Liberal bill giving fracking veto to LSDs stalled

The Progressive Conservative govenrment stalled a private member's bill on Wednesday that would give rural residents a vote over shale gas development.

Proposed law was adopted at second reading but will not move forward

The Progressive Conservative government stalled a private member’s bill on Wednesday that would give rural residents a veto over shale gas development.

The legislative assembly adjourned for the summer on Wednesday and the Liberals were trying to push forward with a final piece of legislation.

The proposed law would have given local service districts the same power as municipalities to prohibit shale gas companies from exploring in their territory.

Liberal MLA Bernard LeBlanc said the local service districts deserve the same power as municipalities to decide whether they want the shale gas industry to move into their areas.

"This bill seeks to give those living outside municipalities a voice. This government promised openness and transparency. It's time to prove it," LeBlanc said.

But the Progressive Conservatives opted to speak about some of the other aspects of their shale gas regulations that they introduced in the spring.

Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup, for instance, talked about a plan to share gas revenues with local communities.

"I would also like to offer some comments on an incentive that will benefit local service districts," he said.

But when it came down to a vote on the bill, the government MLAs voted to support second reading of the bill.

The legislature adjourned on Wednesday and it is not expected to return until November. At that point, the Progressive Conservative government will prorogue this session and start a new one.

That move will kill any legislation, such as the Liberal bill, that has not been passed.

The New Brunswick government proposed 116 different changes to the regulatory framework that oversees the oil and gas industry in May.

The changes, which are now being debated in a public consultation tour, included overhauling the royalty framework that would ensure more money flows into the provincial coffers and is sent to property owners and communities where mining activity is taking place.

Natural gas companies working in New Brunswick will also be subject to higher fines if they break the rules. Northrup said he’d like the rules to be in place for 2013.

Citizens have until July 18 to submit their comments. In one meeting this week, former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Tony Huntjens blasted the contentious mining practice of hydro-fracking as a "dangerous experiment."