People not convinced by argument for fracking: NDP

Frank Gale
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Jonathan Stewart liked the message MHA George Murphy brought to an anti-fracking event in Stephenville.

Jonathan Stewart, who attended an anti-fracking meeting in the United Church Hall in Stephenville Saturday, signs petitions opposing fracking.  — Photos by Frank Gale/The Western Star

He especially liked the fact that the NDP environment and conservation critic talked about how Lone Pine Resources Inc., a U.S. fracking company registered in Delaware, which wanted to frack for gas under the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, has threatened to sue Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because of Quebec’s moratorium on fracking.

He said the company is saying this moratorium is violating the oil company’s right to frack and it’s demanding $250 million in compensation.

In October of 2013, groups such as the Council of Canadians, the Sierra Club, For Love of Water (FLOW), Eau Secours!, and AmiEs de la Terre were gathering signatures for a letter to Lone Pine urging the company to drop plans to sue Canada.

It was at that time the groups discovered that Lone Pine had quietly filed a request for arbitration indicating the company was moving forward with the NAFTA lawsuit.

Murphy said Saturday the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union (EU) and Canada would grant energy companies far-reaching rights to challenge bans and regulations of shale gas development, such as fracking.

“I think Mr. Murphy is showing great concern about hydraulic fracturing and I’m glad he brought to everyone’s attention these facts about NAFTA and CETA and how, through them, the rights of the corporation are protected rather than the rights of the people who live here,” said Kathy Marche, a resident of Kippens and a member of the Port au Port/Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Group.

Stewart, one of nearly 70 who attended the event, entitled People’s Frackdown 2, said it was nice to see Murphy explain the issues with NAFTA and CETA because he strongly opposes this proposed hydraulic fracturing process.

Stewart said people in the area should be careful of who they vote for during the next provincial election to deal with this fracking issue.

“We need someone who is going to be trustworthy and have our best interest at heart,” he said. “We need less secrecy from our elected officials and a matter as serious as fracking should be able to be voted on by the people.”

Stewart said, as a worker in Alberta who gets out to oil sites, he doesn’t trust a thing that oil companies say.

“For them it’s anything for profit with little care about the environment.”

Murphy, the NDP MHA for St. John’s East, has been active in the political fight that resulted in the province implementing a moratorium on fracking in November.

He said his role is to give people a voice in the House of Assembly and make sure they can put a face to the issue.

In early November of 2013 Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley declared a moratorium on fracking in the province. He announced government will not approve fracking onshore and onshore-to-offshore hydraulic fracturing pending further review and government would be doing public consultation before it develops any policy for fracking.

Murphy said even though the moratorium is on, there is a lot of distraction with the Tory leadership, so the NDP hopes to make sure the issue stays at the forefront.

“We want to make sure that if government is going to have that review, that it’s going to be an independent review so government can keep their hands off it,” Murphy said.

“Also, to make sure it’s totally scientific,” he added.

Murphy said the NDP would like to see a strengthening of environmental regulations and a full disclosure of chemicals used in fracking.

“If it’s going to be an unsafe process here, particularly when it comes from a worker’s point of view, along with health and the protection of water, then it can’t be allowed to happen,” he said.

Murphy said if people in the province begin hearing of the quality of water being compromised, it’s certainly a good basis to not do fracking at all.

“There are a number of views here, but the biggest view is that (the government) has not convinced us yet of a valid argument for fracking,” he said.

Organizations: NDP MHA, NAFTA, Lone Pine Resources European Union Sierra Club Tory

Geographic location: Quebec, Canada, Lone Pine U.S. St. Lawrence River Kippens Port au Port Alberta

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Recent comments

  • H Jefford
    January 28, 2014 - 09:03

    There is a lot of Questions that has to be answered about fracking ? What or How does it affect the natural water table, I seen a program on TV about fracking, of a person turning on a water tap in a home and lighting what was coming from a household water tap with a match ! ? is this practice creating " FIRE BOMBS " out of those homes where fracking has taken place , and How does this practice of fracking Affect the people that live in that area ? Should they be put at risk so a oil Co. can increase the profit of its bottom line?

  • david
    January 27, 2014 - 13:39

    As little as this province has....and it is so very, VERY little...... every scintilla of it is due to oil. Every government-squandered cent. And yet people here are so ignorant, so completely ungrateful with their heads so far up their own rrrrs that they hurl slurs against the very source of any productivity and hope this place has left. are officially the biggest collection of clueless fools on the face of the Earth. Tourism...sure.

  • david
    January 27, 2014 - 10:09

    If the oil industry told everyone that that producing oil would bring back millions of codfish to each and every cove of the province, that might help them win this "debate"....... it seems only fair that they should do that, or whatever else they can pull out of their RRRs. Level the playing field.

    • Chantal
      January 27, 2014 - 12:52

      If the oil industry told you clams have wings, you'd believe that too.

    • david
      January 27, 2014 - 14:40


  • Christopher
    January 27, 2014 - 09:27

    If Mr. Stewart does not trust these Big Bad Profit Driven Oil Companies........why exactly is he working for them out west?

  • Chantal
    January 27, 2014 - 07:37

    Fracking aside, the very fact that NAFTA, CETA and other trade agreemtns allow private companies to sue governments for enacting bans or regulations enacted by elected governments for the welfare of its citizens, should be of concern to anyone who purports to support democracy.

  • Charles
    January 27, 2014 - 06:40

    I don't understand it, why is there so many meeting concerning Fracking? Far as I'm concerning its shouldn't take place. Do the government have to wait...until the horse is out of the barn, before they will no to disaster...

    • saelcove
      January 27, 2014 - 09:01

      Afraid they may have to work