Public policy must reflect care for citizens’ well-being
New Brunswickers who are looking for the facts about shale gas are not getting them from the current political debate. They are often being deliberately misled or else are confused by politicians who don’t understand the issues, themselves. And they are definitely missing out on critical information.
MONCTON, NB (5 September 2014) – The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) applauds a decision by the Government of Nova Scotia to place a ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and calls on the Government of New Brunswick to do the same.
Nova Scotia Energy Minister Andrew Younger announced Wednesday, Sept. 3, that the government of Nova Scotia will “introduce legislation this fall to prohibit high volume hydraulic fracturing for onshore shale gas, until more evidence is available on its impact”.
Shediac Gala Fundraiser and Silent Auction
More than 85 artists and artisans have donated over 125 works of art for a Gala Fundraiser & Silent Auction to raise money for the three legal actions launched to protect our province’s environment against the development of the shale gas industry. The event will take place on Thursday August 28th 2014 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Multipurpose Centre in Shediac. In addition to the silent auction, there will be a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, as well as live entertainment featuring local musicians. Admission is $10, which will cover costs related to venue rental and food.
New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance says: The more we investigate, the more questions need answers.
Moncton, NB (18 August 2014) – After researching written documents and interviewing Nova Scotians involved with the history of Atlantic Industrial Services’ (AIS) activities in that province, the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) believes that even more questions must be answered about the proposal to dispose of fracking wastewater in Dieppe.
Atlantic Industrial Services Waste Water Dumping Proposal Raises Serious Concerns
New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance asks: Is this another example of backroom ‘public consultation’?
Moncton, NB (11 August 2014) – Recent news reports on a proposal by Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) to truck 30 million litres of fracking wastewater from its Debert, NS facility into Dieppe for dumping in the municipal sewage system has generated many questions by environmental groups and residents in the tri-community area. Dieppe City Council may be hearing some of them at their council meeting tonight.
The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) applauds the City of Dieppe for its cautionary approach, but questions – once again – the lack of public consultation initiated, since the application for the EIA was dated June 6, 2014, yet it was 60 days before the proponent presented to the Dieppe City Council.
The New Brunswick EIA regulations clearly state: “Open and transparent public involvement is required for all registered projects….The opportunity for public involvement benefits citizens most when they take an active role at an early stage in the process, and clearly articulate their specific questions or concerns.”
“Does informing City Council – and only Dieppe City Council – 60 days later constitute an acceptable standard for public consultation under NB regulations?” asks Jim Emberger, spokesman for NBASGA. “What about the other tri-city councils? The Greater Moncton Sewerage Commission? What about the general public’s right to know? Wouldn’t the department of Environment and Local Government want to be up front and transparent, particularly when the issue is a new and precedent-setting industrial procedure taking place during a contentious debate on the underlying issue of shale gas?”
NBASGA, after reviewing the EIA document, asks why a company from the United States, processing waste in Nova Scotia, buys a defunct waste disposal company in New Brunswick that has no facilities other than a garage, access to the municipal sewage system, and an old certificate for waste disposal.
“This situation raises several questions,” says Emberger. “The most pressing is this: If this water is supposedly safe enough for Dieppe, then why did Nova Scotia refuse it?”
The wastewater in question has been a problem for the company for several years, the problems originating when local residents discovered that the company had dumped seven million litres of ‘untreated’, radioactive water into the Windsor sewage system without advising anyone. This led the Colchester County municipality to veto any further dumping. Now the company is looking to New Brunswick to help solve its disposal problems.
“If this EIA is approved, then the government has facilitated a ‘backdoor’ solution to a problem it has not addressed in its rules for industry or in public discussion. This situation clearly illuminates the fact that this government has no idea how to do safely dispose of waste water from fracking. And yet, Corridor is currently fracking in Penobsquis and in Elgin and we have further gas and oil wells pending in Albert County. Where is this waste being disposed of?”
MONCTON, NB (June 23, 2014) – The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) is taking the provincial government to court to stop shale gas development in the province.“We’re taking this action to protect the health and well-being of New Brunswickers, both now and in the future,” said NBASGA chairman Roy Ries.
