The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce and Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce are disappointed with the announcement by Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault earlier today that the Province’s hydraulic fracturing moratorium would be extended indefinitely effectively banning the industry and related economic development opportunities in New Brunswick.
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.
“The New Brunswick government is conveying a message that we are not open for business. With a provincial economy that is struggling to achieve growth, opportunities in creating thousands of jobs and adding millions of dollars to the economy must be realized.” said David Duplisea, CEO of the Saint John Region Chamber. “This clearly communicates to business and the public that New Brunswick is not willing to evaluate risks, regulate industry and access potential benefits” adds Carol O’Reilly, CEO of the Moncton Chamber.
The fact that the oil and gas industry is currently on a downswing makes this the ideal time time to work out the issues stated by Minister Arsenault. Preparing now for the inevitable rebound the province will be in a position to take advantage of more favourable market conditions in the future.
“The conditions that government set in late 2014 as well as the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing’s recommendations in February 2016 are primarily actions that the government has to accomplish or at a minimum take a leadership role,” Krista Ross, Fredericton Chamber CEO. “Consultations with First Nations and a wastewater treatment plan are prime examples. These are not things that industry can do independently from government. To put the failure to meet those conditions and recommendations solely on industry is disappointing.”
More than half of New Brunswickers support the development of this industry and hydraulic fracturing has been done safely in New Brunswick and elsewhere for decades. The Government of New Brunswick regulates many different industries and the tricity chambers of commerce have confidence that they can responsibly regulate this one as well.