Avoiding a natural gas lockout in New Brunswick

As usual when I write anything about shale I’ll get a few emails/Tweets that are quite harsh.  In my opinion, it doesn’t add much to any debate to hurl insults.

But I will respond to the person suggesting I rewatch Gasland.

I saw Gasland but I don’t see much value in rewatching it.

Watching Gasland, at best, is like watching a hockey highlight reel where they only show the hits that led to concussions over the course of a year.  And they play those hits over and over.

No spectacular goals, no amazing saves, no tense moments when the fans are frenzied – just a serious of head shots and concussions.

I refuse to demonize natural gas.   It is a very valuable fuel.  Over 10,000 New Brunswick homes and businesses use it as their main source of heat.  It’s an excellent cooking fuel, too.  A number of our large industries are more competitive because of it and likely able to keep New Brunswickers employed.    Much of the electricity production in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is now gas-fired – reducing our dependency on dirtier oil and coal.

If we see an exploration and production industry emerge in New Brunswick, natural gas will also start to become a significant direct economic driver.

The highlight reel for natural gas would include a few concussion hits but it also would include many spectacular advantages.  It might even show the hospital beds and doctors that exist in this country because of the revenue generated by the gas industry.

Unfortunately, the public doesn’t see my highlight reel.  They see opposition politicians serving up the concussions.  They search for ‘fracking’ on Youtube and see the concussion hits.  When they accidentally stumble upon an industry-sponsored natural gas highlight reel they are suspicious because they have been told be suspicious about anything to do with oil and gas in general.

I hope we avoid  a natural gas ‘lockout’ (I  know – stretching the hockey metaphor too far).

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7 Responses to Avoiding a natural gas lockout in New Brunswick

  1. Sean Thompson says:

    How much do you think the demonization of natural gas/hydrofracking has to do with people’s mistrust of government and industry? I may be reading the situation wrong, but I find many of the arguments against fracking are grounded in cynicism – people not believing the claims from those controlling the industry because they believe those players are only looking out for their own bank accounts.

    For what it’s worth, I support the kind of cautious development into shale gas development Prof. Lapierre advocated in his report. There are risks, but I doubt there’s an accurate way to gauge those risks without some tentative development. As well, I’m keenly aware of the unemployment rate in my demographic (15-24 y.o., and yes, I am unemployed) and have talked to many friends from high school and university who are either moving out west or making plans to. I know I’m not going to be pumping gas out of the ground (I’m still harbouring ambitions of professional librarianship), but I know we have to do something to get people my age working in New Brunswick unless we want this province to go into a death spiral. If the risks of shale gas turn out to be minimal, great. We can create jobs in the gas industry and other industries needed to sustain that industry and its workers. If the risks turn out to be too great (greater than even you or I expect), at least we can say we investigated the industry thoroughly and came to a decision based on demonstrated fact and weighing of known risk, not fear and conjecture. Apologies if my rant is a bit long (brevity was never a strong suit), but I had to say this much after asking my question and yours was the forum I came upon to say it.

  2. I think that is a fair statement. But we have to find a way to get beyond mistrust. Someone suggested we hire Schlumberger or one of the larger oil and gas services providers to be an external monitor of the drilling, waste water disposal, etc. I’m not sure how but if mistrust leads someone to shoot themselves in the foot – everyone loses.

  3. Richard Reeleder says:

    The media certainly play a role locally with respect to trust of various institutions, including government. The Irving press is always suspected of slanting new coverage of issues. People often expect the CBC to do a better job, but it often doesn’t. For example, CBC Radio’s Information Morning show out of Fredericton had interviews this week with both Dr LaPierre and Cleary. The approach of the host Terry Seguin towards each was striking. LaPierre was treated to a series of ‘gotcha’ questions while Cleary received softball questions and was treated as if every word was golden. As per usual, the host appeared to be playing to his audience, telling them what he thought they wanted to hear. I don’t know about anyone else, but I expect my taxes to be used by the CBC to provide quality reporting. Instead, we get pandering to the audience in order to gain or maintain market share. Its no wonder issues get polarized.

  4. mikel says:

    To Mr. Thompson I’d recommend Western University’s Masters program, because if you really want to be a librarian, that’s what you need. It’s also been awhile since NB has been hiring, it is the ONLY province where libraries are run by the provincial government, rather than municipal governments.

    Anyway, as always the blame is being misplaced-it has NOT been the government that has driven away gas. The liberals were the ones that first developed it, and the tories are regulating it. There are people who protest, but so what? The only difference is social media, because, again, go watch “Forbidden Forest” and you will see the exact same level of protest over timber leases, and that amounted to diddly squat at the level of legislation.

    Again, protest has so far had a BENEFICIAL effect. The new regulations will mean that the industry will be held to standards it SAID it would do voluntarily, but quickly proved it wouldn’t. It ups the royalty rate, which means the province will get more revenue. And the protest will mean that there will be a real interest in job creation, because that is almost all the government has on its side. IF the industry creates jobs, then all the protest in the world won’t matter-the government knows that better than anybody.

    And I think the other commentors are spot on. NOBODY believes the government, nor should they. Alward promised the moon and never even MENTIONED deficits, and thats virtually ALL they talk or legislate about. And I strongly encourage readers to go watch Forbidden Forest at the National Film Board’s website (or youtube) if you are under the impression that the Department of the Environment really has ANY interest in the environment.

    But always remember that media likes screamers, and thats what we hear. The shale gas protests in Fredericton have actually gotten smaller and smaller, and we really don’t know how big they were in the first place. I also agree about the CBC, I find their reporting to be quite sub par. I never heard those interviews, and its possible that somebody with a bias might THINK they heard more than they did, but its far from the case that CBC is ‘unbiased’.

  5. D says:

    I love natural gas …can wait till we are producing our own in NB..it just burns so dam clean compared to other fuels. Having work on 1200 non-conventional gas projects, I’ve never seen any of the garbage the anti’s put out there. After 20 years Iv’e never never seen it…lot’s of environmental damage from coal and heavy oil, but not much of anything from natural gas. Most of these gas facilities you can eat off the floors. Yes, there will be some truck disturbances during well and pipeline construction, but that will be short lived, it last only a few weeks, for years of clean burning fuel, it is worth it. The surface disturbances are minimal because everything is delivered in underground pipe, better than trucking fuel all over the province forever. Long-term this is the environmental and economic solution for this province.

  6. Lorne Amos says:

    Well written Mr.Campbell.In 1492 Columbus took a chance and discovered a whole new continent.Let NB take a chance, maybe we will discover a huge field of “white gold” (maybe even yellow gold) miles underneath us. We might even discover that it can be extracted safely, not affecting the water that lies 3 or 4 hundred metres under us.6 or 8 inches of steel pipe reinforced and sealed with special concrete presents less of a hazard going through this water table than the excrement from a 1000 strong cattle herd being deposited directly into it.Yes,mikel, the protests have helped some, but the leaders (non NBers) got carried away and used half truths and outright lies as scare tactics to fool the general population. Fortunately, they misunderstood the intelligence of the average NBer who figured out their foolishness, hence smaller and smaller crowds at their cardboard box protests. French fries?? Most people love them, but not when they are on the sidewalks looking like idiots !

  7. BB says:

    Gasland is a movie lets not forget that. I watched it, I found it entertaining as movies should be. However, being well informed in this industry I knew it was also full of inaccuracies. I didn’t care because it was a MOVIE!…Regardless, of my knowledge I new one thing for sure, I wasn’t making an economic or environmental decisions based on a movie.

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