1,500 At Fredericton, NB Anti-Fracking Rally
Over 1,500 people from across New Brunswick and beyond marched through Fredericton yesterday to demand an end to hydraulic fracking and shale gas exploration in the province. Concern over the effects that hydraulic fracking may have on the province's water, for this generation and for those to come, brought out strong representation from the province's English, French, and First Nations communities.
The march wound its way through town, finishing at the Legislative Assembly, where a range of speakers addressed the peaceful, but incensed, crowd.
"The Wabanaki people are not here to celebrate New Brunswick today," said Alma Brooks, a representative of the Wabanaki nation. "To me New Brunswick is just a government, nothing more. You see the flag flying up there (the Mohawk Warrior flag, which had replaced the provincial flag outside of the Legislative Assembly), that speaks the truth."
Central to the growing concern over fracking in New Brunswick is the province's newly-hatched, and largely one-sided, partnership with South Western Energy (SWN). SWN is not the only company looking to frack New Brunswick, but the magnitude and scope of the Texas/Arkansas-headquartered company has the locals worried. Thanks to a March 2010 deal with the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, SWN holds exclusive license to explore 2,518,518 'net undeveloped acres' of New Brunswick. 'Net undeveloped acres' is corporate for 'nature'.
Atlantic Canada's public concern over fracking is not limited to New Brunswick. Solidarity rallies were held yesterday in Inverness, Baddeck, and Truro, Nova Scotia, Charlottetown, PEI, and St. John's, Newfoundland. Indeed, as Hazel Richardson of the Sierra Club of Canada pointed out, many in the Maritime region of Canada have been affected by fracking. As was recently revealed, the Debert Waste Water Facility, owned by Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS), and located in Debert, Nova Scotia, currently handles fracking wastewater from New Brunswick. While AIS representatives have assured the public that they are operating within their guidelines in handling fracking wastewater, this news was disconcerting to many, especially in light of the fact that Nova Scotia is undergoing its own 'environmental assessment' of hydraulic fracking.
"There is a saying." said Richardson. "In a battle between the river and the rock, the river always wins. Not because it's stronger, but because it perseveres. The rock we face seems mountainous. The mining companies have deep pockets, and the government of our province seems so keen to snatch financial crumbs from the company plate, that it is rushing into action that is threatening our land, the wildlife, and ourselves. All of Atlantic Canada has been or is being negatively impacted by hydraulic fracturing. Together Atlantic Canadians stand and say 'No to Shale Gas.'"