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.