Parrsboro council to be asked to ban shale gas fracturing

Staff, Amherst News
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PARRSBORO - Parrsboro Town Council will be urged to take a strong stand in opposition to hydraulic shale gas fracturing when it meets in open session here Tuesday evening, Feb. 25.
Harriet McCready, speaking on behalf of a group of concerned citizens, said the intent is to see council enact a by-law or pass a resolution banning fracking, echoing the positions taken by Cumberland County council, Inverness County council, and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.

“We’ll be presenting council with an overview of what fracking is and why we are concerned – the known and the unknown risks to our health, our environment and our water,” McCready said.

“This is an industrial process whose impacts will potentially outlast us and our children, if allowed to go ahead without passing the most stringent examination. When you consider the waste water disposal problems and the unknown magnitude of chemical pollution going into our groundwater, quite frankly, the science is not there to support the risks. There is so much we don’t know.”

The group hopes that the addition of Parrsboro’s voice to those already on record as opposing this practice – at least until it can be proven safe – will help convince the provincial government to take a very measured approach, even as it awaits the report of the review panel. 

Fracking grabbed headlines last summer in the New Brunswick community of Elsipogtog, when native and non-native residents stood shoulder to shoulder for days, weeks and months, trying to keep SWN Resources - a shale gas company - out of their community.

“The people were powerless to stop them, despite the groundswell of opposition in the affected communities. The government had already renewed the exploration permits. The New Brunswick case clearly illustrates the ineffectiveness of a reactive response; we must be proactive if we are to be heard,” said McCready.

Barb Gilbert, one member of the local group concerned about fracking, said the most critical element is the water.

“If we take risks with the supply of clean water, we are doomed,” she said. “Common sense dictates extreme caution, and the evidence needs to be carefully weighed.”

Organizations: Parrsboro council

Geographic location: New Brunswick

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  • Reason
    February 19, 2014 - 20:17

    There are a number of cases where fracking has been linked to problems especially where regulation has been lax or inappropriate. I'm not sure what industry could be cited that hasn't caused damage under such conditions. The problem is some are happy to ban it before any sort of discussion is even held based on a cottage industry that profits from hysteria. You can't base all your decisions on the bad things that might happen, or you don't get out of your bed in the morning. In this case people are talking about a ban before anyone even knows whether the industry is economically viable let alone what regulations are appropriate, or would be put in place. Not sure if you're familiar with the Ivany report but the Cliff Note version is Nova Scotia, (and the Maritimes, as a whole) are circling the drain. Realistically, we have to take a hard look at every opportunity that presents itself. Despite the horror stories, the industry can point to lots of locations where the practice has been performed without any environmental disasters. To what degree of safety, do we hold the industry? If people expect absolute proof that nothing can ever go wrong, then we might as well pack it in. No industry or business can do this. I appreciate the thought and sentiment around your position. Perhaps you see the irony that everyone in the County have family that have moved to the areas where they have fracking.

    • Sandy Graham
      February 20, 2014 - 09:59

      I begin to suspect that our views are closer than at first appeared. Ah, the “dangers” of dialogue, and the propensity of some to polarize an issue, or introduce, as you say, “hysteria”. Perhaps I should rename myself “Moderation”, and then we could team up (as superheroes?), fighting misinformation and its sidekick, madness, taking the battle to its very lair. (We could split the movie rights). I think of the reaction to a “study” (since universally refuted) on vaccine side effects, which led many thousands of parents to refrain from getting their children immunized against serious diseases. Now some of these diseases, as a consequence, have regained a hold. So there may indeed be some that are spreading hysteria, though I don’t count myself among their number. Nor am I aware of such a “cottage industry” although perhaps it should be said that no one adopts the moniker of hysteric, even if the shoe fits. It would seem that you and I are circling around a particular point or question, that being: What is the acceptable risk (in the near and long term) for a particular activity in a region? And I agree with you that one should try to remain objective and not “base all your decisions on the bad things that might happen.” I believe what is being advocated is to ban fracking unless and until such time that the risks are more clearly understood, and reduced or eliminated to an acceptable degree. Acceptable. Aye, there’s the (subjective) rub. And it may ever be a point on which some will only be able to “agree to disagree”. And as you say; meanwhile, the economy of the Maritimes are “circling the drain”. So it’s a tough one. What to do? I suppose what I am advocating is to proceed with great caution, with all information on the table, and through an open, accountable process and (as here) dialogue. And I do “see the irony that

    • Sandy Graham
      February 20, 2014 - 12:09

      Somehow, the latter part of my (perhaps longwinded?) comments didn't make it in. A glitch somewhere, perhaps. So here goes: And I do “see the irony that everyone in the County have family that have moved to the areas where they have fracking” though I think you exaggerate just a tad. But some of those areas are already experiencing serious problems with their well water and aquifer. Now what do they do? Thanks for keeping me up to the mark. Sandy Graham. Parrsboro. P.S. If you can make it to the meeting, a civil engineer (and farmer and maple syrup producer) will be present, who has considered some of the very points you raise. Although (between you and me), he is a bit hysterical. P.P.S. And I would give anything to know how to preserve my paragraph breaks in these comment sections.

