NBASGA Says Put People First in Shale Gas Moratorium

17 12 2014
Anti-Shale Gas Alliance wants government to put people first
COLE HOBSON TIMES & TRANSCRIPT

NBSGA  2014The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance has renewed a call for government to “put people before politics” when it comes to the shale gas industry.   “We recognize that the government is under significant pressure from the oil and gas lobby, in both public and private, to reverse or weaken its decision (for a moratorium), and its promise to the electorate,” said alliance spokesman Jim Emberger, in a press conference held Tuesday at Capitol Theatre in Moncton.“This is no less than a direct attempt by industry to subvert the will and voice of the people and therefore, is also a direct attempt to undermine our democratic process.”   Emberger noted that the alliance’s representatives from 22 community organizations have continued working to educate the public about the negative impacts of shale gas over the past four years and still continue to do so.   He said they have also talked with many MLAs who admit they don’t have a thorough understanding of the issue.   “Along with the disinformation that the industry is pushing through the media, the Liberal caucus needs to hear the compelling research coming from scientists and economists with no ties to the industry,”he said, noting the alliance has“the ability and willingness”to supply that research.   Emberger said they are pleased to see the government standing by the commitment to enact a moratorium, but said it “must be a moratorium that reflects a clear understanding of the many concerns and issues; one that protects all people in New Brunswick, particularly those who live in the targeted lease areas.”   Denise Melanson, a New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance spokeswoman, said there is a growing amount of peer-reviewed science that details the potential dangers of the shale gas industry. She highlighted the “Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking” published and updated by the concerned Health Professionals of New York, as one source of concerning information that is “very current, very appropriate.”   The alliance criticized the recently published book Shale Gas In New Brunswick, Towards a Better Understanding, released by the Canadian Institute for Research on Public Policy and Public Administration.   Melanson said this book didn’t contain enough factual evidence and peer-reviewed science and didn’t go into any detail about critical aspects like the industry’s potential impact on air quality.   “This decision is difficult to understand since air pollution has emerged as one of the greatest problems related to this industry and the one that possess the greatest immediate threat to health,”she said.   The alliance also used its press conference to tout the values of developing a clean energy sector in the province, noting there are good returns on investment available, as well as significant job creation opportunities.   Recommendations were made to the Gallant government to help kick-start such an industry, by implementing policy to have every building in the province become energy efficient over time; implement policy to generate 1,200 MW of power via renewable energy by 2020 and also to fund the Energy Institute to research and develop opportunities in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sector.   “If we pursued making every building in our province energy efficient with the same vigour the Alward government pursued shale gas, we would see gains and improvements in our fiscal situation and see significantly more people employed in this province,”said alliance spokeswoman Liane Thiboudeau .   “By ignoring the green energy sector, New Brunswick is losing out on tremendous opportunities. We can’t afford to continue missing out on these opportunities.”

Denise Melanson and Jim Emberger of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance. PHOTO: GREG AGNEW/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT

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