Sussex hopes New Brunswick government will lift fracking ban for community by Andrew Cromwell, June 24, 2016, Global News
The government of New Brunswick says it’s willing to work with the town of Sussex about potentially lifting the fracking moratorium that’s been indefinitely put in place across the entire province.
Residents and businesses in Sussex want their region exempted from the fracking ban, and say the town’s good track record with natural gas exploration should allow them the exception.
Stephen Moffett lives on a farm in Penobsquis and has leased part of the land to Corridor Resources natural gas facility for a number of years. Their use of the land includes wells for hydraulic fracking, which Moffett says has been an ideal situation.
“They’ve been here all this time and there just have been no issues what so ever,” Moffett said.
Moffett was part of a large gathering Thursday speaking out against the government’s decision to continue the fracking moratorium. He told the group he has no issues with safety when it comes to fracking in the region.
There are five conditions Sussex must achieve in order to have the ban lifted, and the community is calling on the government to help.
“If industry can meet the five conditions that have been set, our government will revisit the moratorium,” Energy Minister Rick Doucet said.
However, he added that global market conditions for natural gas makes it “unlikely that industry will invest the necessary efforts to address the conditions in the short- or medium-term.” [When oil and gas prices were at record highs, industry was unwilling to invest in protecting public health, families, communities and environment from fracking]
The five conditions that must be met include:
Ensuring a social licence is in place
Clear and credible information is available about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment and water
A plan is in place to mitigate the impacts on public infrastructure and to address issues such as waste water disposal
A process is in place to respect the duty of the provincial government to consult with First Nations
A mechanism is in place to ensure that benefits are maximized for New Brunswickers
Fundy Royal Liberal MP Alaina Lockhart says the ban on fracking is a provincial issue, but the Sussex is unique.
“Where we had the exploration and development of natural gas in this area and as you’ve seen today there’s many cases of that being a positive experience,” Lockhart said.
“Not everyone in New Brunswick has that experience.” [Emphasis added]
People and businesses in the Sussex area gathered on Thursday and called for the Gallant government to lift its moratorium on shale gas development, at least for their communities.
Corridor Resources already operates 32 natural gas wells in the area, producing up to 7 million cubic feet of gas per day that is delivered to the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline.
Steve Moran, the chief executive officer of Corridor Resources, has stated the company now has $70 million worth of capital investment for proposed wells on hold indefinitely due to the government-imposed moratorium.
The Gallant government imposed the moratorium shortly after being elected in 2014 and set out a number of conditions that needed to be met before the moratorium would be lifted.
One of those conditions is that a “social licence” exists to extract natural gas through the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to free gas trapped in rock formations.
“The excuse of no social licence does not carry in Sussex, look around you,” said Paul Bedford, who moved back to the Sussex area from Alberta to establish QC Pumps and Compressors to support the oil and gas industry in the province.
Stephen Moffett, a local farmer, told the gathering the natural gas industry literally runs through his back yard and the decision about whether to allow fracking is “easy for me.”
“My kids work in Calgary. Corridor has never been anything but good to work with,” said Moffatt.
“They answered my questions. [One of the few?] They hired my kid to do work for them.”
On May 27, the Gallant government announced it was indefinitely extending the moratorium, saying it was clear the government’s conditions for lifting the moratorium couldn’t be satisfied “in the foreseeable future.” [Emphasis added]
A rally in the Sussex area is calling for an end to the moratorium on fracking in New Brunswick by Jonathan MacInnis with files from Jonathan MacInnis, June 23, 2016, CTV News
The “Lift the Moratorium” rally in the Sussex area is calling for an end to the moratorium on fracking in New Brunswick.
After the recent closure of a nearby Potash mine, many say fracking could bring much-needed opportunity for those out of work – and also bring more business back to Sussex.
Paul Bedford, a business owner, moved home from Alberta to open a pump and compressor business when natural gas development seemed to be moving forward in New Brunswick.
There was only standing room at “Life the Moratorium” rally near Sussex on Thursday.
“Our thought was ‘let’s open this business, let’s be here to support the oil and gas industry when it comes,’” says Bedford. “I guess everybody knows how that’s sort of been.”
It’s been on hold since the Liberal party, who ran a promise to impose a moratorium hydraulic fracturing, won a majority government in 2014.
“I think the government is pandering to some votes they’re afraid of losing if they lifted the moratorium,” says New Brunswick Progressive Conservative Leader, Bruce Fitch. “This is not an experimental industry; it’s been successful here in the Sussex area for ten years.”
McCully Field is one owned by Corridor Resources – 39 wells have been drilled on the location to access natural gas in the sandstone rocks below ground.
The field sits on property leased by farmer Stephen Moffett.
“My family is here, my grandchildren are here, we play and swim and fish in the river, we drink the water out of the ground,” says Moffett. “We feel that there’s really no reason for us to be concerned.”
Moffet says he thinks the province should consider lifting its blanket ban on shale gas development.
“We’re different here, the gas here is 2,000 metres under the ground, that’s two kilometres down,” says Moffet. “There’s layers and layers of bedrock between our groundwater and the shale gas.” [That’s what Encana promised Rosebud after the company had already illegally frac’d directly into the aquifers that supply the community]
While resource development is provincial jurisdiction, Fundy Royal Liberal Member of Parliament, Alaina Lockhart, says there’s room for discussion.
“I appreciate the fact that the provincial government needs to look at the provincial wide situation,” says Lockhart. “However, here in Sussex, I think they are working towards a plan – and I respect that.” [Emphasis added]