Party Leader Reactions to Nova Scotia Ban on Fracking

4 09 2014
SHAWN BERRY LEGISLATURE BUREAU

Word the Nova Scotia government will prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing for onshore shale gas has prompted reaction from parties out on the New Brunswick campaign trail.   The question of exploiting a shale gas industry in New Brunswick has been billed as a central issue in the race leading up to the Sept. 22 election.   Nova Scotia’s Liberal government announced Wednesday that it will introduce legislation this fall to prohibit fracking for an indefinite amount of time.   Progressive Conservative Leader David Alward has made development of natural resources – and particularly shale gas – a centrepiece of his campaign.   “If Nova Scotia is saying no to the development of our natural resources, including shale gas, then they’re saying no to becoming a have economy and have province. That’s a decision that the government there has to make,”he said Wednesday.   “We’re confident that New Brunswickers want to say yes to building our province, want to say yes to being able to have the 22,000 New Brunswickers who are working outside our province have the chance to come home. We’re working on that every day, and we’re focused on that.”   Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Brian Gallant, who supports a moratorium on shale gas development, said the move is not surprising given that Quebec and Newfoundland have moratoriums on hydraulic fracturing.   Gallant said it’s clear the risks aren’t fully understood. He wants to see more research on whether the industry is safe.   “Many jurisdictions are taking the responsible approach and are placing a moratorium. Newfoundland has a very important oil industry. Nova Scotia has an important natural gas industry – but both provinces feel hydraulic fracturing should not be done right now because there just isn’t enough information about the risks, how to mitigate those risks,how to regulate those risks and how to enforce those regulations.”   NDP Leader Dominic Cardy also reacted to the announcement saying it is in line with his own party’s position.   “It’s the same thing we’re talking about here – don’t do anything unless you can prove it is safe and you can make money off of it. The Nova Scotia Liberal government is taking the same approach”   Cardy said the Liberals have been very careful about talking about new shale gas licences and not the existing ones.   “It would be very interesting to see given that they talk about the (Nova Scotia) government when it was useful for them.(Let’s) see how they follow their example now.”   Paul Barnes, the Atlantic Canada representative for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the organization was disappointed with the announcement out of Nova Scotia.   “We think the decision was based on reports that largely omitted the knowledge and experience of not only industry experts in Western Canada but also industry regulators and governments in Western Canada, where fracking has been used safely for over 50 years now.”   Barnes said it’s a reaction to recent reports that did not take into account some of the scientific work in relation to protection of the environment.   “In Western Canada, where activities have occurred for over 50 years, people have grown up around it. They are used to that kind of activity in and around their communities. In Atlantic Canada, onshore activity is relatively new. People are not educated enough on the activity itself and the safeguards around it. So there are fears and questions, which is understandable.”   Nova Scotia Energy Minister Andrew Younger said Nova Scotians have made it clear they are not comfortable with fracking and that the ban will remain in place until the province’s population is ready to embrace the industry.   “There is not a community in this province …where there’s a large number of people pushing to allow hydraulic fracturing,”Younger told a news conference in Halifax. The recources belong to the people of Nova Scotia,and they get to decide how they are harnessed”   In making the announcement, Younger pointed to a key study released in April by an independent group of Canadian scientists.   The Council of Canadian Academies concluded that even though fracking could produce big economic benefits across Canada,there is significant uncertainty on the risks to the environment and human health. “That contributed quite a bit to this debate,”Younger said.   Younger’s announcement came less than a week after a panel of Nova Scotia experts released a report saying fracking shouldn’t be allowed until more independent research is done on health, environmental and economic impacts.   – With files from Chris Morris,Adam Huras and Karissa Donkin

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Protesters gather outside the Nova Scotia legislature in Halifax to show their opposition to the use of hydraulic fracturing on April 22, 2011. The Nova Scotia government says it will introduce legislation this fall to prohibit high-volume hydraulic fracturing for onshore shale gas.   Photo: Andrew VAughAn/the CAnAdIAn PreSS

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