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Giles and Kavanagh oppose fracking at Newfoundland & Labrador review panel hearing

 Angela Giles

Ken KavanaghCouncil of Canadians organizer Angela Giles and Board member Ken Kavanagh have made it clear to the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel (NLHFRP) that they are opposed to fracking.

In November 2013, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador established a temporary de facto moratorium on fracking. In August 2014, the province announced an independent review panel would make recommendations to the Minister of Natural Resources on whether the moratorium should remain in place or be lifted. The panel accepted written and artistic comments (including from our St. John’s chapter) through to June 1 and has now held public hearings in Rocky Harbour (Oct. 13), Stephenville (Oct. 14), Port au Port East (Oct. 15) and Corner Brook (Oct. 16). The panel’s final report had been expected this month, but it is now expected in February 2016.

On Tuesday in Rocky Harbour, Giles noted, “There were about twelve scheduled presentations, all given ten minutes to present and an additional ten minutes to respond to any questions from the panel members. All presenters were opposed to fracking, with some going beyond just fracking to talk about the overall oil and gas industry and climate change impacts.”

Then on Wednesday in Stephenville, Giles observed, “The packed room of about 130 people had standing room only, with the majority holding a sign as their ‘silent submission’. Panel chair Ray Gosine commented a couple of times that it’s clear how most people feel about fracking given the sea of red and white ‘Don’t Frack NL’ signs in the room. There were again about 12 scheduled presentations. Again all presenters were opposed to fracking.”

And on Thursday in Port au Port East, Giles wrote, “The parish hall was packed with between 175-200 people who attended the meeting, with a pretty rowdy and vocal crowd who chided the panel for not having more balance, booed the two pro-industry presenters, and talked back to the chair. More questions were raised regarding bias of panel, including a strong challenge and exposing of industry ties for each panelist, as they squirmed or smirked arrogantly.”

Last night in Corner Brook, the Western Star reports, “The majority of the crowd that attended Friday’s session were opposed to fracking. Most of the speakers made it known they weren’t impressed with the make-up of the five-member review panel because there was no representation from women, indigenous people or the local area where people have a keen sense of the issues of concern.”

That article highlights, “Angela Giles, Atlantic regional organizer for the Council of Canadians, said protection of water resources is something dear to the hundreds of Newfoundlanders the Council represents. Giles wanted to ensure those in the room had an understanding of the enormous amount of water used in the fracking process, pointing out that a fracking project in this province could require up to 200 million litres of water. She also noted that there have been many drinking water advisories in the province in the past couple of years, so permitting fracking could further threaten water supplies through contamination and through the risk of literally running the well dry.”

Yesterday Giles tweeted, “@KenJKavanagh blasts the #nlhfrp for their lack of impartiality and ties to industry” and Kavanagh tweeted, “Wow, our @angiles started by recognizing we are on unceded Mi’kmaq territory with rousing applause. She is rockin’. Go Angela.” St. John’s chapter activist Paula Graham also spoke at yesterday’s hearing.

For more information about each of the hearings that took place this week, please see the numerous tweets by @KenJKavanagh and @angiles.

Further reading
WIN! Gros Morne fracking proponent loses exploration licence (December 2013 blog)
Council of Canadians congratulates N.L. government, calls for an independent review of fracking (December 2013 media release)
Council joins call for independent review of fracking in Newfoundland & Labrador (May 2014 blog)
Newfoundland & Labrador fracking review fails to consider climate change (November 2014 blog)
St. John’s chapter hosts ‘submission writing party’ against fracking (April 2015 blog)
St. John’s chapter continues to organize fracking review panel submission parties (May 2015 blog)
St. John’s chapter speaks at media conference opposed to fracking (May 2015 blog)
NL fracking consultations set to begin next week (October 2015 blog by Angela Giles)
NL fracking consultations: Rocky Harbour / Gros Morne, night 1 (October 2015 blog by Angela Giles)
NL fracking consultations: Stephenville, night 2 (October 2015 blog by Angela Giles)
NL fracking consultations: Port-au-Port East, night 3 (October 2015 blog by Angela Giles)

Photos: Kavanagh and Giles present to the fracking review panel in Corner Brook.