Mi’kmaq chiefs ‘blindsided’ by PC plan to allow shale gas development in Sussex area, ‘This is not an issue that’s going to come down to a Yes or No answer,’ says energy minister by Jacques Poitras, June 5, 2019, CBC News
Anti-shale gas activists and Mi’kmaq chiefs are warning the Higgs government to prepare for another fight over fracking, now that a moratorium on the practice is being lifted in one part of the province.
The Progressive Conservative government is also facing questions about whether it has fulfilled its legal obligation to consult First Nations communities, who oppose the practice.
“As the rest of the world is moving one way, New Brunswick is moving the other,” said Jim Emberger of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.
“On that basis if nothing else, there are many reason to suspect that this could be challenged in many ways,” he said, pointing out the group took the Alward government to court on the issue and has kept in touch with its lawyers.
“Watch this space. …The possibilities are there for sure.”
‘Duty to consult’
Meanwhile, nine Mi’kmaq chiefs said in a written statement they had been “blindsided” by the news. They pointed out a commission on fracking recommended in 2016 that the province “rebuild its relationship” with First Nations before lifting the moratorium.
“The premier must remember the Crown has a duty to consult, and to seek our consent to development in our territory,” Chief George Ginnish of Natoaganeg First Nation said in the statement.
He added that Mi’kmaq should have been consulted when the government “was just considering” lifting the moratorium.
The fierce reaction led PC Energy and Resource Development Minister Mike Holland to call for calm.
He portrayed the regulatory change as just one of “a number of steps” in the process, including Indigenous consultation he is promising to do.
“Let’s just let the temperature down here,” he told reporters. “This is a long-term project. Nobody’s doing anything knee-jerk.”
Holland said $70 million in new investment is possible in the area, but that no development is likely before 2021.
Document not public yet
Premier Blaine Higgs revealed Tuesday his government had quietly passed regulatory changes in May that will allow shale gas development to resume in the Sussex area. (CBC)
Higgs revealed the regulatory change in a scrum with reporters Tuesday. He said the order-in-council exempting an area near Sussex from the fracking moratorium had been approved by the cabinet sometime in May.
The order-in-council, normally a public document, wasn’t available on the government’s website Wednesday.
“There remain a few procedural aspects that need to be completed,” said spokesperson Tyler Campbell in a statement. “Once those are completed, we’ll be able to release them publicly.”
The previous Liberal government established the moratorium province-wide after winning the 2014 election.
Last fall, Higgs’s minority government won a vote on its throne speech endorsing a limited lifting of the moratorium in the area near Sussex, where Corridor Resources has been extracting natural gas since 1999.
Corridor halted fracking new wells when the moratorium was put in place.
Holland said Wednesday the area covered by the exemption is limited to around Penobsquis and Picadilly, and it does not extend as far as Turtle Creek and Albert County near Moncton, as the Liberals warned it would.
Even so, it falls within the one-third of the province now the subject of Aboriginal title discussions between the federal government and Elsipogtog First Nation.
Holland said he’s hoping for “a very interactive exchange of information” with Mi’kmaq leaders and believes he can accommodate them.
“This is not an issue that’s going to come down to a yes or no answer,” he said.
But Green Leader David Coon said the cabinet decision shows why the Higgs government should be part of the Aboriginal title negotiations.
“If they were at the table, they would clearly realize they couldn’t just drop this decision without actual consultation with First Nations, with the Mi’kmaq in this case,” he said.
The Liberals criticized Higgs for not being transparent about the cabinet decision last month, but the premier said in question period that with a public vote in the legislature last fall and his promise to implement it by the end of May, “this is no surprise.”
“Now I know it is a shock to the opposition that we are actually following up on what we said we would do,” he said. “We are actually doing what we said we would do, when we said we would do it.”
After last fall’s PC throne speech vote, then-Liberal leader Brian Gallant introduced a bill to codify the moratorium in legislation. Because the moratorium exists only as a regulation, it is easily amended by cabinet order, without a vote in the legislature.
Gallant’s bill would have changed that, but the Liberals haven’t used their allotment of opposition days in the legislature to bring it back for second reading.
“It’s in the cards,” Liberal MLA Benoit Bourque said Wednesday. “We’re certainly considering it.”