  • Sandy Graham
    February 19, 2014 - 08:53

    Interesting points, Reason. Let me respond by saying that I agree that far too many casualties result from cars, alcohol, and any number of other causes. It regrettably takes public policy and legislation longer than it should to catch up with the realities to which you refer. We do have regulations on these various matters, much more so than half a century ago, though far from perfect, as you suggest. Auto makers and tobacco companies certainly resisted various reforms. Where I differ from your argument is the suggestion that fracking should be allowed because, after all, we don’t “have proof positive of the risks it poses.” In fact, we do. A lot. And I would suggest that in terms of the security of your argument, “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.” I would assert, also, that the burden of “proof” as to the safety of fracking is on the companies that want to do it, and our various governments in whom we have the reasonable expectation that they will act in the public interest, and not for corporate ones. I’ll just finish by saying, as I did to Wingman (below) that “the idea that fracking will bring appreciable jobs and economic benefits to a region or community is, alas, a myth. And there is documentation of numerous cases in the U.S. to show this.” Like you, I am all for economic development. But there are numerous cases of where fracking has poisoned the aquifer of an area for generations. And then what do you do? I mean, really? Thanks for your thoughts (and don’t stop). Sandy Graham Parrsboro

  • Reason
    February 18, 2014 - 18:31

    Maybe we should start by banning the stuff that we have proof positive of the risks it poses. Lets start with people driving cars. Tens of thousands of people die in their cars every year because the government allows people to continue taking this risk. Alcohol kills thousands of people every year, ban it. Ban fracking, without adequate regulation it's an unacceptable risk. The people who want jobs, want their schools and hospitals funded can just continue to move to Alberta!

  • anon
    February 16, 2014 - 15:36

    everyone who lives in this area should be entitled to not have any industry contaminate or even risk their drinking water being poisoned ... that's one reason we pay fed taxes ..for protection from this type of tyranny ... we all seen $$$ benefits from sable ...right??? deemed safe or not if it comes here there's a new MLS listing the day i see it posted ..its not worth it ..out of here .

    • sparky00
      February 16, 2014 - 17:04

      So then Anon, what is your alternative? Coal fired electricity? 5000 liter fuel oil trucks driving our roads? Very expensive renewable energy? This industrial process has been proven safe, and can be done with chemicals that pose no risk to people or the environment. Do you really think that the evil oil companies want to lose money from leaking wells? Or lawsuits?

    • anon
      February 17, 2014 - 11:55

      well Mr Sparky00 its great to hear some input from the industry its self ... i guess we can all see who butters your bread with the rhetoric you seem to want people to believe ... tk god for social media and the ability for people to be able to access the TRUTH ... big industry cares about only one thing ...PROFITS ... will the owners of these companies live here and drink the water after they have poisoned all our wells ?? no they will live elsewhere where there is no threat to them or their health .... as far as alternatives i have a heat pump that costs very little to run ... i see a wind farm on the Tantramar marsh that can power my heat pump .... there's the tidal project in progress in the bay of Fundy and there's solar technology that is evolving as well ... it seems you have a stake in all of this with your comments and we the people of this province wont stand for the risk of poisoning our water supply or the water supply for our future generations just for the sake of enriching a glutinous industry driven by greed . i for one support renewable energy even if the cost is higher for the simple fact ... its renewable ... and wont be a poisoned hole in the ground when the gas has been sucked dry .

  • wingman
    February 15, 2014 - 11:43

    They are doing it in the US with no apparent problems. Are all those opposed willing to pay higher taxes and will they pay my share?

    • Sandy Graham
      February 16, 2014 - 16:15

      “They are doing it in the US with no apparent problems”?! Wingman, I don’t know what media you follow, or how adept are your research skills; but even a cursory look into the issue – and by all means keep an open mind – reveals deep fissures in the credibility of this technology. This is especially so regarding the ability to minimize immediate, short and long term risks to the environment, our health, and that our children and thereafter. There are a number of cases in Alberta and British Columbia, and throughout the United States, where various chemicals, including methane, synthetic glycols and alcohols, as well as benzene, have leaked into the aquifer from which plant, animals and humans derive their water. Some of these substances are known carcinogens. There are other substances we don’t know about, because the companies that do fracking won’t reveal them. This your health, and your children’s health, that I’m talking about. Am I reaching you? The fracking companies are reaching lots of people, they have millions to spend on public relations and lawyers, to spin stories like “no apparent problems”, and get the profits they desire, while people in their communities absorb the risks. You also make a brief economic argument, but the idea that fracking will bring appreciable jobs and economic benefits to a region or community is, alas, a myth. And there is documentation of numerous cases in the U.S. to show this. You can learn a lot more if you would like (and I hope you do) by coming to the Parrsboro Town Council Meeting on February 25th at 7:00pm. In the meantime, you can look online at nofrac.com, (Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition), and at http://www.canadians.org/fracking (Council of Canadians). I hope I have not seemed too strident, but your remark struck me as being rash, considering the reportage on this issue that exists. If you have a couple of hours one night soon, you might borrow “Gasland” or “Gasland II” by Josh Fox, from the library. There are no car chases, but it just may make your blood boil. Cheers, friend Sandy Graham Parrsboro, Nova Scotia

    • Mad Mac
      February 17, 2014 - 07:12

      All one has to do is a little GOOGLE research and you will see that there are far more cons than pros for fracking. Big companies are going to keep the wool pulled over your eyes to make a buck. And the government is not here to help us. If and when there is ever a boom here for drilling and fracking, it won't be the locals getting the work. They will be bringing in their own experienced employees. So forget that card to play too.