Atlantic Chamber Condemns Continuation of Fracking Moratorium

 

Atlantic Chamber Condemns Continuation of Fracking Moratorium 

The Atlantic Chamber of Commerce (ACC) is expressing extreme disappointment in the New Brunswick government’s announcement that the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing will continue indefinitely.

“The government’s decision to extend the moratorium does not indicate a full recognition of the enormous potential benefits to a provincial economy that is struggling to achieve growth” said Valerie Roy, CEO of the ACC. “Neither does it recognize that the industry has operated safely and responsibly for decades in New Brunswick and across Canada.”

The Minister’s statement that the Liberal government is committed to creating jobs is not demonstrated in its response to the report from the Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing. If the government were truly interested in adding millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to the economy, they would acknowledge that:

1. It is a necessary requirement is that the government provide a standard by which they will determine whether social licence has been achieved. Recent surveys indicate that more than 50% of the public support for proceeding with shale gas exploration.

2. That the lack of confirmed systematic negative impacts on public health should support the objective of developing a world-class regulatory regime, but there is no evidence that government has made progress on this condition.

3. Environmentally-friendly waste water remediation technology exists and can be built based on the standards and regulation imposed by government.

4. The onus for developing and implementing a consultation process with First Nations rests with government. Industry, if asked, has welcomed the opportunity to inform stakeholders about the environmental and economic characteristics of shale gas exploration and development.

5. In addition to the extensive economic spin-offs and growth in supply chain opportunities associated with development of natural gas, there is no question that a process of negotiating an equitable royalty structure will be an essential discussion between industry and government.

To contend that industry has not, and will not in the foreseeable future, meet the five conditions for lifting the moratorium creates the impression that the current government does not intend to actively engage in creating the conditions for responsible resource development. Instead of citing how industry has not met the conditions for lifting the ban on a practice that is executed responsibly across the continent, the public would have been better served in hearing:

 how government has conceived a process for creating an independent regulator to monitor and enforce responsible limitations on activity;

 the progress with the industry on mitigating impacts on public infrastructure;

 a description of government minimum standards for wastewater recovery and conditions for disposal;

 what steps the government has taken to create a meaningful dialogue with First Nations on resource development and transportation.

The ACC contends that the indefinite continuation of the moratorium clearly communicates to business and the public that the province is not open for business and will not participate in efforts to objectively evaluate the risks, regulate the industry and access its potential benefits. The loss of jobs in exploration, acquisition of technical expertise and development of local supply chains due to the moratorium will be compounded by the declining availability of natural gas in our region, resulting in significantly higher costs for imported energy.

It is our fervent hope that the government will reconsider today’s announcement and adopt a more active and progressive approach to addressing the mandatory conditions. The Industry continues to acknowledge and address public and environmental safety concerns as identified. It is essential that government become an active partner addressing the conditions as well.