New Brunswick’s Indigenous chiefs issue warning against Tory OK of gas fracking, Higgs government has partially lifted the moratorium on natural gas fracking by Mike Cameron, The Canadian Press, June 5, 2019, CTV News Atlantic
FREDERICTON — A decision by New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative government to allow shale gas development in one region is drawing sharp criticism from Indigenous leaders who say they weren’t properly consulted.
Premier Blaine Higgs confirmed on Tuesday that his government has quietly passed regulatory changes to permit the method of extracting hydrocarbons to resume in the Sussex area.
The process known as fracking involves pumping water and chemicals deep underground at high pressure to fracture layers of shale and release pockets of gas.
Higgs’s move fulfils a commitment his minority government made in its throne speech earlier this year and is in line with his party’s past support of the process.
However, the organization that represents Mi’kmaq chiefs — Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc., or MTI — denounced the step as secretive and a step backwards in the province’s relationship with Indigenous populations.
A 2016 final report of a commission on the shale gas issue had urged the province to rebuild its relationship with Indigenous peoples, and to maintain the moratorium introduced in 2014 by the Liberals.
The decision by former Tory Premier David Alward to embrace the shale gas industry led to a series of public protests, culminating in a violent demonstration in the fall of 2013 in Rexton.
A total of 40 people were arrested and six police vehicles were burned. Many of those arrested were Mi’kmaq residents involved in the protests.
Corridor Resources currently has 32 producing wells in the Sussex area and operates a 50-kilometre pipeline, and a natural gas processing facility.
In a corporate presentation, the company has said if the moratorium is lifted, it would drill five vertical evaluation wells, complete three existing wells, identify “sweet spots” and drill a second round of up to five horizontal wells.
Higgs has argued that with dwindling gas supplies off Sable Island, gas prices will increase dramatically if new supplies aren’t developed in the Atlantic region.
New Brunswick Indigenous chiefs left ‘blindsided’ by decision to lift fracking moratorium by Silas Brown, June 5, 2019, Global News
The New Brunswick government has quietly moved to allow fracking in the Sussex area. As Silas Brown reports, environmental and First Nations groups are saying there’s a lack of consolation.
New Brunswick’s PC government is under fire from the opposition Liberals for making a closed-door regulatory change allowing for the lifting of the fracking moratorium in the Sussex area.
Last month, cabinet approved an order-in-council, clearing the way for the changes that were part of Premier Blaine Higgs’ throne speech motion that passed through the legislature in December.
But Liberal critic Lisa Harris says the government has ignored the necessary consultation to lift the ban.
“They’re saying that they’re going to consult, they want to work with New Brunswickers, they want to work with all of the different parties. Well, obviously, they don’t. They lifted this 30 days ago without any consultation,” she said.
“They say, ‘We’re going to do this, we’re going to move forward, we’re going to do it our way.’ I mean, it’s a little backwards … to lift (a) moratorium and then say we need to consult.”
Harris said she spoke to several First Nations leaders on Tuesday who said they had not been consulted by the PCs before the change was made.
A statement from the chiefs of Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. (MTI) says they “were blindsided by the decision,” which was made without “consent, consultation or input” from Indigenous groups in the province.
The statement cites the 2016 final report from the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing that set out nation-to-nation consultation as a prerequisite to lifting the moratorium.
“The premier must remember the Crown has a duty to consult and to seek our consent to development in our territory. The Mi’gmaq should’ve been engaged on this issue when the government was just considering lifting the moratorium in the Sussex area,” Chief George Ginnish of Natoaganeg First Nation said in the release.
Corridor Resources had been extracting shale gas in the Sussex region since 1999. But in 2014, a moratorium was issued by the newly elected Brian Gallant Liberals, stopping the development of new wells.
New Brunswick Minister of Energy Mike Holland says consultation will be done in due time and that the regulatory changes are only the first piece of a “framework” that will allow the development of the shale gas sector in the area.
“Any business, any government, if you’re involved with an initiative where there are moving parts and you have to figure out how to fit them into a framework, you don’t run out every day and give updates on that,” he said.
