Coverdale, Stoney Creek to Hopewell Cape, and until recently, part of the Turtle Creek Watershed.

Find out where the leased areas are (blocked and shaded in the image below), and whether you live in the frack zone by visiting the GNB website.

moncton leases2

The Case for a 10-year, Legislated, Unconditional Moratorium on Shale Gas

Today the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) announces its position on the issue of a shale gas moratorium.  It is the minimum standard to which we will hold our political parties.

We call for a ten (10) year, legislated and unconditional moratorium on all unconventional oil and gas exploration and production in New Brunswick.

During that period all existing leases must be suspended and no new leases granted.
(For brevity, we will use the term shale gas to mean unconventional oil and gas.)

A “legislated” moratorium means that it must be embodied in binding legislation. Campaign promises, executive actions or party platforms are not sufficient.

“Unconditional” means just that.  This issue is multifaceted and complex and the research is just now developing.  There are no conditions or reports that can in any way make a definitive statement that this factor or that will make it okay to proceed. The list of potential harms is too big to address and is growing. Research continues to encounter problems no one envisioned.  How can you create conditions for things you don’t know yet?

Calling for a ten-year moratorium, rather than a ban, simply reflects the fact that there may still be New Brunswickers who have many doubts about shale gas, but who are not yet convinced that an absolute ban is warranted.

As evidence and research continues to build a case against shale gas, our membership expects that at the end of ten years shale gas will be permanently banned as a result of what we will learn during the moratorium.

There has been discussion about relying on two reports from Environment Canada and the US EPA.  These reports suffer from several problems. Primarily they will be narrow in scope or won’t include the latest research.

The EPA report is focused solely, and I quote, “on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources.  Areas that fall outside of this study’s scope include, for instance: air impacts, ecological effects, seismic risks, specific health impacts, public safety, and occupational risks”.  The Environment Canada report is likely to be of even less use, except as a way to identify areas that need study.

We also regret to say that both of these once-reliable agencies appear to have become tainted by political influence.

In the last year the US EPA has withdrawn from three investigations of contamination caused by shale gas activities, before publicizing its findings.  Its preliminary findings in all three cases indicated that contamination had occurred, but it closed down the cases before publication due to pressure from petroleum-state senators and the White House. Incredibly, in one case it was forced to turn over the investigation to the very company accused of causing the contamination.

However, the findings of contamination became public knowledge from other sources.  In Pennsylvania, it was leaked documents.  In Texas, it was a consulting independent scientist. In Wyoming, the EPA scientists simply made a statement that they stood by their preliminary findings of contamination. In light of these extraordinary examples of political manipulation, the reliability and impartiality of any report from the EPA on the subject must be met with great skepticism.

In Canada the political manipulation is even more blatant.  The Harper government has ceded all environmental regulation of fossil fuels to the provinces, fired thousands of scientists and regulators, and closed environmental research and review institutions.  Most astoundingly, the scientists that remain are not allowed to talk to the press or the public without being cleared by a political handler.  What faith can we have in a report controlled by a government and party that seem to be doing everything they can to silence the voice of science, especially when it applies to the fossil fuel industry?

Ten years is the minimum amount of time necessary to do the long-term studies on all aspects of shale gas that are currently lacking, particularly on public health, as has been made abundantly clear in our Chief Medical Officer for Health’s award winning report on the subject, and echoed by health and research communities everywhere.

We call for a 10-year unconditional moratorium, because severe health problems have been identified but not thoroughly studied.

From the beginning of the shale gas industry, a little over a decade ago, people near the wells reported unusual and severe symptoms and illness, but it was years before health officials began to connect the maladies to shale gas. So even now, the longest-term public health study, by the University of Colorado, lasted only 3 years. The conclusions of that study indicated that living near a shale gas well resulted in substantial increases in the risks for developing cancer, neurological and respiratory and other diseases.  As cancer and some other diseases may take years to develop, the study called for more research.

