Fireside chat: Shale gas

FDR used to use his fireside chats to try and explain to people the big changes he was making to the way their government worked.  They were supposed to be a comfortable, relaxing time where the President came into your living room and had a conversation.

Maybe it’s time for Premier Alward to employ this strategy.  The finance minister this morning is warning of big cuts to come in order to slay the budget deficit and at the same time there more and more people tell me the government will end up caving on shale gas and impose some kind of ban or at least hold a referendum.

Why would New Brunswick, facing a huge budget deficit and a serious structural challenge to economic growth, be one of the only jurisdictions in the world to ban shale gas?

It is an interesting question, indeed.

For what it is worth, I call for a little more honesty in the debate here.

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6 Responses to Fireside chat: Shale gas

  1. Adam Harris says:

    Hi David – great column today…strikes me as NB Power sale fiasco all over again…a small but vocal group entrenched in their position is dominating the messaging and poisoning what could be a great economic opportunity for the province. While not without its risks and liabilities, the shale gas industry deserves to be properly assessed for all its potential.

    Hope you will keep the topic in your columns in advocating for more balanced, rational debate.

    Cheers,

    A

  2. kamil says:

    hello Bloggers, yes a debate is required, but with industry being able to donate money to these poliotical parties, well thats kind of a conflict of interest, if you ask me no one should be able to donate moeny to political parties, if they want to doante money they should donate to the province and these moneys should be distributed equally amoungst all registered politcal parties, but thats another debate.
    Dave please have a read of the link below.
    http://webyxorp.com/glype-proxy.php/Oi8vd3d3/LmZhY2Vi/b29rLmNv/bS9ub3Rl/cy9zaGFs/ZS1nYXMt/aW5mby9z/aGFsZS1n/YXMtbXkt/cG9pbnQt/b2Ytdmll/dy1vbi13/ZWxscy10/aGUtZXhw/ZXJpbWVu/dC10aGUt/bG9uZ2V2/aXR5LW9m/LXN0cnVj/dHVyZXMv/MjExMjg2/OTA4OTA3/MjQw/b15/

  3. anon says:

    I’m one of the individuals saying no; but my position isn’t based on counter-evidence, or being whipped up by “gasland”. Logically, the burden of proof is on the “yes” side, not the “no” side.

    I’d very much like to “buy-in” to the shale gas initiative. It actually shouldn’t take much to convince me to get behinf this 100%.

    My issue is the I believe the government is simply doing a horrible job at managing this, and therefore this raises concerns that they may not be _capable_ of looking out for our best – short and long term – interests.

    The Government hasn’t yet convinced me that they have enough knowledge about how this industry operates, or how best to regulate it (I may have missed the reports on the proposed regulator framework… that is not industry watching themselves (ie “Don’t worry, we’ll post bonds… but then there is no regulatory framework that can ascertain and measure affects, therefore accountability is lost).

    Also, the Government seemed to go with this too quickly, the undertone of the message was “We (Government) are looking into this, and we will look out for the best interests of this province (etc)… but this is really cool, great, WOW what an opportunity, we need to run with this”. So I’m also concerned that they also lack the leadership and strength to look out for our best interests, even if they were well informed.

    So, I until I’m convinced the government has the ability, and leadership to look out for the short and long term interests of the province, I’m all in for the no side.

    *sigh* considering how little it would take me top get me on-board, this really isn’t a good reflection on the state of our political leadership – Liberal or PC.

    PS This message is less about critique, and more of a plea to see the government get things sorted out. We really need this to happen, but that doesn’t mean “at all costs”. This, I believe, is a problem of the Government getting in the way of progress, not the road blocking protestors.

  4. Citizen X says:

    If you’re seriously wondering why people are so opposed to shale gas, I think the answer is quite simple: Stone Phillips, or some other incarnation of him, was on the idiot box profiling a story on how a single household in Pennsylvania somehow had flammable water in their home. That is all the evidence they need before the run to Tom Horton’s to pass it on as the result of their own scientific testing. The “Double-Double” Prohpets are the ones you see on the new, read about in the papers, and find on the lawn of the Legislature when it comes time to debate these issues. The informed people are sitting at home hoping that their government has the sense/courage to make the best decision for the province.

  5. Reddy _KW says:

    Yes agree with original article. Let’s have some facts.

    As an aside, after all, what is bad about free methane? Even without extra piping!

    Seriously the govt really needs to be showing some leadership and helping us see whether it is only insiders like the Mr. Graham senior who may profit. World wide natural gas prices have been weak for some time, so maybe a big rush is not the best strategy now, but this is the time for govt to show us more facts so decisions and reactions can be based on more information.

  6. John Skelton says:

    Hydrofracking vandals do NB a disservice
    Some talented NB people are starting to fit the Groucho Marx vision of politics – look for trouble, find it everywhere, diagnose it incorrectly and apply the wrong remedies.
    Partisan hydrofracking ‘research’ is fuelling so much fear that two out of three NB political parties now favour a shale gas development ban. Modern day luddites are fanning passions with stories of hydrofracking disasters such as occurred in Pennsylvania where incompetent operators drilled gassy coal fields and ruined the local water supply. Propaganda films such as ‘Gasland’ are cited as the gospel truth about the perils of this wicked technology.
    No protestor, however, cites the successes in North Dakota where, since 2006, hydrofracking has been credited with reducing unemployment in the state to the lowest in the U.S. and to attracting so many newcomers that housing shortages are occurring in many areas. Best of all this has been accomplished without contamination of the water supply. The North Dakota secret is staged or ‘fancy’ fracking where drill bits 10,000 feet down are manoeuvred horizontally along a wavy pay zone only 10 to 50 feet thick. This is followed by shaped charges to frack the seam with sophisticated sensors determining whether any leaks from the seam have occurred; if any have shotcrete is immediately rammed in to create a permanent seal within the ‘oreo’ zone. The gas is eased to the surface along a sealed pathway using a friction reducer composed of sand, ceramic crystals, water, guar gum, glass cleaner, salt (potassium chloride), antifreeze and swimming pool cleaners. This is indeed technology of a high order and it has not been developed without many a bumble and stumble along the way.
    North Dakotans have succeeded in developing a regulatory framework to ensure that environmental safety comes before profits. Every drop of the friction reducer must be recycled.
    The State has been so successful in monitoring the industry that the protestors – initially there were quite a few – have faded to a very small minority (you can never please everyone).
    Our NB luddites should pause on learning of this North Dakota success. Hydrofracking is the best chance in several generations for NB to break out of its economic doldrums. If our protestors approached this opportunity as if it were a tough university course requiring rigorous analysis of all aspects of the industry we might start making progress. Mindless diatribes will not impress your professors. Another benefit: your children observing this process would learn some critical thinking skills.
    A good start on this refocusing process would be to consult some authoritative sources. Dr. Adrian Park of UNB’s Earth Sciences Department is one; other universities also have experts. Industry sources as well as advocacy groups should be consulted only with extreme caution.

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