By Cheryl Norrad
The anti-shale gas drilling lobby in New Brunswick seems to be picking up steam with more public information sessions taking place this week around the Southwest Miramichi. A meeting on shale gas drilling, or fracking as it's more commonly known, was held in Boiestown on Tuesday evening, adding to the many that have already been held around the province on the issue over the past month.
Dozens of citizens came out to the adhoc gathering in Boiestown organized by local physician Dr. Tanya Wood and her husband, Bradley Wood. The documentary Gasland was presented along with speaker Maxime Daigle, an ex-hydrofracking technician who worked in the shale gas industry throughout Canada and the United States.
"We're a group of concerned citizens," said Bradley Wood. "We contacted the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) for information [on shale gas fracking] and they asked us if we'd like to have a public meeting and put on the documentary for them," he said.
Along with the meeting and movie, a petition was circulated on behalf of CCNB to ban shale gas in New Brunswick. A notice announcing upcoming meetings in the area was also sent around.
Shane Clowater, a local businessman, went to the meeting for concrete information since he perceives a disconnect between what the government and drilling company Southwestern Energy (SWE) are saying publicly on the topic.
"I think a lot of people are coming out to these meetings because there's conflicting information from the Ministers, Southwestern Energy and the MLA's, who are especially uninformed," said Clowater.
During the Gasland screening in Boiestown, several audible gasps could be heard coming from those in attendance during a particularly powerful scene showing a man setting running water from his household tap on fire. Learning how the ground water of private homeowners was contaminated by nearby shale natural gas fracking left an impression on many.
"It's scary," said Noreen Norrad, a local resident from nearby Bloomfield Ridge.
Stephanie Merrill of CCNB was scheduled to attend the Boiestown meeting, but asked Daigle to go in her stead as she had been on the road for meetings about the topic and couldn't make it. Daigle drove from Moncton and arrived on crutches having had an operation recently on a torn tendon injured while running. Although a full-time electrical engineering student at NBCC and independent of any environmental agencies, Daigle helps out CCNB on this issue since he's had experience in the fracking industry.
"I got involved because people don't know; government and business are not telling them. To me, that's not democracy," he said.
Besides conventional meetings, social media is also being employed to get the word out on the fracking industry in New Brunswick. The Facebook group New Brunswickers Concerned about Shale Gas, which was set up by CCNB, has 719 people and organizations liking it as of Wednesday evening. Ban Hydraulic Fracturing (hydro-fracking) in New Brunswick, Canada, another Facebook group, has as of this date, 567 people and organizations who like the site. It also has an internet website at BanFrackingNB.ca, which has among other features, a forum for discussion and donations. The group can be found in the Twitter-verse at twitter.com/BanFrackingNB.
The Purple Violet Press made inquires to speak to both groups, however, as of deadline, there was no response.
Further meetings are being held in the Stanley, Doaktown and Chipman areas as this week progresses and throughout the month of June. For more information, go to the CCNB site at the following link: