The anti-shale gas movement had a strong presence at Friday’s release of a report into hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick.
The report, which does not take a side on the issue, addresses the economic potential and makes a series of recommendations to the government if it wants to lift its moratorium on the practice.
Opponents feel that following through with the recommendations would take years, which works in their favour.
“Until those things are done, there’s no conversation about shale gas development in New Brunswick and by that time we’ve moved on,” Stephanie Merrill from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick said.
The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance believes the financial status of the industry is in free fall.
“At this point and the foreseeable future [it] doesn’t really hold any economic benefit for New Brunswick or anywhere else that doesn’t have it already,” group spokesperson Jim Emberger said.
Fracking has been a polarizing issue in New Brunswick and has led to ugly protests and confrontations. Ron Tremblay, chief of Wolastoq Grand Council, said he wants no part of being included in the consultation process.
“The indigenous people [have] to be in the discussion stages right now because to move forward, we have to be at the table from the get go,” he said.
Some members of the business community believe New Brunswick’s economy is at an all-time low and that investment is needed without too many obstacles.
“If you just restrict everything and put too much regulation on things, we are not going to realize jobs in New Brunswick,” Joel Richardson, vice-president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters in New Brunswick, said.
“We are not going to see people repatriate here and we are going to see companies pack up and move.”
There is no indication of if or when the province will remove its moratorium on the industry, but Richardson said it should happen sooner rather than later.
“Every day the moratorium is in place we’re losing jobs in this province and we are losing investment,” he said.
New Brunswick Natural Resources Minister Donald Arseneault says time is needed “in order to read the report and have a good discussion on it.”
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