Recommends consultation with Chief Medical Health Officer
The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) welcomes the government’s announcement of a commission to evaluate the impacts of hydraulic fracturing. A year may be sufficient time to allow the review of all the current science and medical research. However, it must be noted that such research has only begun in earnest over the last couple of years. It is accelerating rapidly, it is increasingly identifying new health threats, and it is raising new issues that will require years of further study before they can be resolved.
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This is why we remain confident that when the commission completes its work it will find, as have other commissions in Quebec, New York, Nova Scotia, Maryland and elsewhere, that the moratorium should be extended or made permanent.
At this point we do not know the commission’s specific charge, its operating procedures for gathering evidence, or its accessibility by the public. We reserve judgment on those matters. We hope the general public, as well as informed, citizen organizations, like NBASGA, will be involved.
We do question the decision to not make the report public until after a decision is made by the government. This is not transparent and does not contribute to the informed consent on which “social licence” is based.
We are glad that Minister Arsenault included references to the report of the Chief Medical Officer for Health. That report and the resident expertise in the CMOH’s office are valuable assets, which we hope the commission will consult. We likewise assume the commission will take advantage of the mountain of evidence already amassed by the commissions in other jurisdictions. With only a year to study the subject, it is not necessary or advisable to start from scratch.
Finally, our greatest hope is that while the commission is doing its work, our legislators will at least be able to spend their time on matters that can actually solve New Brunswick’s economic problems, create permanent jobs, preserve our indispensable environment and help to fight climate change.