N.B gov't releases recommendations on shale gas
Published Friday, May 18, 2012 6:40AM ADT
Long-awaited regulations governing New Brunswick's shale gas industry are still on hold.
It was expected David Alward's government would unveil new regulations on Thursday. Instead, the government released a discussion paper with more than 100 recommendations and the promise of a consultation tour.
The discussion paper could eventually become the regulations, but not until after a sixty-day public consultation period.
"My main objective is to put the legislation in in the fall," says New Brunswick Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup. "We get back sometime in the middle of November, before Christmas, so I want this legislation in place going in to 2013."
Among the 160 recommendations is increased royalties to be paid by industry, protection of water sources and intense monitoring of the entire process.
"If the industry does progress, we'll certainly meet the needs that we feel are needed and come to a level of staffing that will ensure the level of protection of the people out there," says New Brunswick Environment Minister Bruce Fitch.
Reaction to the recommendations and the government's plan was swift and pointed.
"The regulations that we are waiting for are not really there because it's still a discussion paper," says Liberal MLA Denis Landry.
"We've seen that the prices have collapsed, the environmental questions are unanswered and the risks are huge," added NDP Leader Dominic Cardy. "Why spend all this money setting up world class regulations for an industry that's not going to give us anything in return?"
Tracy Glyn of the New Brunswick Conservation Council doesn't think the shale gas industry is good for the province, regardless of the regulations.
"It doesn't matter what type of regulations we bring in, it's not an industry that is suitable for New Brunswick or probably anywhere in the world," says Glyn.
Angie Leonard of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers welcomes the clarification the recommendations could bring.
"Industry welcomes regulations that provide for reasonable and responsible development in any jurisdiction and, obviously, safety does come with a cost and we'll analyze those costs," says Leonard.
Northrup says there is time to consult on the regulatory framework and no fracking is scheduled to take place this year.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell