New Brunswick

Shale gas debate overshadows focus on alternative energy

New Brunswick politicians need to look past the fractious debate over hydraulic fracturing and focus on alternative energy sources, according to an anti-shale gas advocate. Jim Emberger, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, wrote an op-ed for CBC News that detailed why the next provincial government should abandon any effort to foster a shale gas industry.

Jim Emberger of the Anti-Shale Gas Alliance says politicians should give up on hydraulic fracturing

Jim Emberger, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, said provincial politicians should realize the pursuit of a shale gas industry could have disastrous effects on the province. (Submitted by Jim Emberger)
New Brunswick politicians need to look past the fractious debate over hydraulic fracturing and focus on alternative energy sources, according to an anti-shale gas advocate.

Jim Emberger, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, wrote an op-ed for CBC News that detailed why the next provincial government should abandon any effort to foster a shale gas industry.

Emberger pointed to other countries, such as Germany, and states, such as Vermont and Massachusetts, that have found ways to champion clean energy alternatives or embrace energy efficiency programs.

“None of these policy alternatives are possible while we direct our resources to the pursuit of fossil fuels and ignore their dangers. Scientists, physicians and analysts are showing us the new truth,” Emberger wrote.

“We must resolve our ‘cognitive dissonance’ by accepting the new world in which we are starting to live.  Only then will we prosper. Following the course we are on, because ‘that’s what we’ve always done,’ is to head into disaster.”

The first half of the New Brunswick election campaign has shown shale gas to be one of the clearly identifiable wedge issues.

The Progressive Conservatives have used the creation of a shale gas industry as a central plank in their campaign platform.

The Liberals have called for a moratorium on the industry. The NDP have promised to take no action for at least two years and then any future development would be based on a series of criteria.

The Greens have vowed to tear up all shale gas exploration and development agreements. The People’s Alliance has said citizens must be consulted and the shale gas industry would not be developed without a clear mandate from New Brunswickers.

Public divided over shale gas

A CBC/Radio-Canada poll found 49 per cent of people supported the shale gas industry compared to 44 per cent who opposed it. (Reuters)
A newly released CBC/Radio-Canada poll, conducted by Corporate Research Associates, found 49 per cent of people supported the shale gas industry compared to 44 per cent who opposed it.

The poll found mixed reactions when it came to views on the economic impact and the environmental legacy of the industry.

The message delivered by supporters about the potential economic benefits seems to have resonated in the province. Of those surveyed, 67 per cent said they believed the shale gas industry would lead to long-term economic benefits.

Environmental responses painted a different picture. The poll found that 81 per cent agreed that government regulations are needed but they still worried about the environmental impact of shale gas.

Emberger cited a list of national and international reports that raised questions about allowing the industry to develop. The shale gas opponent said policy makers need to heed these warnings before they make any decisions.

“Our pursuit of shale gas and continued use of fossil fuels have severe, undeniable and observable consequences,” he wrote.

“We can stay on this course only by ignoring the evidence in three areas: public health, climate change and economics.”

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