Office of the Premier
Government introduces moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick18 December 2014
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has introduced a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the province, following through on its commitment to New Brunswickers.
“Creating jobs is our government’s top priority but we need to do this in a responsible and sustainable way. Today our government is bringing forward legislation to proceed with a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing activity in New Brunswick, as we committed to doing in Moving New Brunswick Forward,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “We have been clear from day one that we will impose a moratorium until risks to the environment, health and water are understood.”
Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault will introduce an amendment to the Oil and Natural Gas Act that will allow government to prohibit hydraulic fracturing activity. The moratorium will not be lifted unless more information is gathered and certain conditions are addressed.
“Our conditions focus on five key areas where more information needs to be gathered and more work needs to be done,” said Gallant. “The moratorium will not be lifted unless we are satisfied that these conditions have been met.”
Gallant outlined the following conditions. The moratorium will not be lifted unless there is:
· A social license in place;
· Clear and credible information about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on our health, environment and water, allowing us to develop country-leading regulatory regime with sufficient enforcement capabilities;
· A plan that mitigates the impacts on our public infrastructure and that addresses issues such as waste water disposal;
· A process in place to respect our obligations under the duty to consult with First Nations;
· A mechanism in place to ensure that benefits are maximized for New Brunswickers, including the development of a proper royalty structure.
“We are not interested in putting all our eggs in a single basket, so we are actively and diligently pursuing several job creation opportunities for our province,” said Arseneault. “We will continue to take a safe and responsible approach to energy and natural resources opportunities while diversifying New Brunswick’s economy.”
Gallant also reiterated the government’s commitment to natural resource development and energy projects, such as the Energy East Pipeline, the conversion of the Canaport LNG terminal and the Sisson mine.
“These projects have great potential to move the province forward and ensure a strong economic future,” added Gallant. “These projects will advance the provincial government’s key priority of job creation.
What exactly does ‘moratorium’ mean in this context?
The moratorium is a cessation and prohibition of all types of hydraulic fracturing throughout New Brunswick.
Does the moratorium amount to an outright ban?
No, the moratorium is a temporary cessation and prohibition of all types of hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick.
How will the moratorium be implemented?
The amendment to the Oil and Natural Gas Act will allow the government to proceed with prohibiting hydraulic fracturing activity from taking place in the province.
How can the moratorium be lifted?
The moratorium will not be lifted unless we are satisfied that five conditions have been met.
What are the conditions and what is the rationale for each?
The moratorium will not be lifted unless there is:
· A social license;
This will be sought through extensive consultation and engagement exercises with New Brunswickers in order to achieve social acceptance.
· Clear and credible information;
This will permit us to compile clear and credible information about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on our health, environment and water in order to better inform our decision, allowing us to develop a country leading regulatory regime with sufficient enforcement capabilities.
· An infrastructure Plan;
This analysis and planning will enable us to mitigate potential impacts on our public assets and address other related issues such as the disposal of waste water.
· Proper consultations with First Nations;
This exercise would have to ensure that we are fulfilling the crown’s obligations under the duty to consult.
· Maximized benefits
There would need to be clear benefits for New Brunswickers to proceed.
Does this moratorium make a distinction between hydraulic fracturing with propane and water?
Although there are some differences between hydraulic fracturing with propane and hydraulic fracturing with water, the moratorium applies to hydraulic fracturing by any means.
Is this moratorium regional?
What will happen to current leases and operations?
Current agreements will remain in place, but all hydraulic fracturing will be prohibited for the duration of the moratorium.
When will the moratorium take effect?
The moratorium will be effective when the changes to the Oil and Natural Gas Act are proclaimed in the legislative assembly.
How long will it be in effect?
The goal is to gather adequate information to better inform our decisions as a province. The moratorium will not be lifted unless we are satisfied that our five conditions are met.
What are other jurisdictions in our region doing?
There is currently a moratorium in place in Quebec, and in Newfoundland and Labrador. An onshore ban is in place in Nova Scotia.
Many other jurisdictions around the world have moratoriums or bans in place, including the recent of addition of New York State this past week.