That study is now several years old.  Just last week, the same University of Colorado School of Public Health completed a study of all the available research and said,  “Despite broad public concern, no comprehensive population-based studies of the public health effects of UNG (unconventional natural gas) operations exist.  Overall, the current literature suggests that research needs to address these uncertainties before we can reasonably quantify the likelihood of occurrence or magnitude of adverse health effects associated with UNG production in workers and communities.”

We call for a 10-year unconditional moratorium, because new health threats keep appearing.

Recent, independent studies have associated living near a shale gas well with low birth weight in infants, poor infant health, congenital heart defects and exposure to endocrine disruptors, substances that in the tiniest quantities can cause a host of developmental, reproductive and other diseases.  These substances, whose dangers have only recently been discovered, are regularly used in the shale gas industry.

Each study indicates a new problem that shows a correlation to shale gas and each calls for more long-term research. Each also indicates problems at greater and greater distances from gas wells, and that air pollution from shale gas activities may be a more serious threat to our health than the water contamination that has been widely discussed to date. And it must be noted that there are no studies concluding that shale gas is safe.

We call for a 10-year unconditional moratorium, because history is littered with instances where the lack of sufficient testing has resulted in tragedy.

In our past we have killed and sickened millions and caused irreparable harm to our environment by not doing long-term research before employing things like asbestos, lead, mercury, radium, DDT, and a host of industrial chemicals – PCB’s, CFC’s, and dioxins.

Consider the years of testing necessary to certify a single drug for human use. Yet the chemicals known to be available for use in hydro-fracking number roughly 650, combined in nearly a thousand different products.   While many are already known to have toxic or carcinogenic properties, many have not undergone any testing at all, and virtually none have been tested in combinations with the others. Yet we will be breathing them in 24/7, and ingesting them in our water and food.

We call for a 10-year unconditional moratorium, because cities and jurisdictions that host the shale gas industry, even those in traditional oil and gas areas, such as Colorado, Pennsylvania and Texas, are now calling for moratoriums and bans on shale gas activities.

It would be prudent to find out why. Ten years will also allow us to observe the long-term effects on communities that host the shale industry.  Boom-bust social problems are increasingly cited in news reports from those areas, in addition to the health threats noted.

We call for a 10-year unconditional moratorium, because we wonder if the industry itself will even persist?

Existing shale plays have hit peak production in 4 or 5 years. Many experts predict that the industry as a whole will have a very short lifespan.  It that where we want to bet our future? Waiting ten years will let us know if they are correct.

We call for a 10-year unconditional moratorium, because within 2 years world leaders plan to commit to binding reductions on fossil fuel usage and lower carbon emissions.

Many global institutions and nearly all climate scientists conclude that three quarters of all fossil fuels must stay in the ground to prevent catastrophic, irreversible climate change. Some investment counselors, a growing social movement, and even the president of the World Bank, are saying that divestment of fossil fuels is not only a move toward self-preservation, but also a smart fiscal idea. A ten-year wait will tell the tale.

All the above mean that we will have to switch to alternative clean energies, which fortunately, are by far the fastest growing parts of the energy sector, creating huge numbers of jobs.  Our time should be spent pursuing this sensible future.

Contrary to the Minister of Energy’s comments, delaying this industry is the only sensible thing to do.  Gas is not like a factory that investors can move elsewhere for a better deal.  In the unlikely events that in ten years it can be extracted safely, and the world wants it, investor’s will come here, because the gas will be here.

In the meantime, the citizens of New Brunswick have been loud and clear about not wanting their families to be guinea pigs in return for an uncertain promise of a few temporary jobs.

Eighty municipalities, thirty-three community groups, much of the medical establishment, agricultural and rural associations, religious organizations and a large number of unions, including the largest public and private sector unions in Canada have called for a ban, a ten-year moratorium or a simple halt to the shale gas industry.

It is time that the voices and will of those people are heard by the politicians who claim to represent them.  We intend to track and publicize the positions of every candidate on this issue between now and the election. Candidates, expect to be hearing from your electorate.

