Letters to the Editor

Friday, 24 February 2012

Boiestown area vote to continue with shale gas concerns local group

Companies can go on to drill in area 

- from the Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance: 

As previously reported, in the summer of 2011 SouthWest Energy (SWN) broke provincial regulations by conducting seismic testing for shale gas within the Rural Community of Upper Miramichi (RCUM) without permission.  As a result in October 2011, UMSA made a presentation to the RCUM mayor and council asking them to take action by: 

      Writing a letter of admonishment addressed to the Premier, the Minister of Natural Resources and Shale Gas group expressing disapproval of SWN for carrying out exploration without permission.
      Passing a motion denying permission for further shale gas exploration in the RCUM.
      Passing a motion denying permission for shale gas production in the RCUM.

In response, at the monthly council meeting held on Dec 19, 2011 Mayor Clowater stated that council had discussed the issues and had decided not to take further action against SWN and described SWN’s disregard for regulations as “an honest mistake”.  In a three to one vote, the council went on to pass a motion allowing SWN to continue shale gas exploration within RCUM’s boundaries.  Councillor Fowler was the sole dissenter. 

What does this mean?  According to provincial regulations, companies looking for oil and gas deposits in New Brunswick must obtain permission to explore within municipal boundaries.  Once testing is complete, these companies do NOT require further permission to start drilling for production.  Therefore blocking exploration is the only means to prevent oil and gas companies from entering our community.  Once drilling begins, there is no way to ask them to leave.