I thought the movie Gasland was a straight up Michael Moore moment. A guy investigates shale gas development – takes a very narrow and one-sided view – and ends up likely becoming a millionaire on the profits.
The truth is Gasland probably was one of the best things that could happen to the shale gas industry. It helped to clarify the regulatory environment. It helped the industry and governments understand the importance of public support and acceptance for new ways of doing things.
The reality is there have been very few – if any – broad-based drilling bans as a result of Gasland. Even the Governor of New York is said to be rethinking the ban in upstate New York (and the Quebec ban has an expiry date).
Gasland’s biggest impact was to bring more clarity. Now, I suspect the industry might not necessarily agree with me on this. It has caused significant headaches. It can’t be fun to have Mayors and other politicians using the industry to score populist political points.
But in the end, a clarified regulatory environment and broad public debate will be better for the industry.
That is the benefit of Gasland.
Of course, in New Brunswick the effect of Gasland may end up being a ban on drilling (two of the three main political parties are calling for a ban).
And to this I say again, why New Brunswick?
Why not use the lessons of recent history to get the regulatory environment right and to ensure that economic benefits flow back to communities? Why not use this moment to reinforce the linkage between economic development and our quality of life? To explain to people that shale gas is an opportunity – the richness of NB’s deposits give us an advantage over some others – an advantage we can rarely claim these days.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, BC and Newfoundland have exploited their oil and gas to great benefit. Why can’t we?