Will the amped up rhetoric lead to a backlash?

After the Moncton Chamber of Commerce provided its highly qualified support for the potential of shale gas development, the leading group trying to get the industry banned came out with a letter asking for people to boycott chamber members.  It said, among other things:

“Unconventional shale gas exploitation is a Ponzi scheme that will destroy this province just like it has everywhere else it has been used. Banks don’t write mortgages and insurance companies won’t insure properties within range of drilling leases, making everyone’s homes worthless in these areas.”

I understand that this rhetoric will act like red meat to a small group of folks in New Brunswick but I have to think that the average person in this province will be increasingly wary of this kind of way-over-the-top language.  In fact, the shale gas industry is active in hundreds of communities across more than 20 U.S. states and Canadian provinces and most of these communities are benefiting from good paying jobs and tax revenues.  There are some issues that have come to light and governments, industry and environmental groups are working to ensure that regulatory frameworks address them.  The notion that shale gas will ‘destroy the province’ just like ‘everywhere else’ – will ring hollow to anyone who does even the most basic research.

I understand why they are doing this.  They know where to hit.  In the Miramichi there are signs saying that shale gas will wipe out salmon.    In the end, people are not as stupid as some other people think.

Right now the activity in shale gas is in the R&D phase (just like Quebec, by the way).    The commercial drilling using fracking is likely several years away if not further.  We have time to get the regulatory and oversight framework right and as the Moncton Chamber says to figure out how to maximize the benefits to New Brunswickers.

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13 Responses to Will the amped up rhetoric lead to a backlash?

  1. Bev Gaston says:

    Thank you for your positive comments and setting th record straight on this industry.Those of us who want a better way of life for people on the Miramichi have been hearing this sort of rhetoric for many Manymonths and sure appreciate the support of other clear open minded thinkers.
    Thank you again
    BevGaston
    Co-CHair
    Advisory Committee for Shale Gas.

  2. Tide Watcher says:

    The Ban Man and his followers predict the virtual end of the world if the industry proceeds. His group http://www.facebook.com/BanFrackingNB brooks no debate, and anyone proposing an alternate view is summarily blocked from membership or commenting.
    He has made a career of being an activist, and after all this time, prefers the “my way or the highway” approach to the more reasoned public debate.

  3. As usual, David Campbell steps up to shill for the gas industry. No surprises there. For someone who claims to understand economics, I would at least expect him to understand that $2.22/MMBtu and falling doesn’t pay royalties when $5-6/MMBtu is required just to break even. I guess figures like this don’t much matter in the mad rush to shale gas Ponzi scheme though.

  4. I didn’t mention the economics because that argument is almost as strange as the apocalypse argument. The shale gas industry right now is in the R&D phase in New Brunswick and therefore they are not even talking about commercial production. If the firms wait until commercial conditions improve, fine. If they decide for other reasons to develop commercially the resource here they will have to pay royalties on the gas – not matter what the market price. In addition, New Brunswickers would benefit from the tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue each year reinvested in our communities. Therefore, I have never understood the Ponzi scheme concept. Maybe I need someone with even less experience studying economics to explain it to me.

    But this does point out that we would be wise to start thinking about markets for the gas. We could convert the coal fired electricity stations (Colson Cove and in Nova Scotia) and create significant long term demand for our gas to be used here. I would suggest there are other opportunities to build new demand for gas given that it will be around for a long time and it will be reasonably priced for a long time.

  5. Folks, I can’t allow any posts that are pointed, personal attacks – particularly if they include insinuations that may or may not be even correct. I post any and all comments that are specifically about the narrative here. Thanks.

  6. Rupert Penjab says:

    Mr Campbell;
    Working off of the CBC announcement here:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/03/13/nb-moncton-shale-gas-946.html

    I have several grave concerns.

    “The chamber of commerce said it is worth pursuing the exploration for shale gas given the current financial situation of the provincial government and the financial potential of shale gas.”

    *I have no idea of the why, or the how, the Moncton Chamber of Commerce is involved in this business of fracking? Is the Moncton Chamber of Commerce a property owner in the province of New Brunswick? And if they are, one would assume any property they might own would be in Moncton, and how likely would (assuming again) commercial office space be affected by fracking?*

    “The chamber said it does have concerns about the impact of shale gas exploration on the environment and there are conditions for its support.
    Those conditions include strict government regulations that will protect the public, greater transparency and responsible use of royalties.”

    *I have to ask: How likely is this? Have we seen ANY evidence in the past performance of ANY elected provincial government in New Brunswick that they are remotely interested AND capable of actually doing this?*

    “The New Brunswick government is forecasting a $471-million deficit this year.”

