I promise I am not going to turn this blog into cheer leading for shale gas development. However, it is a potentially important industry and the question that those for and against need to answer is “why not New Brunswick”. Shale gas is being extracted in over a dozen US states and two Canadian provinces and there are plans to double the number of jurisdictions in the next few years. So the question is why not here? If there is a good set of regulations and provisions that flow some of the revenue back to the local communities, why not here? Is there something about our land or rocks or density of residential spaces? Is there some other unique reason that we would turn away our share of this industry?
And to the media, I ask them to set context. I worry that sometimes we in the media debate these issues as if it was Angelina Jolie deciding what colour dress to wear to the Oscars. It’s a fierce debate blue or red but in the end it means nothing. With these big files, it means a lot. Poll after poll in western Canada shows massive majority support for oil and gas exploration – because the public has a direct understanding of how that industry impacts their communities and their society.
The public here need to be subjected to thoughtful media on this important subject because, quite frankly, in an era of “no uranium mine” and “save our NB Power”, I think a government could be brought down over shale gas. It seems quite easy to whip up public anger over these types of flash point issues.
I suspect, but hope I am wrong, the Liberals will try to make this an election issue. A shame, really.