A citizens group is calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick until the provincial government puts regulations in place.
Members of Citizens for Responsible Resource Development rallied outside several politicians' offices on Monday. Two of the members met with Minister of Local Governance Bruce Fitch at his office in Riverview.
Fitch said they are the first citizens to come and talk to him about hydraulic fracturing. He said it isn't his file, but stressed that the province is doing it's homework and listening to all sides.
"Get those sides of the story and then ultimately it goes back to the minister to get his recommendation on how to move forward on this."
'We want to hear from the whole cabinet on what their position is because we believe they were elected by the people to protect the people and that's what we see missing.' —Bethany Thorne-Dykstra, Citizens for Responsible Resource Development
Bethany Thorne-Dykstra, president of the citizens group, said with much of the exploration by oil companies going on in southeastern New Brunswick, Fitch should be involved.
"We want to hear from the whole cabinet on what their position is because we believe they were elected by the people to protect the people and that's what we see missing," she said.
Dykstra contends exploration is moving too fast and that the province is being irresponsible by allowing gas and oil companies to drill test wells in New Brunswick before regulations are in place. The group is concerned about the possible impact on water and land.
"There should be some discussion and talking between communities for land and land use planning in terms of whether natural gas should be a free-for-all for the entire province," Dykstra said.
Dykstra's group is planning weekly rallies, and has started a petition asking for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until there are clear regulations.
Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup said in March that the government would not follow the lead of Quebec and New York and put a moratorium on shale gas development and the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing.
Northrup said it will take three to four years for a full shale gas operation to be in place and he's confident the proper processes will be in place by then.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydro-fracking, pumps a mixture of water, chemicals and sand into the ground, creating cracks in shale rock formations. That allows companies to extract natural gas from areas that would otherwise go untapped.