 

Health Studies Referenced

“Human Health Risk Assessment of Air Emissions from Development of Unconventional Natural Gas Resources.”, Lisa McKenzie, Ph.D., MPH, University of Colorado School of Public Health, Science of the Total Environment.

Potential Public Health Hazards, Exposures and Health Effects from Unconventional Natural Gas Development † Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver, 13001 E. 17th Place, Campus Box B119, Aurora, Colorado 80045, United States  Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, 130 DeSoto Street, A710 Crabtree Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, United States, Environ. Sci. Technol., Article ASAP DOI:10.1021/es404621d  Publication Date (Web): February 24, 2014
Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1306722

Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to Natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado. Lisa M. McKenzie,1 Ruixin Guo,2 Roxana Z. Witter,1 David A. Savitz,3 Lee S. Newman,1 and John L. Adgate1,  Colorado School of Public Health and Brown University.

“Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region,” Susan Nagel, PhD. Missouri University School of Medicine, Endocrinology

Low Birth Weight Study, Janet Currie of Princeton University, Katherine Meckel of Columbia University, and John Deutch and Michael Greenstone of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

New Brunswickers Calling for a Moratorium

Municipalities

Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick (51 municipalities) These municipalities reaffirmed their position in October 2013, calling once again for a moratorium.
Kent Co. Regional Service Commission (14 municipalities )
Moncton
Hillsborough
Alma
Sackville
Memramcook
Hampton
Minto
Stanley
Bathurst
Sussex Corner
Quispamsis
Port Elgin
Wolastoqiyik First Nations Chiefs and Band Councils of NB and the Maliseet Grand Council (Oct 2013)

Medical Associations

New Brunswick College of Family Physicians with 700 members (April 2012)
Medical Doctors of the Moncton Hospital (June 2012)
Medical Doctors at Georges Dumont Hospital, Moncton (Sept. 2012)
New Brunswick Nurses Union with 6900 members (Dec. 2011)
Medical Staff at Sackville Memorial Hospital (May 2012 and again in May 2013)
New Brunswick Lung Association (Nov 2012)

Unions and Associations

Canadian Union of Public Employees with 30,000 members (April 2012)
NB National Farmers Union with 150 farms as members (March 2012)
Maritime Conference of the United Church of Canada (March 2012 and again in October 2013)
The Federation of Rural New Brunswickers (August 2012)
Public Service Alliance of Canada – Atlantic Region (July 2013)
Really Local Harvest Co-operative – South-east NB (Oct 2013)
KAIROS – Saint John and area chapter (Oct 2013)
Concerned Physicians of Rexton and Richebucto (Oct 2013)
Unifor – Canada’s largest energy union with 300,000 members, called for a national moratorium on fracking on Nov 14, 2013.

Community Groups

Citizens Coalition for Clean Air, Saint John
Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis
Corn Hill Area Residents Association
Conservation Council NB, Fredericton
Conservation Council NB, Moncton
Council of Canadians, Fredericton
Council of Canadians, St. John
Council of Canadians Atlantic Chapter Halifax, NS
Darling Island Fracking Intervention, Darling Island
Elgin Eco Association
Friends of Mount Carleton
Hampton Water First, Hampton
Harvey Action Team, Harvey
Community Forests International (Sackville)
Kent South NO SHALE GAS Kent Sud
Maliseet Grand Council, NB
Memramcook Action
Moncton Anti-Fracking
New Brunswickers Against Fracking
Our Environment, Our Choice, Kent County
Parents Against Everyday Poisons, Memramcook
Penniac Anti-Shale Org.
Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance
Quality of Life, Hampton/Norton
Sierra Club, Atlantic NB
SikniktukMikmaq Rights Coalition NB
Stanley Area Action Group
Sustainable Energy Group, Woodstock
Tantramar Alliance Against Hydro-Fracking, Sackville
Taymouth Community Association
Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance, Miramichi
Upper Environment Watch, Kent County
Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County

Anti-shale gas group (NBASGA) calls for 10-year moratorium

Binding legislation needed, campaign promises not enough, spokesperson says

CBC News  ::  Mar 06, 2014

The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance says 10 years is the minimum time necessary to do the required long-term scientific studies on all the aspects of shale gas.

