Moratorium on hydraulic fracturing to continue indefinitely27 May 2016
FREDERICTON (GNB) – As a result of the findings from the Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing, the provincial government will continue its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing indefinitely.
“We have been clear that we would not allow this activity to go forward unless our five conditions were met,” said Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault. “Creating jobs is our number one priority, but not at any cost. It is clear that our conditions cannot be satisfied in the foreseeable future.”
The five conditions that must be met include ensuring:
- a social licence is in place;
- clear and credible information is available about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment and water, allowing the government to develop a country-leading regulatory regime with sufficient enforcement capabilities;
- a plan is in place to mitigate the impacts on public infrastructure and to address issues such as waste water disposal;
- a process is in place to respect the duty of the provincial government to consult with First Nations; and
- a mechanism is in place to ensure that benefits are maximized for New Brunswickers, including the development of a proper royalty structure.
“After careful consideration it is clear to us that the industry has not met the conditions,” said Arseneault. “Additionally, the global market for natural gas has seen a precipitous drop in prices, which makes it further unlikely that industry will invest the necessary efforts to address the conditions in the short or medium term.”
Arseneault also noted that prior to September 2014, there was no clear energy policy and no plan to deal with critical issues such as the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, which resulted in a moratorium. Industry proposals to dispose of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing into municipal systems in Moncton or Saint John are not acceptable.
Before the government can consider whether a hydraulic fracturing project meets the five conditions, it must implement a number of findings from the commission that are essential to a robust regulatory and permitting regime, including:
- An independent regulator should be created with a mandate to strengthen New Brunswick’s monitoring and evaluation of shale gas development in terms of understanding cumulative effects, including impact on human health and the environment.
- Adequate resources must be assigned to properly plan for potential public infrastructure impacts.
- Short-term and long-term solutions to hydraulically fractured wastewater should be determined before commercial production begins.
- The provincial government needs to work with aboriginal leadership in New Brunswick to adopt a nation-to-nation consultation process for hydraulic fracturing.
“We believe that this decision strikes the appropriate balance between protecting the environment and creating jobs for New Brunswickers,” said Arseneault. “We will continue to support other resource projects such as the Energy East pipeline and the Sisson mine.”