NBASGA is an alliance of 22 non-profit, community groups across New Brunswick. It filed a Statement of Claim against the Province of New Brunswick in Saint John Court of Queen’s Bench Monday. NBASGA’s lawsuit says the development of unconventional shale gas and oil deposits poses so great a threat to human health and the environment that it violates Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing all persons in Canada the right to life and security of their person. That right to security of the person entails the right of Canadians to health and to clean drinking water.
NBASGA is asking the Court to impose a moratorium on the development of unconventional shale gas and oil until such time as long-term, population-based scientific studies demonstrate that it can be done safely. Regina lawyer Larry Kowalchuk is representing NBASGA, while Alliance directors Roy Ries, Jim Emberger and Carol Ring are acting as plaintiffs.
“The scientific research that has been done to date on shale gas, and the experience of communities elsewhere with the industry, is alarming,” Roy Ries said. “These show that shale gas development using current technologies needlessly jeopardizes the health of families and communities across New Brunswick.”
“For example, a recent study by scientists from the Colorado School of Public Health and Brown University found a strong correlation between a pregnant woman’s exposure to unconventional oil and gas wells and congenital heart defects,” he said.
There are many such studies documenting life-threatening health problems and contamination of air, water and land associated with shale, Ries noted. “NBASGA will place the best available, peer-reviewed scientific studies documenting that damage before the courts.”
Denise Melanson and Jim Emberger are NBASGA’s official spokespersons for its legal action.
“Court action to stop shale gas is necessary because the Province of New Brunswick has ignored the many dire warnings about such development from both independent scientists and doctors, including the recent report from The Council of Canadian Academies that said there is no scientific basis for existing shale gas regulations” Emberger said.
“We have tried every means possible to get the provincial government to take the warnings about these dangers seriously, but they have been ignored or dismissed out of hand each and every time,” he said. “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to life and security of the person and neither governments nor corporations are allowed to violate those guarantees by ignoring threats to them for any purpose. This is why we are going to the courts.”
NBASGA also intends to document for the court the fact that shale gas development elsewhere has been shown to pollute groundwater, water wells and surface water that are some distance from actual drill sites.
“Along with the contamination of provincial water sources, and the serious health problems associated with the industry, we are also confronted by the virtual certainty of air pollution resulting from development of unconventional shale oil and gas,” says Denise Melanson.
Melanson also notes that shale gas is a major contributor to climate change, and that climate change is a threat to all life on the planet.
In the News:
(from Telegraph Journal, March 20, 2014)
FREDERICTON – A new coalition of community groups and labour unions has formed the largest concerted effort to date in opposition to shale gas development and hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick.
The group that includes the Council of Canadians, the New Brunswick Anti Shale Gas Alliance, Unifor, and the province’s conservation council has announced a new campaign with plans to visit every corner of the province to provide “public education about shale gas, clean jobs, and clean energy.”
At least another seven others are in the works.
The coalition also includes the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, the Fredericton and District Labour Council, and the National Farmers Union.
Green Party Leader David Coon is also a part of the group.
“We will be asking the people in our communities several questions,” said Jim Emberger, a spokesman for the anti-shale gas alliance. “Do we know everything we need to know about shale gas? Is shale gas the only way to create jobs? What do you want in your backyard?
“Over the past four years, there’s been little or no public consultations or meetings initiated by the government or the industry, so people are organizing themselves.”
He added: “In addition, the government of New Brunswick has failed to provide the public with peer-reviewed scientific evidence of the harmful effects of shale gas fracking and shale gas development. The people are not getting in the information that they need.”
Emberger said the town hall-style meetings will provide an overview of scientific evidence on the effects of shale gas, specifically hydraulic fracturing.
He said a long-term health study from the University of Colorado’s school of public health completed roughly two years ago will be presented. Newer studies from the University of Missouri and Colorado underscoring health impacts will also be reviewed.
Alternatives to the industry will also be brainstormed, namely clean energy initiatives.
Emberger cites a report by environmental alliance Blue Green Canada that states for the same investment there are seven times as many jobs with clean energy and building efficiency than there is with the oil and gas industry.
“We want to talk about economic development,” said Jean Louis Deveau, chair of the Fredericton chapter of the Council of Canadians. “Our premier is focused on the dig it out, cut it down, and ship it out economy.
