Dear Premier Alward:
A new session of the New Brunswick legislature should have been a chance for a fresh start for the government and the people of New Brunswick.
Unfortunately, it seems like allowing hydraulic fracturing in the province continues to be proposed as a solution to the province’s financial and unemployment problems. The argument is that environmental damage and health threats caused by fracking need to be weighed against possible economic growth brought to the province by shale gas. We want to offer a solution that does not offer this false tradeoff: green jobs.
New Brunswick showed regional leadership by creating Efficiency NB - scoring an "A" in energy efficiency in its annual climate change and energy report card in 2011 from the Atlantic Canada Sustainable Energy Coalition (whose members include ourselves and CCNB Action). Ontario’s feed-in tariff legislation supporting growth in the renewable energy sector is estimated to have created 20,000 jobs. New Brunswick needs to create an innovative strategy to further engage the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts a tripling of renewable energy generation will supply one third of the world’s energy by 2035. The IEA also promotes energy efficiency as a key driver of energy futures, since energy efficiency can result in “huge gains for energy security, economic growth and the environment.”
This contrasts with shale gas, the economic promise of which looks increasingly suspect. So-called shale gas “booms” only a couple years old are already going “bust” in many places across the United States. Falling gas prices and fast-depleting reservoirs are encouraging companies to pack-up their bags and exit, leaving few lasting jobs but a host of environmental damages in their wake.
Along with the huge health and environmental risks of fracking, a wise government would also take heed of the political risks. The previous government of New Brunswick was kicked-out in part for not heeding the will of New Brunswickers on the issue of the sale of NB Power. Concerns about the impact of fracking on human health, fresh water, and existing industries like agriculture and tourism have created a similar groundswell, one that crosses political party lines. This diverse citizenry has voiced its concerns loudly and clearly. Premier Alward, you would be wise to heed their collective message.
There is a win-win scenario for this government, and for New Brunswickers … we just need to be smart and courageous enough to seize it!
Emma Hebb, Chair
Atlantic Chapter - Sierra Club Canada
St. George, NB