A group opposed to shale gas development and production in the province is calling on political parties to stand behind a legislated 10-year moratorium.

The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance says 10 years is the minimum time required for the provincial government to review the industry and the impacts on health and the environment.

Meanwhile, it wants all existing leases cancelled and no new leases granted.

“A 10-year moratorium, rather than a ban, recognizes that there may still be New Brunswickers have doubts about shale gas, but who are not yet convinced that an absolute ban is warranted,” the group said in a statement issued on Thursday.

“NBASGA  is confident that after 10 years, shale gas will be permanently banned as a result of what is learned during the moratorium,” said spokesperson Jim Emberger.

But the moratorium must be enacted by binding legislation, he said. “Campaign promises, executive actions and vague intentions are not good enough.”

The group has timed its announcement to line up with this year’s provincial election, said Emberger. He believes the shale gas debate could weigh heavily on how New Brunswickers choose to vote on Sept. 22.

“We want [the political parties] to all take it into consideration when they draw up the party platform because certainly, you know, we’ll be reporting back to the public as much as we can about what each candidate thinks about this. And so it gives them a standard,” he said.

No Contamination? Ever?

Are you confused by industry claims about the long history of fracking with no contamination?

The article below contains two short videos by experts that explain the confusion – both are under 3 minutes long and were made for the recent moratorium battles in Colorado. These videos feature local and national experts who touch on economics, air pollution, groundwater contamination and renewable energy solutions. The first video features EPA whistleblower Wes Wilson and the second features Cornell scientist Tony Ingraffea.

Check out the entire Colorado article here.

Or, for a more detailed history and explanation of the gas industry’s confusing wordplay:

http://blog.skytruth.org/2013/11/fracking-word-games.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Skytruth+%28SkyTruth%29

License vs Lease

Are exploration licenses and production leases of shale gas really separate things?

stanley_aug18Our government says not to worry about seismic testing, because it is only exploration.

NB’s Oil and Gas Act – 26(3), explains how to change from exploration to production:

 A license to search may be converted to a lease in its entirety at the end of the license term, if in the opinion of the Minister, all exploration commitments under the license have been met.  

What this means:  As long as a company spends the required amount during the phase of exploration, it is guaranteed a production lease.  There is no process in between. A license to explore becomes a lease to begin extraction.

 

Resource Link

Find out whether you live within a lease area with this interactive map:  http://geonb.snb.ca/ong/

 

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

The New Brunswick Government says it’s all about ‘Jobs-Jobs-Jobs.’

We think maybe not so many.

jobsA new study from independent, nonpartisan fiscal research groups in the six states comprising the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations in the US concludes that the shale gas industry’s effect on job growth was negligible.

“Shale drilling has made little difference in job growth in any of the six states we studied,” said Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center in Pennsylvania. “We know this because we now have data on what happened, not what industry supporters hoped would happen.”

Report Highlights:

  • The number of shale jobs created is far below industry claims and remains a small share of overall employment.
  • Between 2005 and 2012, fewer than four new direct shale-related jobs have been created for each new well drilled, much less than estimates as high as 31 direct jobs per well in some industry-financed studies.
  • Industry-funded studies have used questionable assumptions in economic modeling to inflate the number of jobs created in related supply chain industries (indirect jobs) as well as those created by the spending of income earned from the industry or its suppliers (induced jobs).

(Note: The report on New Brunswick by Deloitte, which the government keeps quoting, predicts 21 jobs per well.

Why the exaggeration?

“Industry supporters have exaggerated the jobs impact in order to minimize, or avoid altogether, taxation, regulation and even careful examination of shale drilling,” said Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York.

