West Coast of Newfoundland: Former oil and gas consultant to speak on fracking

FRACKING AWARENESS WEEK by The Port au Port/Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Group, September 14, 2013, The Western Star
Place : Bay St. George
Time : 11:00
Details : The Port au Port/Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Group will kick off Fracking Awareness Week with a Walk-the-Block on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 11 a.m. with everyone gathering at the Lion’s Club parking lot in Stephenville. The Walk-the-Block will focus on raising public awareness about the controversial practice of high pressure slickwater fracturing, commonly known as “fracking.” Throughout the week, the local awareness group will be conducting information sessions at various venues in town. The awareness week will conclude with the People’s Forum on Fracking slated for Sunday, Sept. 22, 2 p.m. at the Arts and Culture Centre in Stephenville. Jessica Ernst from Rosebud, Alta., will be the guest speaker and everyone is encouraged to come out and listen to this internationally acclaimed environmental scientist who has over 30 years experience in the oil and gas industry. Come join us for a short fitness walk around Main Street.

Former oil and gas consultant to speak on fracking by Paul Hutchings, September 10, 2013, The Western Star
STEPHENVILLE — Jessica Ernst knows a thing or two about hydraulic fracturing. For 30 years Ernst worked in the oil and gas industry in her native Alberta as an environmental consultant. She released a study recently that refutes industry claims that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it has come to be known, has not caused any incidents of water contamination. She’ll be in western Newfoundland later this month to discuss fracking in light of recent plans for an oil and gas company to utilize the controversial drilling method for exploration at various sites along the west coast. Ernst brought international attention to hydraulic fracturing by filing a lawsuit against Encana for the company’s drilling impacts on the groundwater in her hometown of Rosebud, Alta. last year. She has also filed suit against the Alberta government and energy regulator, the Energy Resource Conservation Board, alleging unlawful activities.

She recognized that jobs are a big issue in this province but had a warning for local residents. “I’ll tell people when I get there, (drilling corporations) will promise the world when it comes to economic development,” she said. “Once companies are in the area it’s hard to get them out because they’ll go to the courts and say they’ve invested so many millions and they have to get their investment back.” Ernst worked with most of the major oil companies in the past, such as Chevron, Esso, Pioneer, and is now somewhat of a spokesperson for the anti-fracking movement. Her work was in environmental impact, [socio-economic impact, consultation and cumulative effects assessments]. [The cumulative effects assessments] she said has not really been done anywhere [other than the work her firm did. Refer also below the poster].

“I wish I could tell Newfoundland that the promises are fabulous and they’ll come true, but in my experience they aren’t true,” she said. “And the hell left behind is just awful.”

She’ll be speaking at the Stephenville Arts and Culture Centre at the People’s Forum on Fracking, hosted by the Bay St. George/Port au Port Fracking Awareness Group on Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. Ernst will also attend a series of meet and greet events at various locations, including one at Galliott Studios in Woody Point on Sept. 20 from 2-4 p.m.

2013 09 22 Poster Jessica Ernst speaking at The People's Forum on Fracking Stephenville Newfoundland

[Refer also to:

40th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION Standing Committee on Natural Resources EVIDENCE presented by Will Koop, February 3, 2011, BC Tap Water Alliance

In 1991, the Ministry of Environment released a report urging the government to implement “cumulative effects” studies in the energy zone, which it failed to undertake. The concerns by Ministry staff continued about the absence of cumulative effects with the creation of the BC Oil and Gas Commission in 1997. In 2003, the Commission finally published a lengthy two volume report on how to possibly implement cumulative environment effects in northeast BC. However, the matter was ignored. Since 2003, the government leased thousands upon thousands of hectares of public lands to energy companies without conditions to conduct cumulative effects studies and without consulting the public.

When EnCana’s representative Richard Dunn was asked by this Committee to comment on the state of cumulative effects studies in British Columbia, Mr. Dunn stated on November 23, 2010, that “it would not make sense to do a cumulative effects assessment.” Mr. Dunn’s response is not only an affirmation that cumulative effects studies have been ignored, but it is also a disturbing statement about the energy corporation’s attitude and philosophy, including Mr. Dunn’s comments about Canada being on the “forefront of environmental and economic stewardship.” EnCana has significant lease areas and corporate partnerships throughout northeast BC, and elsewhere.

There was only one long-term cumulative environmental effects study in western Canada. It was conducted by Ernst Environmental Services of Pioneer Natural Resources Canada Inc.’s oil and gas operations in the Chinchaga area of BC and Alberta. Unfortunately, that ten year study was terminated after the company was acquired in November 2007 by Taqa North, a Saudi Arabia company owned by the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC, with deep shale gas leases in northeast BC. In 2005, Jessica Ernst, of Ernst Environmental Services, had her well water in Rosebud, Alberta contaminated with methane, ethane and other hydrocarbons after EnCana fractured the area for coalbed methane gas. ]

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