Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

FORUMe 2012 - Evolving social values, natural resources and the economy

*Apologies to readers for not posting sooner, technical difficulties affected video downloading this afternoon* 

Above, FORUMe 2012 attendees listen intently to a panel discussion of experts on day 1 of the two-day conference.

Earlier this week, a two-day forum on provincial natural resource development took place in Moncton with over 200 people in attendance. 

Billed as an information exchange, FORUMe 2012  was a way for government, industry and business to create public awareness of their role in shale gas development in the province, while getting feedback from other stakeholders who are concerned about its environmental effects.

But at heart, the gathering was really a dialogue on how to find a way forward in the development of shale gas in New Brunswick that balances both the environment and economic needs of the province. 

Organized by both U de M and UNB, and sponsored by prominent businesses around the province, the forum consisted of panel discussions on topics surrounding the burgeoning shale gas industry in New Brunswick.

Four panels were arrayed throughout the two-day conference and made up of respected academics, economists, government representatives, policy analysts, as well as  environmentalists and conservationists. 

The panelists presented their papers on the specific subject, after which a debate took place. Questions from the audience on the floor, and via Facebook and Twitter, were also put to them.

Topics discussed include effects of the changing social landscape on the economy, balancing the environment with the economy, and regulations to protect the public and environment.

These experts traveled from as far away as Alberta, New York and Pennsylvania, while others came from around the Maritimes. 

Keynote speakers were leader of the Opposition, Victor Boudreau, Premier David Alward and the Honorable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources Canada.

The general public will be consulted for it's input on shale gas development in meetings held around the province over the next month. This publication has posted the list of meeting dates for those with an interest in attending.

The videos below give an overview of the personalities and points of view that comprised FORUM 2012:

Simon Dyer, above, of the Pembina Institute in Calgary, Alberta attended the FORUMe 2012 conference, bringing his expertise on how responsible natural resource development is better for the economy. In the video, he gives his opinion on the importance of conferences like FORUMe 2012.

David Campbell, above, is a respected New Brunswick economist with a column in the Telegraph Journal and his own firm, Jupia Consulting. In the video, he discusses how the conference has brought rational debate from different sides of shale gas development instead of fearful rhetoric.

Mark Boling, Secretary, Executive Vice-President and General Counsel at American oil and gas giant, SWN, which has operations here, is asked whether, in his experience, the proposed regulations by the province of New Brunswick are indeed the toughest in North America as the government claims. 

Opposition Liberal environment critic Denis Landry, above, re-iterates his party's call for a moratorium on the shale gas industry in New Brunswick after hearing experts say industry technology changes rapidly, making it difficult for governments to properly oversee its development.

Kim Nash-McKinley, above, President/Chief of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council voices frustration at the continued refusal of government and industry to consider the treaty rights of Natives living off reserve in relation to shale gas development.

Stephanie Merrill, above, of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick was the lone environmental advocate invited to bring the voice of the province's citizens who oppose shale gas development into the conference.

Annie Daigle of the government's Natural Gas Group, the steering committee on shale gas development in New Brunswick, clarifies the province's position on full disclosure of fracking chemicals for shale gas companies that want to operate in New Brunswick.  


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