Fracking fluid? Bottom’s up

Someone asked me to comment on the new oil and gas rules released by the government today.

As I have said many times I am not the guy for that.  I read them over and it seems they have tried to address all the concerns.  I don’t know how it will be viewed by industry.   I hope they found the right approach.

The reality there are some really bright guys/gals around that are qualified to talk about this stuff and you wont’ find them voicing over grainy images of burned out wastelands on Youtube.  I saw a presentation by UNB’s Tom Al covering his views on shale gas development last summer.  He was introduced as the most knowledgeable guy in New Brunswick about our geology.

My hope continues to be that we can have a good discussion about this publicly.  I realize there are those being paid to stop the oil and gas industry.  That’s fine.  That’s part of democracy.  There are those paid to promote it as well.

I have to admit some frustration when a guy in Albert County gets his 11 year old son out there on the radio passionately pleading for a moratorium on shale gas development.   Someone told me that when they did pre-drilling well tests out in Albert County in 2011 something like half of them were contaminated – well beyond provincial guidelines.

If water quality is the real issue why not have your 11 year old advocating to clean up the actual problem rather than campaigning against a hypothetical one?  Why not have protests at City Hall demanding action on a real issue rather than a hypothetical one.

It’s hard not to be cynical about the quality of public debates on large public policy issues.

If you want a little levity in your debate, check out the Governor of Colorado who says he has drank fracking fluid to prove it is safe.  Maybe David Alward should tip a glass.

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5 Responses to Fracking fluid? Bottom’s up

  1. mikel says:

    I think I’m repeating myself here but its worth repeating, in Alberta the problem has been with poor well construction in the first place. When you have a well that is fifty years old, that is where the problems come from. HOwever, the point is that in many cases these would be OK so long as people aren’t fracking. Again, one would think it would be a GREAT idea for industry and government to sponsor some kind of program to give local landowners a deal on fixing up wells.

    However, nothing personal but I really need to see some evidence before I buy the line online that ‘some guy said’ how many wells were contaminated. Its a valid point though, I couldn’t find anything online, my searches came up first with ‘142 polluted sites that need cleanup’ which haven’t been, and a Sussex well that was contaminated with perchopolyethylene, and others that were polluted with arsenic. On the good side you can expect LOTS of people to get well testing done, on the bad side virtually everything will be blamed on fracking.

    However, for this government this is too little too late. Go take a look at CBC where the government announces using environmental funds to ‘study’ fracking, the comments are uniformly (and rightly) vicious. At this point virtually NOBODY trusts this government. They can announce all kinds of regulations, but when nobody trusts the government that will not be enough. In the eighties Reagan simply told companies that environmental laws would simply not be enforced. THere are those who are ALREADY ‘for’ fracking and will be no matter what, and there are those who are against it, and this announcement will largely have zero effect.

  2. Darryl says:

    Seems, we have a bit of a similar sense of the fracking debate – I welcome you to read my thoughts on this… It is an older article, but it remains relevant…. http://darryls-soapbox.blogspot.ca/2011/12/time-to-wade-into-fracking-kinda.html

  3. mikel says:

    I don’t think NB has the same problem as NS. The government talks about it CONSTANTLY, yet little is ever done. They are constantly talking to investors and bending over, yet SWN says one of the reasons they stopped testing was their paperwork was being dragged out forever.

    On the other side, these ‘tough new’ regulations still aren’t in place, according to CBC they’ve dumbed down the regulations that previously had the onus on companies to pay for damages UNLESS they could prove they didn’t cause it, to now the government says IT will pay landowners and then try to sue the company itself. Now, if you believe THAT scenario will work as well in practise as in theory, then you are probably about six years old and still far too naive.

    Every time I TRY to give the government the benefit of the doubt, they come out and TALK, and always seem to sound dumber than the last time. I’m HOPING that the media was just playing it up, but it sounded like the energy minister was touting up their ‘time out’ practise which he was saying they’d “stack up against any ‘time out’ policy in the hemisphere”. Who the heck has ever even heard of such a thing? He even goes so far as to say “if they don’t comply we’ll have no trouble sending them to their room”. Who does he think we are, six year olds? What is the policy, don’t hand out crappy metaphors.

    When I tried to compare these ‘time outs’ (you would think that the government would be able to simply stop work rather than tell a company ‘you can’t work for two hours until we find out how many laws you’ve broken’- all I came up with were environmental organizations trying to ‘take a time out’ from fracking altogether, and an interesting story from Arkansas where it seems its become SO clear that fracking fluids are causing earthquakes that they are stopping it altogether (and this is just a YEAR after the whole earthquake issue began and people figured it would take decades to show cause and effect). Maryland is taking a ‘time out’ from fracking, and I saw organizations in virtually every state calling for the same.

    Anyway, we’ve talked fracking to death so I just want to add to Darryl’s point on his blog that the government ‘is under no onus to defend its own policies’. That seems ridiculous from the outset, in a ‘democratic’ society the government should HAVE to defend ALL of its policies, particularly since now our elections have become such a joke they aren’t much more reliable than most puppet states. However, I’d go one further and state that you would think the whole point of Alward bringing in a referendum act would be to actually have referenda.

    I’ve posted my views before, and the Swiss model seems to have worked for them just fine for the last 300 years, and thats one where citizens initiatives can challenge ANY government policy (even the constitution)and force a referendum. In NB, there is NO reason why a cheap referendum couldn’t have been held during the last municipal elections, since it was such a hot topic issue. IF we had referenda regulations that did that, I’d also support Australia’s rules where people HAVE to vote. In NB I suspect the only reason a moratorium would be enforced is because during a municipal election few people vote, and the anti side is definitely more organized and angry. IF every voter in NB voted, I suspect there would be no moratorium, but of course thats just a prediction.

  4. Will says:

    How can the average person vote in a referendum when they don’t understand natural gas extraction except for the fact that they watched Gasland? Even David M Campbell himself doesn’t want to comment. It’s called the tyranny of the majority – the people that are pissed and ignorant (think tea party) will be angry enough to get out and vote, supported by the environmental groups and competing interests. They might even vote to keep their EI and cushy winter vacations.

    We have talked it to death, so let’s get on with it. If somebody’s land has issues (assuming they allow a baseline test on their property beforehand), we can deal with it. There are pipelines and frac’ing going on all over the place. Everything has risk. If you don’t trust the govt well we can’t help you. When people oppose everything they oppose nothing. Whatever have to pragmatists? Now even NDP and Liberals are against it and want to do moratoriums.

  5. mikel says:

    You don’t need to understand gas extraction to vote on it, just like people didn’t have to be constitutional lawyers to vote in the referendum of 1992, and people don’t have to know how VLT’s are made to vote on that either. The fact is, during elections people are expected to understand the issues which parties have policies on. In short, if you don’t think people are smart enough to vote on issues, then you don’t think they are smart enough to vote in elections. That’s your opinion, but don’t expect others to jump on board such fascist notions.

    The point is, its the GOVERNMENT that has let it get to the point where people are pissed. And as far as ‘ignorant’, get real, I’ve read articles by self educated people that make the Minister of the Environment look like an idiot. And of course the minister BEFORE him was pretty close to being one, at least on this file. The assumption here is that ‘government knows best’, when they have very little idea.

    And that’s part of the problem, those who AGREE with government policy will of course preach to ‘get on with it’, which of course means that protestors have to become more and more extreme. IF things like this were dealt with as they came up,then people wouldn’t be ruled by emotions.

    Anyway, its all hypothetical, and essentially a non issue. There is little evidence that there is much gas in the ground anyway, and the government is turning its head toward a gas pipeline.

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