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Fredericton chapter welcomes fracking legislation

Mark D'ArcyNew Brunswick premier Brian Gallant has introduced legislation for a provincial moratorium on fracking.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Mark D’Arcy of the Council of Canadians, who has attended anti-shale gas rallies across the province, said he believes many New Brunswickers support the government’s decision. ‘This is a great Christmas present’, he said.”

That article adds, “Gallant placed [five] conditions on the legislation including a process to consult with First Nations, a plan that mitigates the impact on public infrastructure and addresses waste water disposal and credible information about the effects fracking has on health, water and the environment.” And significantly CBC reports, “Gallant said there will be no ‘grandfathering’ of projects already underway that allows fracking to take place outside of the moratorium.”

The Globe and Mail notes, “A number of companies are exploring for shale gas in the province and Corridor Resources recently fracked wells in the Penobsquis area that are used to supply gas to the nearby Potash Corp. mine. Gallant said such operations would be allowed to continue under the legislation, as long as they don’t rely on fracking. …Corridor Resources president Steve Moran said his company doesn’t support the moratorium. …Moran said Corridor Resources and its partners have spent more than $500 million exploring for oil and natural gas in New Brunswick since 1995, drilling 46 wells and completing 120 hydraulic fracture simulations.”

There had been concerns that the moratorium would allow fracking to continue in Penobsquis. In October, Global News reported, “Critics said the government may be straying from that position after the province’s energy minister was quoted in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal saying a ‘regional’ moratorium is an option the government is considering. …A regional moratorium would mean Corridor Resources could continue fracking in the Sussex area, supplying natural gas to the nearby Potash mine. …Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy, with the Council of Canadians, says the government’s moratorium promise is something they need to make sure happens. ‘A moratorium means for the whole province, it doesn’t mean for the whole province except for Penobsquis.'”

While there is much to celebrate with today’s announcement, we’ll also need to see if there are NAFTA implications to follow. Earlier this fall, CBC reported, “[McGill University law professor Andrea] Bjorklund said the Liberals will have to review what kind of promises were made to the 10 companies who have leases or licences for shale gas in the province [or possibly face an investor-state lawsuit].”

To date there are provincial moratoriums on fracking in Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Further reading
Fredericton chapter fights against exclusion of Penobsquis from provincial fracking moratorium (October 2014 blog)
Fracking a key issue in the defeat of the Alward government in New Brunswick (September 2014 blog)
Spectre of NAFTA investor-state challenge looms over fracking moratorium in New Brunswick (October 2014 blog)

Photo: Fredericton chapter activist Mark D’Arcy.