Economist says N.B. must weigh economic benefits, health risks of shale gas
Shale gas testing equipment has lined Route 126 north of Moncton for nine days now but opposition to it doesn’t seem to be letting up.
Anti-fracking protesters were back at the site on Thursday and some area residents say they are concerned about the combination of industry trucks, a large police presence and protesters in the same area.
“If they get out there to block the trucks, and with the police presence, I am just scared somebody is going to get hurt,” says Sheila Handrahan, who lives up the road from where the protesters are based.
Economist Marc Duhamel says it’s critical to weigh the potential economic benefits, along with the potential health and environmental concerns, to see the whole picture.
“We are at the point now that we won’t know how much there is of this resource unless companies are allowed to do the exploration,” says Duhamel.
A nearby Kent County local service district advisory committee recently sent a letter to the Alward government.
Committee member Armin Arend says he resents protesters being painted by some as extremists.
“It is just people that are very, very concerned about the future of their children and of the whole area that we live in,” says Arend.
Susan Holt of the New Brunswick Business Council says public opposition can be a blessing in disguise.
“When we have the kind of resistance and opposition that we’ve seen to shale, it would make an investor think twice,” says Holt. “Although it’s a process we need to go through, we need to have these conversations. The conflict generated can produce some really good outcomes if everybody’s willing to talk, think, be open-minded.”
“I would like for the government to call it all off and say OK, it’s not worth upsetting everybody over,” says Handrahan.
The protesters say they will remain at the site as long as the testing trucks continue to show up.
With files from CTV Atlantic's David Bell