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Fredericton chapter says there is “no social licence” for fracking in New Brunswick

Fredericton chapter

Fredericton chapter tells commission this morning there is “no social licence” for fracking in New Brunswick. From left to right, Fredericton chapter activists Garry Guild, Terry Wishart, Joan Green, Maggie Connell and Mark D’Arcy.

The Council of Canadians Fredericton chapter held up signs at a media conference this morning to make it clear there is no social licence for fracking in New Brunswick.

In Dec. 2014, the New Brunswick government legislated a moratorium on fracking in the province. Premier Brian Gallant said that moratorium would not be lifted until five conditions are met: 1) social licence; 2) a process to consult with First Nations; 3) a plan for wastewater disposal; 4) credible information on the impacts of fracking on health, water and the environment; 5) the development of a royalty structure. Just a few months later, in March 2015, CBC reported, “The New Brunswick government has appointed a commission to study hydraulic fracturing and report back to cabinet within one year on whether the government’s conditions for shale gas development can be met.”

That commission released its report today.

CBC reports, “The three-volume document by the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing avoids urging the Gallant government to come down on one side of the issue or the other. But it lays out a long and detailed list of steps the provincial government should take if it does allow shale gas development to go ahead. They include:

  • A single, independent regulator to eliminate the problem of government departments that both promote and regulate resources industries.

  • A new “environment and energy strategy” to shift the province to a knowledge economy that depends less on carbon energy, a shift the private sector should embrace, according to the commission.

  • A new relationship with aboriginal people, which the commission says is essential if the government is going to meet its constitutional duty to consult them.

  • A plan to deal with fracking wastewater, which should be in place before any commercial production begins.

  • A royalty structure that doesn’t fluctuate to accommodate ups and downs in volatile world gas prices.”

The commission announced its findings at the Crowne Plaza in Fredericton this morning.

The Fredericton chapter was there with signs to make it clear there is no “social licence” for fracking in New Brunswick. Fredericton chapter activist Maggie Connell adds, “We stand with our Indigenous allies including Ron Tremblay, Grand Chief of the Wolastoq Grand Council. This report clearly recognizes the constitutional duty to consult Indigenous peoples, highlighting a critical reason a legislated moratorium is needed.”

Kent County chapter activist Denise Melanson was also there this morning. She says, “Based on the Commission’s report, the government of New Brunswick must commit to a legislated moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the province. All five conditions, including social licence, have not been met and will require a lot of work. To give the people of this province some piece of mind and some security, the government should close the book on this industry.”

Halifax-based Council of Canadians organizer Angela Giles highlights, “Based on the submissions posted on the Commission’s website, it is clear that social license in New Brunswick does not exist. How many reports and panels and commissions will be needed for government to legislate this moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the province?”

In our Nov. 20, 2015 submission to the commission, signed by Giles, Kent County chapter activist Ann Pohl, Saint John chapter activist Carol Ring, Fredericton chapter activist Louis Deveau, Moncton chapter activist Pamela Ross, and water campaigner Emma Lui, we stated, “The Council of Canadians, our supporters and Chapter members oppose fracking because of its immense water use, its high carbon emissions, its impacts on human health and the environment, the few jobs it creates while also threatening our tourism industry and the danger it poses to groundwater and local drinking water. We are calling for a country-wide halt on fracking operations, including here in New Brunswick, and will continue to work with people in communities to achieve this.”

The Council of Canadians and its four New Brunswick chapters are calling on the Gallant government to recognize it has no choice but to extend the fracking moratorium, after the report it commissioned demonstrated that its five conditions for lifting the moratorium have not been met.