Resource Links

Link #1 summarizes the report; Link#2  is the fiscal report itself; Link #3 is our own info sheet on jobs.

  1. http://ecowatch.com/2013/11/21/study-confirms-job-exaggerated-by-fracking-industry/
  2. http://www.multistateshale.org/
  3. NBASGA’s Info sheet on jobs

KAIROS Speaks Out

September 19, 2013

Hon. David Alward
Premier of New Brunswick
PO Box 6000
Fredericton, NB
E3B 5H1

Dear Premier Alward:

The Saint John and Area KAIROS is a local group affiliated with KAIROS Canada: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, linking, Anglicans, Lutherans, Mennonites, Presbyterians, Quakers, Roman Catholics and United Church members from across Canada in “Faithful Action for Justice and Peace”.

IMG_1014a

Since this is a Christian organization, we hold before us the life and work of Jesus when grappling with present day peace and social justice issues.  “What would Jesus do?” is a question easily tossed about, but when taken seriously, demands honest, critical study, thought, and prayer.   It is only after such work that our local KAIROS group writes to you concerning the exploration for, and extraction of, shale gas in New Brunswick.

God’s gift of creation is rooted in the interdependence of all living things.  When decisions are being made that place the economy above the integrity of creation, it is time to speak and to act.

We appreciate the seriousness of New Brunswick’s financial situation; however, we do not feel the exploration and extraction of shale gas is a supportable solution.  An industry that threatens our water, both ground water and municipal water supplies for future generations, an industry that does not disclose the chemicals injected into the ground nor its plan for dealing with the millions of liters of polluted water when brought back to the surface, an industry that evokes high carbon dioxide emissions, an industry that is driven by corporations from away that will go away, leaving communities devastated, soil contaminated, air and water polluted is not an industry that New Brunswickers want or deserve.

Experience has shown that multinational corporations, when called to account, wield their power and wealth to silence or suppress local citizens in their attempts to obtain justice.  The hydraulic fracturing method of gas extraction takes place in rural areas where rallying significant opposition and launching  costly law suits against big business is difficult, if not impossible . The Kingdom of God that Jesus announced is a shared way of life in which powerless people are given preferential attention.

We are proud to join with New Brunswickers:  Aboriginal, English, French, all concerned citizens alike who are calling to account the practices of the gas industry before God’s creation suffers further wounding, under the guise of progressive economic advancement.

Sincerely,

Rev. Mary Wanamaker
For Saint John and Area KAIROS

This land is my land…or is it?

 (with notes from R. LeChance and D. Core)

Last week in Hillsborough, Dave Core, founding president of CAEPLA, Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowners Association poke to a full house of southern NB landowners on the issue of leasing land for pipelines or gas/oil wells.

davecoreDave has spent decades advocating for landowner property rights across the country. He jokingly commented that, despite his ponytail, he was not an environmentalist, but was, in fact, pro-development. But never at the expense of the landowner.

Dave hopes to create more responsible land stewardship and to ensure industry is held to higher levels of compensation, accountability and safety through lease agreements.

Pipeline companies are beginning to survey lands east and west of Fredericton for the proposed West-East pipeline and the government has scheduled town hall meetings in a limited number of communities. At the same time, gas companies are exploring for shale gas in south-east New Brunswick and preparing for further development in other areas.

Dave-Core-250x180

 

Pipeline surveyors are already contacting people in the Saint John River Valley. Listen to this interview on CBC and this online article.

Dave’s talk in summary:

  • Gas and oil companies lease the surface of your land to extract the resources.
  • Pipeline companies can acquire the use of your land through “Easement Agreements” that leave your name on title.

In both cases the energy companies can apply to the government through “regulatory processes” for “right of entry” (expropriation).

