Fracking belongs in this province

Valerie Roy commentary
Telegraph Journal – October 4, 2016

Not surprisingly, the vocal minority is once again pouncing on those who stand up and support hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick in the recent letter to the editor entitled ‘Not everyone wants the return of fracking.’

All too often over the last several years, the public has heard from the vocal minority because they are exceedingly passionate about their cause and because, quite frankly, it’s easy for the ‘loudest’ to be heard over a ‘silent’ majority. However, as we have seen from the Sussex business community, silence does not mean agreement.

So it is unfortunate, but not surprising, when a group of business leaders stand up to voice their opinion and support natural gas development, based on their first-hand experience—they are criticized and their opinions condemned.

But they know what we know. Hydraulic Fracturing is safe. It’s being used to develop natural gas resources in many provinces, states and countries elsewhere in the world. It is building stronger economies and providing much needed jobs. And the natural gas being developed is fueling cleaner power generation and being used to transition to renewable energy sources.

How do we know it’s safe?

Over the last several years study after study has been conducted by respected, science-based organizations on the practice of hydraulic fracturing and its potential impacts to the environment and water, and all continue to yield the same findings: no evidence of contamination to water, regulatory frameworks protect the public and environment, the risks can be managed, and under best practices and robust regulatory frameworks hydraulic fracturing can be done safely.

Scientific studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency, The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering in the U.K., Council of Canadian Academies, Geological Survey of Canada, California Council of Science & Technology, Nova Scotia Independent Review Panel and numerous universities in the United States such as Yale, Duke Stanford, Syracuse, Michigan, and MIT have all studied these issues and not one organization has ever concluded to stop or to ban the practice.

The fact of the matter is, in Canada we have one of the strongest performance records for environmental protection globally. And in NB, industry has demonstrated their commitment to operating safely and reliably for more than 30 years with no incidents.

So why is it so easy for people to believe the naysayers and the assumptions that ‘absolute catastrophe’ will occur if we explore and develop our natural gas resources in NB—when we have seen no evidence of that here or out west for that matter (where people enjoyed booming economies with plenty of jobs because of this industry)?

We caution New Brunswickers not to take any claims that are made at face value. Take the time to review the research and conclusions made in the studies such claims mention. It is not appropriate or ethical to select only partial quotations or statements from a study and generate conclusions tailored to fit the anti-fracking narrative. One must look at the whole study and its ultimate conclusion after considering all of the facts just as the scientists who conduct the studies do. It’s called the scientific method and in an industrial society, it’s what we rely on to guide our thinking and actions.

Ultimately, there is only one way we can continue to build public confidence. We need to let the government regulate the industry and let industry actively demonstrate through their day-to-day work that what they do is safe and responsible.

After 30 years with no incident we believe their record speaks for itself.

Let’s explore for and develop natural gas in New Brunswick.

Valerie Roy, CEO, The Atlantic Chamber of Commerce and New Brunswick Responsible Energy Development Alliance member