By Jim Emberger – Special to Brunswick News – Published Apr 15, 2024

The Telegraph Journal’s editorial board advice (Editorial: Drop NB’s gas moratorium, Apr 11, 2024),  to Premier Blaine Higgs, to lift the fracking moratorium, without satisfying the conditions for doing so, was shocking in its lack of both historic and scientific context.

Ten years ago, the provincial government convened a non-partisan Commission of Hydro-Fracturing, which took weeks of testimony from residents, industries, NGOs and expert witnesses from public health and science specialties. This resulted in the Gallant government establishing a moratorium on fracking, which was to be maintained indefinitely, unless several conditions were met.

Additional Letter to the Editor, Times & Transcript, April 13, 2024

As of today, none of those conditions have been met. The most often cited condition requires meaningful consultation with First Nations – undoubtedly a result of the violent, dramatic RCMP raid on their camp at Elsipogtog. From all indications, such consultations have not occurred.

Other consultations, including with all residents, are required by another condition – to establish “social licence.” In 10 years there has been no attempt by government to achieve that acceptance. To do so would have required the province to meet a third condition – scientific proof fracking could be done safely.

Concerned residents have continuously tracked the growing number of serious health problems associated with fracking, along with air and water pollution, enormous water usage, and methane’s huge contribution to the rapidly worsening climate crisis.

Then there is the still unsolved problem, specifically mentioned in the conditions, of disposing of oceans of toxic wastewater. (In March, in what has become a common occurrence, Alberta recorded another 4.4 magnitude earthquake caused by wastewater disposal.)

With no proof, no solutions and no consultations, there can be no social licence. If the government were to lift the moratorium arbitrarily, disregarding the conditions, it could expose itself to legal actions.

For the editorial board to promote such an autocratic action, putting residents at risk, is unconscionable.

Jim Emberger is spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance