New Brunswick

Donald Arseneault says shale gas industry must change approach

Energy and Mines Minster Donald Arseneault says a recent report by the Liberal-appointed New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing shows that government and industry must take a different approach if shale gas development is ever going to move ahead.

Energy minister says there is a lot of work to do before a fracking moratorium is lifted in New Brunswick

Energy Minister Donald Arseneault said shale gas companies must change their approach to the industry's development in New Brunswick. (CBC)

Energy Minster Donald  Arseneault says a recent report by the Liberal-appointed New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing shows that government and industry must take a different approach if shale gas development is ever going to move ahead. 

"We need to rebuild our relationship with First Nations to regain that trust, as well we have to put communities in the middle of this process," he said on Information Morning Moncton on Monday.

The three-person commission set out a detailed plan for the province to follow if it wants to lift its moratorium on shale gas exploration.

It included the recommendation of an independent regulator and a rethink of how the government consults citizens, including aboriginal people, on resource development.

"We have to include First Nations at the forefront," Arseneault said.

"Not after, when all hell breaks loose and then people feel we have to talk to them … that's not right, that's not the way to go,"  he said referring to the fracking protests of 2013 that ended in five police vehicles burned and 40 people arrested.

Minister of Energy and Mines, Donald Arsenault, talks about the future of hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick.
Arseneault pointed to the Trevali Mine, west of Bathurst and the controversial Sisson Mine, north of Fredericton, as examples of how industry can work with First Nations to provide training and employment to members.

"When I go visit Trevali Mine now I see First Nations actually working in the mine. To me that's a success story that we need to replicate," he said.

Industry must change approach

SWN Resources was the oil and gas company at the centre of the protests in southeastern New Brunswick and Arseneault called out the company specifically on Monday, saying SWN must change the way it does business.

"They've been very clear to me, they feel that in terms of First Nations they say that's not their job. They say that's the government's job to consult with First Nations," he said.

"I told SWN that is everybody's job including SWN, so if you do want to do business in New Brunswick … these are issues that are very important and you're going to have to work with it and if you don't want to work with it chances are you're not going to have operations here."

In early 2015, ​SWN told the provincial government it was moving its resources out of New Brunswick because of the moratorium.

CBC News has contacted SWN Resources Canada for a response to Arseneault's comments.

As for lifting the moratorium, Arseneault says "time will tell."

"If industry and everybody around the table wants to really change the way we do things then I think we can see some positive outlook but do I think it's there today? No," he said.


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