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New Brunswick First Nation Says No Fracking

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Elsipogtog, NBProtesters led by John Levi, a warrior chief in Elsipogtog First Nation, on Tuesday (Jun 4), stopped and seized a truck containing seismic testing equipment owned by a shale gas company’s contractor. The First Nation claims that fracking is illegal without their permission and intends to sue the province of New Brunswick in federal court.

About 65 protesters, including women and children, seized the truck at a gas station and surrounded the vehicle so that it couldn’t be removed from the parking lot. Levi says that SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of Southwestern Energy Company, broke the law when they first started fracking “in our traditional hunting grounds, medicine grounds, contaminating our waters.” The protesters claim that Hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydro-fracking, could have a negative effect on local water supplies.

Fracking has led to friction within the federal government. The Opposition Liberals claim that there is too much secrecy in the oil and gas industry regarding fracking and shale gas development in the province, and that the public should know what chemicals are used by shale gas companies. Currently, sections of the Oil and Gas Act are off-limits from the Right to Information law, but the Canadian government said on May 16 that all companies must publicly disclose a list of such chemicals used in the fracking process.

Meanwhile, Levi says the [SWN] should pack up their gear and go. And the rest of Canada is watching New Brunswick. Two years ago, environmental advocates pressured the City of New Brunswick to ban all fracking, and a recent petition with 16,000 names was presented in the New Brunswick legislature, calling on the Premier to abandon plans for development of the shale gas industry, which typically requires large quantities of water and horizontal drilling.

In February 2013, the New Brunswick government announced dozens of new regulations governing shale gas exploration with the hope of creating jobs in a province with a high unemployment rate. But environmentalists don’t buy into fracking and job creation. The journal Ecological Economics (7, 1243-1249) stated that “Several reports sponsored by the gas industry have estimated the economic effects of the shale gas extraction on incomes, employment, and tax revenues. None of these reports has been published in an economics journal and therefore have not been subjected to the peer review process…. Due to questionable assumptions, the economic impacts estimated in these reports are very likely overstated.”

In December 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that fracking may be to blame for causing groundwater pollution. The EPA stated that compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals had been detected in the groundwater beneath Pavillion, Wyoming, where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals. The EPA report was recognized by environmentalists both in the US and Canada as a significant development. Naturally, it received criticism from the oil and gas industry. A Calgary corporation went so far as to suggest that the chemicals may not be related to gas development. In Canada, most of the 175,000 wells that have been fracked are located in Alberta, although exploration is rapidly expanding in almost every other province, including New Brunswick - and despite the protests.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
The truck was released peacefully. Other blocking actions have been taking place, and continue to take place. A dozen protestors have been arrested and charged. No one is breaking the law "with impunity". The protestors believe deeply, and are responding consistent with their beliefs.

Posted by

on
I wonder if the Elsipogtog First Nation protesters seized the truck containing equipment were arrested for their crime? Or has become acceptable in Canada to break the law with impunity so long as it's done in the name of anti-fracking?

Posted by

on
Do you mean tue city of Fredercton they don't have a city of new Brunswick...

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