“We think there are all kinds of opportunities in clean energy that we haven’t even started to talk about.”
Grassroots groups say the consolidated effort against shale gas will ensure they are better heard.
“There are community organizations, but they weren’t united with a strategic plan and an approach to dealing with both the industry and the government on this issue,” said Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County spokesperson Roy Ries. “This is our opportunity to present information to the public and they can make a choice, otherwise they are being asked to make a choice in ignorance of a lot of the facts.”
Conservation Council of New Brunswick spokeswoman Stephanie Merrill said the tour presents the opportunity to reach people unsure about the shale gas industry.
“The public feels quite overloaded and daunted, not really quite sure what to do, how to participate, and how to respond,” she said. “These opportunities to get directly out to the public with presentations and opportunities for people to ask questions and also participate in discussions is a really good, direct way of engaging people at the local level.”
A first stop is scheduled for Fredericton on March 24.
New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance calls for a ten-year, legislated and unconditional moratorium on shale gas and oil activities.
MONCTON, NB (March 6, 2014) – Today, the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) announced its position on a shale gas moratorium – the minimum standard to which the Alliance will hold political parties in this year’s September 22 provincial election.
“We are calling for a ten-year, legislated and unconditional moratorium on all unconventional oil and gas exploration and production in New Brunswick,” said NBASGA spokesperson Jim Emberger. “During that period, all existing leases must be cancelled and no new leases granted.”
The moratorium must be enacted by binding legislation, because “campaign promises, executive actions and vague intentions are not good enough.”
A ten-year moratorium, rather than a ban, recognizes that there may still be New Brunswickers who have doubts about shale gas, but who are not yet convinced that an absolute ban is warranted.
“NBASGA is confident that after ten years, shale gas will be permanently banned as a result of what is learned during the moratorium,” he said, adding that, ‘we use shale gas as shorthand for unconventional oil and gas.”
NBASGA rejects any notion that we should rely on two future reports from Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“These reports are far too narrow in scope,” Emberger noted. The EPA focuses solely “on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources” and says its report intentionally does not study the effects of shale gas on air pollution, public safety, specific health problems, ecological effects, seismic risks, etc. The Environment Canada report is likely to be useful only as a means to identify areas for study. The creditability of both agencies has been damaged by gross interference by politicians and the industry.
Ten years is the minimum time necessary to do the required long-term scientific studies on all the aspects of shale gas, many of which remain unstudied. Every day, newly-discovered problems arise that merit research.
Emberger said, “The only existing long-term public health study of shale gas, which spanned only three years, revealed substantially increased risks for cancer and diseases, some of which may take years to develop. Recent studies focusing on specific factors indicate that living near shale gas wells increases instances of low birth weight babies, poor infant health, congenital heart defects, and exposure to endocrine disruptors.”
All these studies have identified health problems occurring at distances well beyond all regulatory setbacks from gas and oil wells, and indicate that air pollution may be a more serious health threat than the water contamination that has caused so much concern. Emberger noted that, “All the studies call for more research, and there are no studies suggesting the industry is safe.”
History is littered with instances where the lack of sufficient testing has resulted in tragedy.
Examples of how the premature use of chemicals has cost countless lives and left lasting environmental damage include: asbestos, lead, mercury, radium, DDT, and a host of industrial chemicals such as PCB’s, CFC’s and dioxins. Many of the 650 fracking chemicals are known toxins and carcinogens, but many more have never been tested for health hazards.
We are not the only ones voicing serious concerns.
“Traditional oil patch cities in Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania are now calling for moratoriums or bans on shale gas. Wouldn’t it be prudent to take the time to find out why?” Emberger asked.
Our international obligations to stop catastrophic climate change will require us to forego new fossil fuels and switch to alternative clean energy.
In conclusion, Emberger said, “The good news is that the clean energies are, by far, the fastest growing sectors of the energy industry, and they create huge numbers of jobs. Following that path for ten years should be the proper responsible and moral role for our government.”
About the NBASGA
The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance represents the interests of New Brunswickers opposed to unconventional gas and oil exploration and development, while promoting a future in clean energy alternatives.
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.