Energy minister says 'responsible' fracking will help transition to green economy
Political Panel discusses possibility of shale gas development in Sussex
New Brunswick's minister of energy and resource development suggested the government's passing of regulatory changes that would allow a partial lifting of the moratorium on fracking is a "responsible" path toward facilitating a transition to a greener economy.
Mike Holland said the decision is not irresponsible "if it's going to be done in a way that gets us to where we need to go and it's part of an overall plan that is solid toward to the reduction of overall emissions."
The Higgs government quietly passed regulatory changes in May to allow shale gas development to resume in the Sussex area.
Holland said the government is putting steps in place to responsibly lift the moratorium in the area.
"We're not going to walking into this blindly," Holland said. "They're going to follow some industry leading practices in order to get any kind of affirmation to move forward."
Holland said the government is committed to doing it in "the most responsible way."
But Green Party Leader David Coon said it's irresponsible to develop more fossil fuels. He said the transition to a more green economy depends on using green electricity, not fossil fuels.
"Industry leading practices and the development of more fossil fuels is robbing our children of a decent future," Coon said.
"We already are in a position, because of the amount of damage that's been done to the atmosphere," he said. "Handing over a future that we would never really want to put in the hands of our children and this mentality is what's making it worse."
Coon said the world is facing a climate emergency, so now is not the time to develop brand new sources of fossil fuels like shale.
"That's like throwing gasoline onto a burning house," he said.
Liberal MLA Benoît Bourque agreed with Coon that the government should avoid using fossil fuels. Although Holland wanted to reiterate that the government has not lifted the moratorium yet, Bourque said he feels like it's been lifted.
"I find this has been politically motivated, has been botched and I understand where they want to go, but I feel the process is not right," Bourque said. "It's been rushed."
Several First Nations leaders across the province have said the Higgs government has made a serious mistake.
Leaders from St. Mary's, Woodstock, Madawaska, Oromocto, Tobique and Kingsclear have denounced the lifting of the moratorium, calling it "shocking, unacceptable, and unlawful."
"They need to restore the Moratorium immediately, and they need to have a serious dialogue with Indigenous peoples before taking any more steps in that direction," said Patricia Bernard, Chief of Madawaska First Nation.
Oil and gas companies are applauding the government's move to lift the moratorium. Ray Ritcey, CEO of the Maritimes Energy Association, said it's "a step in the right direction."
"I think it's going to take time," Ritcey said. "I think it's going to take leadership of the government or governments to see that development occur. But, from my perspective, it would be a great opportunity and I think it should be pursued."
With files from Jacques Poitras, Information Morning and the CBC New Brunswick Political Podcast