Fracking and political futures

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Whose interests are really being served?

Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall has recently stated his support for oil exploration using fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and his confidence in the regulations.

His colleague, Environment and Conservation Minister Tom Hedderson, had put forward the view that his department “has assessed many big projects during the past three decades.”

The truth is that there are still no regulations in this province regarding horizontal slick water hydraulic fracturing and that the social acceptability of fracking in this province is very low and for good reasons.

Full examination required

Citizens and environmental groups, researchers, health professional, tourism operators, cultural sector, visiting tourists and business owners are correct in requesting a full comprehensive assessment (social, economic and environmental) followed by a proper, strict regulatory framework for fracking before we move forward.

This responsible and measured approach falls under due diligence.

That is to say, do your homework to protect the communities, the workers, and only then, decide and proceed on the best course of action.

But, in this case, the communities ought to realize that the decision to approve fracking might have already been made by the ministers and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB).

People following the oil and gas industry projects in this province realized that Minister Hedderson’s claim for expertise in large projects does not include fracking onshore to offshore as it is currently proposed for the west coast by Shoal Point Energy and Black Spruce Exploration Corp.

Claiming expertise in fracking at this point in time is ill-thought-out, wrong and misleading.

Why move ahead?

For both respected ministers to blindly support the industry and its fracking preference appears to be premature, unless they have other reasons to do so.

Would they position themselves for post-political careers in the oil industry or for the usual appointment at the CNLOPB in return for this sort of “good corporate behaviour”?

With due respect, may I remind the ministers that their terms in office and service to the communities are not over and that it would be uplifting to witness the application of the greater good and ministerial responsibility to the people over the positioning for a political appointment at the CNLOPB or in the oil and gas sector.

The people’s requests are based on common sense, prudence and logic. Folks understand that to continue to support on the west coast the well-proven, sustainable, high-return-on-your-dollar tourism industry is the wise and preferred thing to do over fracking.

Would the ministers, like the rest of us, conclude that the risks outweigh the benefits and ban fracking in Newfoundland and Labrador?

Let’s show the people that the collective good will prevail over self-interest.


Frank George writes from Corner Brook.

Organizations: Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Shoal Point Energy and Black Spruce Exploration Corp. Claiming

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • clifford Gould
    April 18, 2013 - 18:44

    I d on't understand people trying to stop Ecnomic Development when we got newfoundlanders going to alberta to work and doing the exact same work of fracking for oil.You would think that people would be excited about this development it would be enormous spend - off besides the actual work.If we don't allow any ecnomic development we will have beautiful newfoundland with no people living in it.I do agree with this fracking for oil on the west coast with the proper regulations

  • MS
    April 15, 2013 - 11:15

    "The people's requests are based on common sense, prudence and logic." I also add "AND FACTS" to that statement. The truth is out there, the precedents are out there. Mr. Marshall should ask the people on the ground -those who have suffered loss of health, loss of cattle and other animals, loss of property, etc. because of contaminated wellwater and air, and have been forced to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements, simply called gag orders. I refer you to a video. Google "Unearthed, the Fracking Facade" for a little truth and facts and there are many more videos and professional reports available by "experts". It seems that the rush is on to frack every province and state and country they can (because they can) before the truth about their mantra of "best practices" and "strictest regulations" gets too widely known. Who can monitor what they are doing beyond the security gates and a mile or so below the earth? What is transported under the dark of night? Where are all the toxins being stored? What community would welcome the storage of these toxins? We know who will allow it - but who would welcome it? Where is the accountabiity? Where is the Dept. of Health with their war on cancer? An ounce of prevention is worth a thousand pounds of cure or disease management. The destabilization of the earth below us is also an important consideration regarding hydraulic fracturing. These chemical explosives used under high pressure to frack the shale are obviously quite powerful. I understand that each well can be fracked many times depending on how tight the shale is, multiply that by 100 wells to 1000 wells. And marine life? Who will be left to monitor that with all the layoffs in Dept. of Environment & Conservation? Where will they get the tons of fresh water needed, will they drain every lake and pond? The love of money and power truly is the root of all evil. Is it only in hindsight that we will see the insanity of this?