FREDERICTON - The Opposition Liberals want the provincial Minister of Natural Resources to take immediate action regarding the incident that occurred in Sussex earlier this week.
Windsor Energy Corp, the company performing seismic testing in the Sussex area, moved forward with its testing without waiting for the town council's vote on the issue, claiming the wait would have cost them $60,000.
Denis Landry, Natural Resources critic for the Official Opposition and MLA for Centre-Peninsule-Saint Sauveur, said he was deeply concerned about the situation.
"These companies need municipal approval before performing seismic testing within municipal boundaries," said Landry. "If they can so easily break the rules for $60,000, there's no way of knowing how far they will go when more of their money is at risk"
"The Alward government has told New Brunswickers time and again that we have nothing to worry about, that we are still in the very early stages of development," continued Landry. "If companies are breaking New Brunswickers' trust now, in these early stages, can they be trusted to do things right when the actual drilling and hydraulic-fracturing happens?"
Landry said the Minister needs to clarify the situation immediately. If Windsor Energy Corp didn't break the rules, then municipalities have no power to to stop shale gas exploration or hydraulic-fracturing, contrary to what Minister Northrup has said in the past.
However, if the company did break the rules, the Opposition believes there should be a stiff penalty to prove to New Brunswickers that the Alward government is putting the concerns of New Brunswickers ahead of the concerns of industry.
"There is a need for stronger regulations, as well as penalties for companies who do not comply with these regulations," said Landry. "It is not enough to give them a slap on the wrist and let them carry on with their work. They need to know that we are serious about this."
The Opposition Liberals have called for a for a moratorium on shale gas development until such time as proper regulations are in place to ensure the protection of New Brunswickers' health and water source.