First Nations consultants support SWN exploration
Aboriginal company hired to monitor Kent County seismic testing
An aboriginal consulting firm in New Brunswick is supporting SWN Resources Canada and its seismic testing program in Kent County this summer.
Stephen Sewell of the Pabineau First Nation is a director at Chief to Chief Consulting Group, which has been hired by SWN to monitor the work of the company as it continues exploring for shale gas.
Sewell says employees will serve as subcontractors, using their traditional knowledge of the land to protect the water, wildlife and traditional medicines.
"We've got the regulations with us in our vehicles and the slightest thing that we see, any shortcut taken, is going to be reported and it's going to be screamed loud from every rooftop," Sewell said.
SWN doesn't deserve bad reputation
Sewell believes SWN Resources Canada has an undeserved bad reputation that he blames on anti-shale gas groups.
"Only when SWN decides to move it seems that there's an issue. So to me you're either all in or you're not, you can't be 'Well we're okay with shale gas as long as it's not in Kent County.' Are they okay with shale gas going on in Sussex?"
Sewell says everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and he respects people who are protesting SWN's activities.
"Our role is to protect Mother Earth and you know what — we probably have the same role because their hearts are sincere and they believe that that's what they're doing also. We just believe that there's another way to protect Mother Earth and that's actually physically being out there looking over SWN's shoulder."
Chances of anything going wrong "slim"
Sewell said he has not decided whether he supports hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas, but is confident that seismic testing is safe and will not harm the environment.
"Don't just sit there and listen to what someone is telling you coming into your living room, that your well is going to cave in and flames are going to shoot out of your taps."
"That's a bit of a stretch to think that's going to happen every time a well is drilled."
Sewell says elderly people are being terrified by claims that seismic testing could be harmful, and says the reality of anything going wrong is slim.
"We're not going to let that happen, not on our traditional territory on crown land or in downtown Rogersville."
Sewell is confident that if people educate themselves on seismic testing they will come to the same conclusion that he has.
"Because the anti-shale gas group tends to be the loudest group, no matter what size it is, I don't think it's right that everybody has to get all painted with this brush. There's a lot of people in N.B. that probably would like shale gas and there's probably a lot that are sitting on the fence and maybe don't care either way whether they go ahead with shale gas."