Holland said that consultation with Indigenous groups is “of paramount importance” to any development, adding that any projects are about two years off. [Pffffft, what he says means nothing, obviously. His actions and lack of actions tell the true tale]
“We’re not looking at development (until) probably 2021 so that’s why I’m saying let’s just let the temperature down here because this is a long-term project. Nobody’s doing anything knee-jerk, and we’re looking out beyond a year,” he said.
Along with a lack of Indigenous consultation, there are environmental concerns to consider as well, advocates say.
“You don’t make the decision and then look for testimony that’s going to support it. You have a discussion first,” said Jim Emberger, spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance.
“When the Liberals brought the moratorium in, they didn’t do that until they had had months of public testimony from citizens, from industry. We brought in international experts on contamination of water and public health,” he said.
Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne acknowledged the environmental concerns around shale gas extraction but said the region has a positive track record that speaks for itself. “We are the area in the province that truly has experience, hands-on experience, with production of natural gas and we have yet to see any sort of negative impact in regards to that,” he said.
“We know of no water contamination or any other sorts of pollution or spills that people should be concerned about. We’re concerned about that, too; we’re not in support of any sort of natural resource development that isn’t done responsibly.”
Refer also to:
2016 03 28: Industry lobby groups urge New Brunswick to lift frac moratorium. What for? To contaminate drinking water, divide and conquer communities, poison land, families and air while companies frac and go bankrupt and then demand that citizens finance their bad gambling debts?
2016 11 16: Hypocritical New Brunswick Paving the Way for Fracking to Resume? Will prohibit dumping frack waste in municipal systems and prohibit importing frack waste. Will it be legal to inject it putting communities at risk of being destroyed by earthquakes? And will it be legal to export frack waste?
2015 07 15: Exclusive by Miles Howe: Military missed opportunity for peaceful end to 2013 New Brunswick fracking protests, Internal documents show repeated Warrior Society requests for negotiating assistance denied
2015 04 12: Fracing Rerun in New Brunswick Government. Why? Did Jason Kenny and Senior Alberta Government Advisor, frac patent holder Dr. Maurice Dusseault complain that citizens aren’t brainwashed yet like they are in Alberta?
2015 03 25: Did Harper and the oil and gas industry order RCMP/CSIS/Snipers to attack innocent mothers and grandmothers, and set aflame stripped police cars in New Brunswick to discredit all Canadians concerned about frac harms and lay a red carpet for Harper’s Bill C-51?
2014 07 14: MUST READ: Dr. Maurice Dusseault, Public Advisor on Council Canadian Academies Frac Panel, Nova Scotia Frac Panel, New Brunswick Energy Institute (that promotes fracing) Filed Frac Patent in 2011; Frac Patent Issued in 2013
2013 12 18: Hormone-disrupting chemicals found in ground and surface water at fracking sites, Peer reviewed study of fracking sites in Garfield County Colorado finds chemicals linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer
2013 05 17: Colchester County Appeals Committee Unanimous Vote: Fracking waste water banned from Debert sewers, Atlantic Industrial Services wanted to dump 4.5 million litres of radioactive frac waste
2013 12 30: Is there enforcement of New Brunswick’s “toughest in the world” frac regulations? One month later, aquifer still broken due to SWN’s seismic testing. Energy Minister Craig Leonard blames protesters
2012 12 26: Minister ‘misleads’ over fracking, Energy Minister John Hayes has been accused of misrepresenting a Durham University study after he claimed it concluded fracking could not contaminate drinking water
2006 10 02: Spill site is free of radioactive waste, says Corridor Resources A resource company says it has cleaned up 3,000 litres of material containing a low-level radioactive substance it spilled while drilling for natural gas in the Sussex area in August. The material that Corridor spilled is called frac sand…. Frac sand contains some low-level radioactive isotopes. … An official with the Department of Environment said it has never had to deal with a radioactive spill before. It has handed the case over to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
2006 09 08: BJ Services radioactive frac blowout document (Part 1 of 4) relating to 2006 spill, Corridor Resources put in mailboxes of landowners and concerned citizens Penobsquis, New Brunswick The BJ Services frac’ing equipment was in the final stages of the stimulation operation when a washout of a segment of the frac iron occurred (piping between the pump trucks and the wellhead). (Part 2 of 4) (Part 3 of 4) (Part 4 of 4)