NB government to introduce fracking moratorium

FREDERICTON – Premier Brian Gallant will introduce a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing that won’t be lifted unless five conditions are met.

Gallant made the announcement Thursday alongside New Brunswick Energy Minister Donald Arseneault.

“The moratorium will not be lifted unless certain conditions are met,” he said. “Our conditions focus on five key areas where more information needs to be gathered and more work needs to be done.”

Those conditions include:

  • A social license in place, which would mean that the public accepts fracking;
  • Credible information on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on health, environment and water allowing the creation of a regulatory regime with good enforcement capabilities;
  • A public infrastructure plan that addresses the issue of waste water disposal;
  • Consultation with First Nations communities;
  • A mechanism to ensure the benefits are maximized including the development of a royalty structure.

When asked if this moratorium would include the exploration stage of fracking, Gallant said if businesses want to continue exploring without doing hydraulic fracturing, that’s allowed.

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“With that said, businesses may say: ‘Well we will not proceed or we cannot proceed because at certain steps we do need to use the step of hydraulic fracturing,” but I don’t want to speak on their behalf,” Gallant said.

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READ MORE: What is shale gas, and why are people protesting against testing for it?

He also said businesses who would have already hydraulically fracked and are getting a supply of gas can continue to do so, as long as they do not frack the well again.

Gallant clarified the moratorium will apply to both propane and water methods of fracking, and will not be a regional moratorium.

He said it’s not an absolute ban, but will not be lifted unless those five conditions are met.

SWN Resources plan to drill four test wells in 2015

The company at the centre of a fracking controversy in New Brunswick said in spring 2015 it hopes to drill four test wells that will help determine the location of shale gas deposits in Queens and Kent counties.

SWN Resources had been planning the vertical test wells in Pangburn, Bronson, Galloway and Lower Saint-Charles.

READ MORE: SWN Resources hopes to drill four test wells in N.B.

Gallant said they can continue with their exploring, which could include seismic work or wells being drilled, but the wells cannot be fracked.

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“The understanding that I have is that if there is a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing even some of the operations that you would do in the exploration phase, you may not undertake them because of the cost without ensuring that you would be able to hydraulically frack when the time would come,” Gallant said.

Conservation Council celebrates, hopes for fracking ban someday

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) was at Gallant’s announcement and said it had been waiting for this day for a long time.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on this file,” said Stephanie Merrill of CCNB. “It’s a really great day to see this come to fruition.”

When asked if they would like to see fracking banned from the province forever, Merrill said they would.

“We don’t support the industry moving ahead at all.”

Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have also passed moratoriums on fracking, though they vary in scope.

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