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Maritimes residents united in opposition to shale gas and fracking industry

Atlantic Regional Organizer Angela Giles introduces Dr. Anthony Ingraffea at the conference on Saturday, as Jessica Ernst and conference participants listen

Phew – Saturday was an amazing day!! Over 100 people from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island came together in Truro NS today to network with others across the region struggling to achieve the same goal: protect their communities.

“Protecting Our Communities: A Conference on Shale Gas and Fracking” wrapped up just after 4pm on Saturday, and there is a great amount of appreciation for this conference having taken place. The timing of it seemed perfect, given that all three provinces are now seeing popular opposition to the industry, and regardless of the fact that all three provinces are in very different stages of dealing with the fracking industry.

In terms of participation, the Council of Canadians was well-represented, with chapter members from Saint John and Tantramar (NB), North Shore and Halifax (NS), as well as the Charlottetown PEI all in attendance (Inverness County sent their regrets)! There were just as many ordinary (unaffiliated) citizens at this conference as there were affiliated, who included environmental groups, elected labour, and social justice activists.

The day consisted of a presentation and question and answer period with Dr. Anthony Ingraffea (rock fracture expert and professor from Cornell University), a panel discussion on a variety of concerns about this industry with special guest speaker Jessica Ernst (environmental scientist from Rosebud Alberta who has a legal challenge against the province along with EnCana relating to fracking), and then several workshops (see for the full list and agenda from the day). Workshops on Groundwater and geology, First Nations perspectives, and provincial regulations and how the government makes them seemed to garner the most participants.

Outcomes: Some of the feedback was that people are now feeling part of a broader movement, are even more informed on how to combat some industry myths about the practice, and motivated to go back to their communities and continue the work they have been doing with even more vigour! Conference organizers (including myself) were extremely pleased with the day, along with the Friday evening event in Halifax, and are determined to do another before too long!

A huge thanks to all of the conference volunteers, including the workshop facilitators and Billy Lewis, Mi’kmaq elder, and to fellow organizers Jennifer West (EAC), Barb Harris (from northern NS), and Ali Vervaeke (who works with me in the Atlantic Regional Office)!!!

Fracking resources table, including new Council placard