si-nb-margaret-ann-blaney-220

Environment Minister Margaret-Ann Blaney is criticizing the Conservation Council for some of the fears over hydro-fracking. ((CBC))

Environment Minister Margaret-Ann Blaney is accusing the province's best-known environmental group of inciting illegal behaviour in the growing controversy over the issue of hydro-fracking.

Blaney said the Conservation Council, an environmental group that has been opposed to hydro-fracking, has helped inspire road blockades by anti-fracking protestors.

"It's escalating the level of emotion, and the Conservation Council was there at the blockade," she said.

"So tacitly approving this type of behaviour is not who we are as a people, I don't believe, in New Brunswick, and the Conservation Council, I think, has something to answer for."

SWN Resources Canada recently suspended its seismic testing for the season, blaming vandalism and other incidents.

David Coon, executive director of the Conservation Council, called Blaney's attack "pathetic."

He said his organization is a convenient target, because the minister doesn't want to criticize concerned citizens.

"Perhaps she's looking for somewhere to lay the blame without being seen to vilify individual citizens or local communities."

Blaney said the Conservation Council has been showing the anti-fracking documentary, Gasland, to local community meetings.

Blaney called the Oscar-nominated movie out-of-date and scientifically inaccurate.

She said she and other government ministers will be "hitting the road" this fall to counter its message.  Blaney said the province needs a rational, science-based debate on shale gas extraction. 

Premier David Alward said on Tuesday that it will be important for his government to explain to citizens about the new regulations that must be followed by the mining industry.

Listen to CBC New Brunswick's political podcast discuss the issue of hydro-fracking.

The premier said he wants people to "feel comfortable and confident" with the industry.

Alward has also said he has been disappointed about the vandalism and the blockades, but he hasn't named a specific group.

In the last month, there have been several protests against seismic testing and hydro-fracking.

A group of protesters blocked vehicles owned by SWN Resources from moving to a new site to conduct more seismic testing.

Another group of demonstrators spent an afternoon in the Centennial Building, which is where Alward's office is located, until they could talk to Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup.

And on Aug. 1, more than 1,000 protestors gathered in front of the legislative assembly to express their opposition to hydro-fracking.