Government cites concerns over potential danger to water supplies and the rights of landowners.
Fredericton (10 Nov. 2010) - The New Brunswick government is reviewing provincial oil and gas exploration laws, including the controversial practice of hydro-fracking where water, sand and chemicals are injected into the earth under high pressure to loosen previously-unreachable natural gas deposits.
Critics say the practice endangers water supplies. Millions of gallons of water laced with chemicals are required for each well.
Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup announced this week that the province's new Conservative government wants to make sure that any future testing for oil and gas is safe.
Northrup represents a southern New Brunswick constituency (Penobsquis) where many residents believe drilling has caused wells to dry up.
"It really hit home when I got elected in 2006, to see the frustration, and the anger on the faces of the people in the Penobsquis area, I don't want to see that again," Northrup told a mining conference this week.
"It was very time consuming and frustrating for people who live in that area. You can just imagine yourself, if you lost your water, it's almost like losing your power. You take it for granted and that's what we want to do and we're going to step up to the plate, and do it right."
The Conservatives promised in the recent provincial election campaign to review the regulations and laws governing mineral extraction. A moratorium has recently been announced on further hydro-fracking in two American states, New York and Pennsylvania.
Quebec has imposed a moratorium on further oil and gas development from the Ontario border to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and is reviewing shale gas permits already issued to seven companies.
"Our goal will be to better inform landowners when exploration is taking place on their property, and to protect their rights," Northrup said.
Apache Corporation and Corridor Resources Inc. are using the hydro-fracking drilling techniques in the Elgin area. They have agreed to participate in a new phased environmental process that is being overseen by the New Brunswick government.
The new review process would require companies to get approvals at the beginning of a project, before drill sites are selected and at almost every step leading to commercial production. The entire assessment process would be open to the public.
Meanwhile, the practice of hydro-fracking is causing a controversy in Prince Edward Island where the province recently granted drilling rights to PetroWorth Resources Inc., a Toronto based oil and gas company. The company has a partnership arrangement with Corridor Resources Inc.
The Prince Edward Island Union of Public Sector Employees (PEIUPSE/NUPGE) has called on the provincial government to halt all drilling until it can be conclusively shown that hydro-fracking is safe.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
PEIUPSE urges government to halt hydro-fracking