Shale gas industry criticized at public hearings
Hampton Water First is holding public meetings to discuss the shale gas industry
An anti-fracking organization is launching a series of public meetings around New Brunswick in an attempt to educate the public about some of the dangers it believes the industry could bring to the province.
About 50 people showed up to a shale gas meeting on Sunday in Saint John that was hosted by the organization, Hampton Water First. It was one of a few discussions about shale gas exploration and the controversial mining technique, hydro-fracking, that was held in the province over the weekend.
Chris Rendell, a member of Hampton Water First, said he wants to clear up what he believes are misconceptions that New Brunswick citizens might have about the industry, including government statements about economic benefits.
"The government website talks about the royalty revenue, but they are not considering the cost of the regulation. They're not considering all of the costs that are certain to occur if this industry comes," he said.
And even if the provincial government makes the case for financial benefits, Rendell, who was a presenter at these public meetings, said he's still opposed to development of the shale gas industry.
Greg Cook, who attended the public hearing, said it's possible the shale gas industry could be good for the province under the right conditions.
But, Cook said, the provincial government needs to be clear on regulations and financial numbers.
"I say no shale gas until regulations are in place and the government has come clean on what we have done so far," he said.
The provincial government has also committed to hosting public meetings across the province sometime soon.
Texas mayor discusses shale gas
The former mayor of Dish, Texas, was also on a speaking tour in New Brunswick over the weekend to discuss his community's experience with the shale gas industry.
Calvin Tillman said the issues faced by his community caused him to move his family from the town several months ago. He said his former town has odour and air quality problems and he was worried about his family's health.
There are 11 compressor stations and more than 20 pipelines in less than five square kilometres in Dish.
Tillman’s concerns with the industry are shared by many in New Brunswick.
In recent months, anti-shale gas protesters have staged large demonstrations in front of the legislative assembly and smaller events in their communities.
Several communities have voted to block seismic testing within their borders.
However, Premier David Alward has said he believes the industry should be given a chance to develop. The premier has called for the toughest regulations on the industry in the continent.
Alward has said the provincial government could use some of the revenue from the shale gas industry to pay for important government services.
That argument has infuriated some people who are opposed to the industry.
"It's an irresponsible statement, to make that claim on the royalty projections he's got without doing the cost and benefit analysis," Rendell said.
"He needs to come to the public with a thorough study showing all the costs and his supposed benefits."