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NEWS: Sackville rejects hydro-fracking on town-owned land

The Sackville Tribune Post reports that, “A number of Sackville residents and members of town council are concerned the risks may simply be too high to allow an exploration company to search for natural gas resources on a tract of land bordering the town.”

“(Last month) councillors voted to deny Petroworth Resources Inc. exploration rights to conduct seismic testing on any town-owned land within the Sackville Basin area. The councillors who voted against the testing cited a lack of policies regulating the onshore gas and oil development industry in the province as the reasoning behind their decision, as well as the potential environmental consequences that could result from the drilling process if gas is found.”

“The regulation and management of oil and natural gas exploration and development in New Brunswick falls primarily under the jurisdiction of the departments of Natural Resources and Environment, with several other departments also playing a role as required.”

“Sam McEwan, acting deputy minister for the Land, Minerals and Petroleum Division of the Department of Natural Resources, argued that there are strict standards and regulations that companies are required to follow in New Brunswick when engaged in exploration, development or production of oil or natural gas resources. …But some residents weren’t buying the province’s arguments, continuing to voice concerns over the possible environmental results stemming from a process known as hydraulic fracturing (or fraccing), which is used to draw out the natural gas found in shale deposits underground. The process involves drilling a horizontal well, then pumping a fluid (typically water mixed with additives) through it under high pressure to create or open fractures. The concern is that any water pumped into the well could flow back out mixed with chemicals and toxic materials, polluting the surrounding environment.”

A letter to the editor of the Times & Transcript notes that, “The New Brunswick Green Party is calling on the provincial government to respect the democratic decision of the Town of Sackville to prohibit oil and gas exploration within municipal boundaries.”

The article notes that about 40 wells have already been drilled in New Brunswick using hydraulic fracturing. In March we highlighted that US-owned Apache Canada Ltd. and Halifax-based Corridor Resources Inc. were set to begin drilling and exploration work for natural gas in the Elgin area of southern New Brunswick in June. This natural gas in the Frederick Brook formation will require hydraulic fracturing to access. Corridor Resources already operates gas wells and a pipeline in the Penobsquis area east of Sussex. More than 50 homes in the Penobsquis area have been without drinking water for more than five years. Many residents blame this situation on the local potash mine, but also on the 3-D and 2-D seismic testing done by Corridor Resources.

The Toronto Star reported in March that Calgary-based Mooncor Oil & Gas Corp. has been buying land rights in southwestern Ontario for shale gas drilling. Mooncor intends to drill in the Kettle Point Formation known as Antrim Shale in Lambton and Kent counties, and the Collingwood/Blue Mountain formations known as Utica Shale. “It has already locked up nearly 23,000 acres of land in Lambton and Kent counties…” The Toronto Star noted, “A green light from regulators could unleash a wave of shale-gas development in Ontario.”

Rabble.ca has reported that hydraulic fracturing is already happending “in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick, and there are plans to establish the practice in Quebec and Nova Scotia.”
The full Sackville Tribune Post article is at http://www.sackvilletribunepost.com/News/2010-08-12/article-1671071/Sackville-residents,-councillors-concerned-over-environmental-consequences-of-natural-gas-development/1. The letter to the editor is at http://timestranscript.canadaeast.com/opinion/article/1150921.

Four other campaign blogs on hydraulic fracturing can be read at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?s=%22fracturing%22.