Published on January 26, 2014
Jonathan Stewart, one of the attendees at an anti-fracking meeting in the United Church Hall in Stephenville on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, signs a petition opposing hyrdaulic fracturing.
Published on January 26, 2014
George Murphy, the provincial NDP’s environment and conservation critic, addresses a group of about 70 people at an anti-fracking town hall style meeting in Stephenville on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014.
Government has not convinced people of valid argument for fracking: Murphy
STEPHENVILLE — Jonathan Stewart liked the message that George Murphy brought to an anti-fracking event in Stephenville.
He especially liked the fact that Murphy talked about how Lone Pine Resources Inc., a U.S. fracking company registered in Delaware, which wanted to frack for gas under the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, has threatened to sue Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because of Quebec’s moratorium on fracking.
He said the company is saying this moratorium is violating the oil company’s right to frack and is demanding $250 million in compensation.
In October of 2013, groups like the Council of Canadians, the Réseau québécois sur l’Intégration continentale, the Sierra Club, For Love of Water (FLOW), Eau Secours!, and AmiEs de la Terre were gathering signatures for a letter to Lone Pine urging the company to drop plans to sue Canada.
It was at that time the groups discovered that Lone Pine had quietly filed a request for arbitration indicating that the company was moving forward with the NAFTA lawsuit.
Murphy, the provincial NDP’s environment and conservation critic, said Saturday the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union (EU) and Canada would grant energy companies far-reaching rights to challenge bans and regulations of shale gas development, such as fracking.
“I think Mr. Murphy is showing great concern about hydraulic fracturing and I’m glad he brought to everyone’s attention these facts about NAFTA and CETA and how, through them, the rights of the corporation are protected rather than the rights of the people who live here,” Kathy Marche, a resident of Kippens and a member of the Port au Port/Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Group, said.
Stewart, one of nearly 70 attendees at the event, entitled People’s Frackdown 2, said it was nice to see Murphy explain the issues with NAFTA and CETA because he strongly opposes this proposed hydraulic fracturing process.
Stewart said people in the area should be careful of who they vote in during the next provincial election to deal with this fracking issue.
“We need someone who is going to be trustworthy and have our best interest at heart,” he said. “We need less secrecy from our elected officials and a matter as serious as fracking should be able to be voted on by the people.”
Stewart said, as a worker in Alberta who gets out to oil sites, he doesn’t trust a thing that oil companies say.
“For them it’s anything for profit with little care about the environment.”
Put a face to the issue
Murphy, the NDP MHA for St. John’s East, has been active in the political fight that resulted in the province implementing a moratorium on fracking in November.
He said his role is to give people a voice in the House of Assembly and make sure they can put a face to the issue.
In early November of 2013 that Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley declared a moratorium on fracking in the province. He announced government will not approve fracking onshore and onshore-to-offshore hydraulic fracturing pending further review and government would be doing public consultation before it develops any policy for fracking.
Murphy said even though the moratorium is on, there is a lot of distraction with the Tory leadership, so the NDP is hoping to make sure this issue stays at the forefront.
“We (NDP) want to make sure that if government is going to have that review, that it’s going to be an independent review so government can keep their hands off it,” Murphy said. “Also, to make sure it’s totally scientific.”
Murphy said the NDP would like to see a strengthening of environmental regulations and a full disclosure of chemicals used in fracking.
“If it’s going to be an unsafe process here, particularly when it comes from a workers point of view, along with health and the protection of water then it can’t be allowed to happen,” he said.
Murphy said if people in this province are going to start hearing of water being damaged it’s certainly a good basis to not do fracking at all.
“There are a number of views here, but the biggest view is that (government) has not convinced us yet of a valid argument for fracking.