On August 1st and 2nd, a Day of FRACtion involving marches and protests is taking place across most of Canada’s Atlantic provinces in order to bring attention to unconventional gas extraction and its highly contentious hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling method.
The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, in partnership with a number of other organizations in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island opposed to gas production, is calling on all Atlantic Canadians to send their leaders the message that “We do not want fracking in Atlantic Canada” (or anywhere).
New Brunswick, in particular, may hold North America’s largest (per capita) reserves of unconventional gas [pdf] and is a province at odds with itself over gas and drilling.
On the one hand, the Progressive Conservative government there does not believe that fracking poses any risks and opposes any moratorium or slowdown in gas drilling. Seeing the chance to secure long-term investments from deep-pocketed drillers, the province, in spite of drilling failures, is confidently encouraging an unconventional gas rush, rolling out the welcome mat for national and international energy companies and speculators.
On the other, there is a growing movement from across the province of communities, residents and some 30 grassroots groups that oppose dirty gas extraction and are concerned about the health, safety and water impacts from drilling. Even the opposition Liberal Party is calling on the government to impose a moratorium on gas exploration, at least until the process and methods can be proven safe.
Results from a recent Duke University study show that people living less than a kilometre from fracking sites should test their well water, as these wells are shown to have concentrations of methane up to 17 times higher than normal. While fracking has not yet been identified as the cause, the concern is very real amongst communities and residents.
Highlighting the Monday August 1st Day of FRACtion in Fredricton, New Brunswick’s capital, is a planned march involving residents and 16 groups opposed to unconventional gas drilling. The rally begins at noon (12:00 pm). Starting from the Old Burial Grounds (51 Woodstock Rd.) the parade route will take marchers along King St., down Carleton St., across the Pedestrian Bridge, along the Riverfront Trail, and all the way to the province’s Legislature.
At the Legislature, various groups and communities will speak to those attending, including: the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB Action), the Maliseet Grand Council, Our Environment Our Choice, Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis and the Sierra Club Atlantic.
Attendance at the rally and throughout the day is expected to be high and although the 1st is a holiday in the province and the Legislature is not in session right now, CCNB Action’s Stephanie Merrill, Freshwater Protection Programme and Shale Gas Alert Campaign Coordinator feels that this event will send an important message to the province’s decision-makers:
“We are lucky, for most, our province – our home – is supported by clean drinking water, pristine rivers and lakes, fresh air, and green fields…Shale gas exploration and development threaten our home”.
“The level of local involvement in this issue is very encouraging…It means people are paying attention, getting angry, getting active and doing something about it. They are protecting their homes for present and future generations from permanent damage.”
The 16 community groups co-organizing the Day of FRACtion march are:
Ban Fracking NB: Terri Telasco
CCNB Action: Stephanie Merrill
Council of Canadians, Saint John Chapter: Carol Ring
Friends of Mount Carleton: Jean-Louis Deveau
Friends of the UNB Woodlot: Mark D’Arcy or Caroline Lubbe D’Arcy
Hampton Water First: Chris Rendell
Harvey Environmental Action Team: Terri Wishart
Maliseet Grand Council: Alma Brooks
New Brunswickers Against Fracking: Mary de La Valette
Our Environment, Our Choice: Maxime Daigle or Denise Melanson
Penniac Anti Shale Gas Organization: Armand Paul
Quality of Life Initiative: Otty Forgrave
Sierra Club Atlantic Water Committee: Hazel Richardson
Sustainable Energy Group: Sam Arnold
Taymouth Community Association: Jim Emberger
Transition Town Woodstock: Steve Helle
For more information on the rally and march, contact CCNB Action Freshwater Protection Programme and Shale Gas Alert Campaign Coordinator, Stephanie Merrill, at 506.458.8747; [email protected]; and www.ccnbaction.ca.