Shale gas is a boon for New Brunswick, Environment Minister Peter Kent says

Shale gas is a boon for New Brunswick, Environment Minister Peter Kent says by Jane Taber, February 13, 2013, The Globe and Mail
The federal Environment Minister is voicing support for shale-gas exploration in New Brunswick as the province struggles to avoid being left behind in the Atlantic region’s pursuit of energy resources. Peter Kent acknowledges that having a “drill rig in one’s backyard is not the most pleasant of visions” but added the potential economic benefits to a province like New Brunswick “are significant.” His support follows that of former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna, who delivered a strongly worded speech in Saint John this week, arguing the province is facing “unprecedented challenges to our survivability.” New Brunswick is the only province east of Manitoba not to have a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” as the controversial drilling technique is called. The province, desperately searching for an economic boost, is trying to build a case for shale-gas exploration.

On Friday, the province will release new rules governing exploration and development activities with an eye to having several companies in the field this summer and conducting test drills by 2014.
It wants to see how much of the resource it has and whether it can be extracted economically. This, despite criticism from environmentalists and calls for a moratorium from the province’s Liberal opposition, the party Mr. McKenna once led.

Mr. Kent, meanwhile, seems to have no qualms. “I would say there has been a little bit of, again, exaggeration, misrepresentation and even scare journalism in terms of overstating the risk [of fracking],” Mr. Kent said in an interview. “… The technology and the chemicals – the cocktails or the soups that have been used – the technology has improved significantly in recent decades.”

Just last week, the Federal Environment Commissioner called for more vigorous enforcement of regulations in an effort to keep up with the resource industry boom in Canada. He specifically mentioned shale-gas production. He said that if environmental controls lag, it will result in damage to human health and to the environment. Mr. McKenna, however, did not dwell on the environmental challenges of fracking. Rather, he said exploiting the resource could potentially generate more than $7-billion in royalty and tax revenues for the province. “You have to appreciate that we are dealing with a lot of back-of-the-envelope estimates here but I can assure you that more than a few smart people are putting their minds to a New Brunswick scenario because it is so compelling,” he said.

New Brunswick Energy Minister Craig Leonard noted the rules that are to be released will ensure full disclosure of the chemicals used in the process. In addition, there will be requirements on the management of the waste water. It will be captured in tanks rather than open pits, he said. [Emphasis added

[Refer also to: Is There a Regulator in the House?  Through the Fracking Rabbit Hole with Nova Scotia Environment by Ken Summers, February 12, 2012 , Halifax MediaCoop
At the moment, Nova Scotians have two aspects of the continuous fracking debate on the table. Firstly, there’s the locally focused issue guaranteed to gain increasing attention: the long overdue reclamation of the two 5 year old fracking waste storage ponds in Kennetcook, northern Hants County. Resolution of this issue has become complicated by the contentious issue of filtering out radioactive materials from the wastes, materials that were found after remediation of the ponds had already begun. Then there are the same issues played out in the communities around the Jodrey family-owned Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) waste treatment facility in Debert. AIS is holding, for intended treatment and discharge, some of the fracking wastes transported from Kennetcook, and a greater amount of fluid wastes brought from several fracked wells in New Brunswick. [Emphasis added] ]

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