This takes away your right to negotiate a fair contract protecting your best interests. You have no leverage to negotiate once your property rights have been taken by legislation that creates either ministerial or regulatory processes giving all the advantages to the oil/gas and pipeline industry. The only way to counter-balance this is when landowners work together to level the playing field and to force governments to change the legislation protecting property rights.

Here are some important points to understand, should someone approach you to lease/survey your land:

  • Most important: Do not sign any oil or gas leases or pipeline agreements (surveying, exploration, land, etc.) unless you know exactly what you are signing.  Signed documents of any type have been successfully used by pipeline and gas and oil companies to indicate the landowner’s approval for development. Even attending a ‘town hall’ consultation meeting and filling out a survey or information form can be used to ‘verify’ that the company has ‘consulted’ with you.
  • Pipeline companies do not want to own or lease your land; they want to take your land through an easement agreement which leaves your name on title. In this way, partial or total liability for any damages remains with the landowner.
  • Any easement on your land, including all future liabilities, will be tied to your property even if you attempt to sell it.  The easement may restrict your use or any future buyer’s use of the land.
  • If you refuse to sign an easement agreement, the company can apply for a ‘Right of Entry’ that the federal government’s National Energy Board will approve. This taking of land is to the financial benefit of pipeline company shareholders. It is rent control for pipeline monopolies.
  • Land agents will play neighbour against neighbour to make sure that they do not pay fair industrial rates for the land and to avoid signing an ironclad contract that protects your property.  You have little bargaining power as an individual.
  • Landowners across Canada now understand that the only way to get fair compensation for oil and gas leases is to talk to each other. The only way to protect your family’s safety, environment, businesses and investments is by working together to demand ironclad contracts and changes to government legislation respecting property rights. It is only the front line people, those directly affected, that can address these issues and protect our water and stewardship responsibilities.
  • Verbal assurances from a land agent or a gas company are not legally binding. Anything not written into the oil/gas lease or a pipeline easement is NOT in the agreement.
  • Very few lawyers have the necessary experience in property rights issues associated with the laws relating to gas companies and gas leases to actually address the best interests of an affected landowner. When landowners work together, they have leverage to negotiate better agreements and to hire legal counsel who understand the enacting legislation and will stand up for landowner rights.
  • Land agents do not look after your best interests. It is their job to acquire lease/easements at the lowest price with the least responsibility for their clients; i.e. the gas/pipeline companies. When you purchase a house through a realtor, they represent the seller, not the buyer.  Land agents represent the buyer (gas company), not the seller (property owner). Their fiduciary responsibility is to the company paying their contract not to the property owner; do not let them convince you otherwise.

The proposed west-east pipeline would be regulated by the National Energy Board (NEB), and their regulations supersede anything you agree to with the pipeline company, provincial environment or regulatory laws. Once the pipelines are abandoned with NEB approval, the NEB no longer has jurisdiction; responsibility falls back on the landowner. The landowner whose name is on the title, will fall prey to provincial environmental and safety laws, potentially making his/her property a brown space, like an abandoned gas station. This is why pipeline companies do not want to own the land their pipelines cross, they ultimately do not want responsibility when all is said and done.

The best way to protect your best interests when approached to lease land for pipelines or well pads is for landowners to work together to force contracts that are renegotiated or updated every 5 years. Contracts should address abandonment and other risks, liabilities, duty of care and other costs that are often left to affected landowners when they legally belong to pipeline companies.

By creating a NB Landowners Association, landowners form a united front enabling them to negotiate better easement agreements (or perhaps a lease with annual payments renegotiated every 5 years) that help protect safety and property values. It is only by working with your neighbours that you can level the playing field.

We need our local communities and our Provincial Governments to support us in holding the Federal government and its NEB responsible for our property rights.

About CAEPELA
CAEPLA has created an instruction bookletWhen the Landman Comes Calling – advising landowners of the risks of leasing. If you know of a neighbour who has been approached by a land agent or anyone else trying to acquire a land or pipeline lease, share or print the attached document with them.  Also share the document with anyone who has stated they are willing to lease their land.