N.B. groups call on premier to steer clear of shale gas development

Click to play video: 'Groups call on N.B. government to ditch shale gas, promote green energy'
Groups call on N.B. government to ditch shale gas, promote green energy
WATCH: There is vocal opposition to Premier Blaine Higgs’ plan to promote natural gas opportunities in New Brunswick. Forty-seven groups have signed a letter to provincial lawmakers opposing the development of shale gas. As Silas Brown reports, those opposing gas development say the premier isn’t considering other energy sources – May 8, 2023

Nearly 50 groups are calling on Premier Blaine Higgs to abandon his push to expand shale gas extraction in New Brunswick.

A letter calling on the province to steer clear of new shale gas development was sent to all provincial lawmakers by the N.B. Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA), the N.B. Conservation Council and the Sierra Club. The letter was signed by 44 other environmental, health and union organizations.

Jim Emberger of the NBASGA says it’s clear that New Brunswickers aren’t interested in seeing an expansion in the province’s natural gas industry.

“It signified that there still isn’t any social licence in New Brunswick for shale gas development and I think part of that is due, over the last couple of years, to the increasing awareness and concern about climate change,” he said.

Higgs has spent the past several months pitching New Brunswick shale gas as a possible solution to energy needs in Europe and domestically until other technologies like hydrogen become widely available. Higgs told reporters last week that it would be a shame to let the opportunity pass the province by.

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“There’s a big gap. Let’s have that discussion on the reality and say, ‘OK, how do we best play a role in this when we only have a window to utilize what we have under our feet?'” he said.

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“I’m hopeful that rational heads will prevail and we’ll be able to have that discussion meaningfully and objectively.”

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick Premier travelling to World Hydrogen Summit to showcase province’s energy resources'
New Brunswick Premier travelling to World Hydrogen Summit to showcase province’s energy resources

The premier is currently on a trade mission in the Netherlands and France to pitch New Brunswick’s hydrogen and natural gas sectors.

But others say Higgs’ focus on shale gas is distracting him from other energy solutions.

Moe Qureshi, the manager of climate solutions at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, says he worries that natural gas will form a large part of the province’s upcoming energy road map, rather than a mix of renewables and battery storage.

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“There’s no reason to lift this moratorium, the public is against it, it’s detrimental to our environment, to our health, it’s damaging to the land, the water and the air we breathe, so we think it’s time to invest in a clean electricity strategy and move away from these fossil fuels,” he said.

Any expansion of shale gas extraction in the province requires First Nations involvement, and while the government has made a pitch to Indigenous leaders, little progress has been made toward a deal

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