    *Is it not yet time for our government to start acting responsibly and living within their/our means? Or, better yet: How much more “free” stuff can we afford?*

    *There are still too many unanswered questions for my liking over shale gas extraction. No matter what we are being told this is not going to get our chestnuts out of the fire, it may be a temporary “fix”, but is not a long term solution*

  7. Bonnie Swift says:

    Wow, I can’t believe the language these anti groups are using it’s so easy to see through the inaccuracies. Everyone one knows that the property values in Canada are the highest in provinces that have oil and gas. Look at Alberta some of the most expensive housing in Canada and it has the highest amount of oil and gas activity. The property values in Alberta are not going down because of pipeline leases and wells site leases they are going up in value, way up! Plus those well leases provided years of rental payments to land owners and those landowners are very happy to receive those guaranteed sources of revenue. If other provinces have been drilling for unconventional gas sources since the 1990s and they are not being hit with huge environmental issues. There is no reason what so ever that unconventional gas should not be developed in NB. As an environmental engineer who has worked on thousands of gas wells, all I can say is the fear mongering and lies are the issue not the industry.

  8. Rick Aubie says:

    The Ban Fracking site and it’s gang of Anti everythings have zero credibility and plenty to hide when it comes to their agenda and what’s driving it. They will eventually go up in smoke as their misinformation is challenged and destroyed.

  9. Rupert Penjab says:

    @Bonnie Swift
    Bonnie: Yes, while it is true “property values in Canada are the highest in provinces that have oil and gas” I *suspect* that would be due to the wage levels attained in those provinces, no? And we don’t really have to compare those wages to the wages in NB do we? And are we to expect Alberta pay levels, in New Brunswick, anytime soon? If you *think* so I *think* you are dreaming.

    What bothers me is: The Moncton Chamber of Commerce owns no property in New Brunswick, they are only representing their membership, who happens to be business people, with the only interest, in this matter, to somehow dodge paying their fair share of the taxes in this province.

    So, on the one hand we have a group with a hidden agenda (because they won’t come out and say it), and on the other hand we have a group promoting irrational fears (or idiocy, but I didn’t want to say that). One seems to sort of cancel out the other, no?

  10. Richard Reeleder says:

    “I *suspect* that would be due to the wage levels attained in those provinces, no?”

    Yes it is. And that, in turn, has been driven by the oil and gas industry. I take it you would prefer that NB wages remain low, no?

  11. Bonnie Swift says:

    It doesn’t matter what happens out there, with billions at stake the shale gas companies are going ahead anyway, none of these companies are backing off. They’ve been through all this anti crap stuff before they know what they are doing. Besides the law is on their side, under the Mineral Rights act (one that has been in place for over 100 years) the mineral right holder has the access to what ever surface rights they required to access their resources. So in the end if a landowner refuses the gas company access to drill the government can override this with and Ministerial order and the company will be able to drill anyway. If the landowner or anyone interferes they go to jail. They deal with issues like these in Alberta and Saskatchewan all the time, people usually back off once they been in jail a few times. They have a system to deal with the crazies. There is a valid reason for these systems, if we didn’t have it nothing would ever get developed.

    In the end all they need is a few landowners anyway. With drilling techniques now they can drill horizontally for km under anyones land and no one would even know, they can put several horizontal drills through one well pad site. Look at Sackville for example the municipality denied Petroworth a permit but the place they were accessing in Sackville was very small anyway. Regardless, they can still access it as they received 159 of 160 permits they were seeking from the surrounding landowners who wanted the gas companies. So what does Petroworth care about access to Sackville surface rights they can still drill under the Town if they choose to from any outside landowners location all the Town did by not giving them a permit was make it so Petroworth does have to given them any information, do any water well test, or offer any compensation. Sackville’s denial did the company a favour as now they don’t have to deal with their crap. The landowners who wanted the wells will get lease payments for the lifetime of the wells.

  12. wink11 says:

    Since it is not published, should I understand that there was something offensive in my earlier post? In any case Bonnie and others have taken up the cause -thank you. If I may, however,a note to Rupert: the GMCC may not be a property owner(or they may be)but in either case should they not be entitled to an opinion? AND they made their decision based on member surveys and discussions with people whose opinion they valued, they did not just draw straws! Unfortunately for you, I guess your name was not on the list?

  13. Bonnie Swift says:

    @wink11
    I didn’t see your post so my post wasn’t directed at you its just me making a general statement. However, I will say this the CMCC is made up of business owners who do live here and who’s personal lives and business lives will be both be affected by the benefits of this industry. I read a study 2 years ago that for every successful gas well drilled up $600,000.00 goes back in the business community in the purchases of services and goods on an annual basis…Over 800,000 direct and indirect new jobs were created in Canada by the gas industry in 2008 alone. Furthermore, if all he big environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Environmental Legal Defense fund say we need this fuel as a cleaner bridge fuel to replace oil and coal…then maybe the GMCC members did the right thing for their business and their families.

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