Networking ideas: Anti-fracking network in western Newfoundland insists on independent review of process

Gary Kean
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Members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Fracking Awareness Network, including, from left, Kenny Bennett, Ed English, Bill O'Gorman and Wayne Hounsell, discuss their concerns about the controversial practice at a news conference in Corner Brook Thursday morning.

Kenny Bennett tries to always be positive in his personal ife, so he doesn’t consider himself as being against a whole lot of things.

What the Mi’kmaq cultural leader from Stephenville Crossing does support is a clean, healthy environment.

If hydraulic fracturing threatens that in any way, then he believes it needs a good hard look at before the oil and gas industry is allowed to use the controversial extraction process.

Bennett represents one of 20 organizations that have come together to form the Newfoundland and Labrador Fracking Awareness Network. The network’s representatives held a news conference in Corner Brook Thursday morning to jointly call on the provincial government to commission an independent review of hydraulic fracturing — or fracking as it is commonly called — and the potential impacts the practice could have in western Newfoundland and off its shores. Bennett was humbled to see so many voices come together to promote not only a healthy environment, but to also promote the right to speak up and to be heard by government.

“It can’t be ignored when you get so many groups together with a common voice asking for this review,” said Bennett.

The organizations that make up the network represent various sectors throughout western Newfoundland, including environmental and social justice movements, the medical community, property owners, the fishery and the tourism industry.

In outlining their concerns about fracking, the network said there are “major gaps in scientific knowledge” around the oil and gas extraction process. The Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board has stated it does not agree with recent reports recommending the oil and gas industry move slowly when it comes to using the fracking process because of those gaps in scientific knowledge.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced in November 2013 it would not be accepting any applications for oil exploration that involved fracking until it had completed an internal review. The network wants more assurance than that.

“We want a commitment from government for an external, public, independent review,” said Wayne Hounsell of the Port au Port/Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Group, one of the member organizations in the network.

Tourism operator Ed English was there to speak on behalf of Go Western Newfoundland, the destination management organization that represents some 600 tourism operations in western Newfoundland. He said the provincial government needs to know for sure if fracking could jeopardize the tourism sector the province is trying to grow.

“We are concerned that, if this doesn’t get a proper review, then decisions could be made that could affect tourism,” said English. “Gros Morne is the flagship for drawing attention to that, but it’s not just that area. It’s all up and down the west coast with tourism operations stretching all along the coastline.”

Ann Marceau, representing the Gros Morne Coastal Alliance, said the area’s residents that make up that organization are also concerned about the unknown impacts of using fracking. She said it doesn’t make sense to risk the growing tourism industry to find oil and gas that may or may not even be feasible to retrieve. She said to expose the success of the tourism industry to such risk “betrays” the understanding of the good thing that is already there.

“(Tourism) may not be the absolute salvation of the community, but it is a long-term viable future that governments, the private sector and the communities have embraced and are actively pursuing,” she said.

“To risk that for something that has unknown risks, that has documented cases of negative consequences ... just doesn’t seem like a wise move.”

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Fracking Awareness Network, Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Corner Brook, Port au Port

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Recent comments

  • Shane Thomas
    August 16, 2014 - 08:37

    Mr. David Murray there many places in the world have carried out fracking with many davasting environmental repercussions. Be serious!! Black Spruce Exploration says the public needs to focus on the science of hydraulic fracturing, rather than the politics of it. We know the Science proof is out there.You want proof here it is.. you want science here they are with full reports and full reviews Jessica Ernst master degree in Science more than 30 years involve in the Oil & Gas Industry. Will know Scientist. Dr. Anthony Ingraffea has been a principal investigator on research and development projects ranging from the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through Schlumberger, Gas Research Institute, Sandia National Laboratories, Association of Iron and Steel Engineers, General Dynamics, Will known proffessor active in the Oil & Gas help devolpe Hydrualic Fractuting know as Fracking. Ben Parfitt is a resource policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and research associate with the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on Ecological Governance. He is author of Counting Every Drop: The Case for Water Use Reporting in B.C Richard Heinberg Dan Thomas a formal Oil Engineer of Alberta David R. Brown, Sc.D. Public Health Toxicologist Environment and Human Health Inc. Dr. Gary Tresidder Cochrane Alberta. Howard and Nielle Hawkwood are farmer / ranchers from Lochend, Alberta. They live on their Family Farm Chelan H is a landowner in the Bearspaw, Alberta Dan & Elaine Thomas Maude Barlow Dr Poune Saberi French and Quebec Delegation Carol French is a dairy farmer in Bradford County Pennsylvania. David Suzuki is a will respected Scientist will known worldwide that has been around more than 50 years. He already gave us the answers for Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) Say No!! Do not allow it to happen Newfoundland..

  • roger
    May 16, 2014 - 07:20

    That's funny Dennis as the only emotion base comments I've seen have come from fear mongers like yourself and David above. For David's comment above: "...levels of methane were 17 times higher on average in water wells located within a kilometer of active hydrofracking sites" from the DUKE PHD peer review study There are several other documented peer reviewed studies that identify many pathways of this extraction process and how it could contaminate water (transportation spills, well casing leaks, leaks through fractured rock, wastewater disposal etc..), these groups are asking that further study be completed prior to jumping right into this. They want to mitigate risks, protect themselves and their communities. Nothing wrong with that unless you make something of it like David does above providing falsehoods.

  • David
    May 15, 2014 - 16:10

    If you'd like evidence, follow the link, click on the "What the Frack?" segment, and listen. Speaking of stupid, it's difficult to imagine something more stupid than producing methane gas on an island that has no pipes to transport it (and poisoning the environment in the process).

  • Jed Sampson
    May 15, 2014 - 16:05

    Concerned Citizens on the provinces west coast are not looking for a Danny Williams led internal review on hydraulic fracturing . They are demanding an external, public, independent review as stated by Mr. Hounsell in the article above.

  • lonewolf
    May 15, 2014 - 14:53

    And the stupidity continues. No wonder everyone laughs at us, too stupid to take a golden opportunity and turn it into work.

  • david
    May 15, 2014 - 12:07

    Perfect. Because heaven forbid we accept the reality that after analysing thousands of wells, NOT ONE example of fracking-induced groundwater contamination has been found --- EVER! --- by any legitimate authoritative body. An august panel of Newfoundlanders, completely undernourished in even basic scientific fact and logic, is going to contribute such wonderful perspectives. The rank-and-file Newfy is just an economy-denier. A worko-phobe.

    • roger
      May 16, 2014 - 07:00

      David you are the problem, show us your science and facts on water contamination. Here is 1 peer reviewed article for you and other deniers: "Methane detected at 17 times the rate in resident water wells within a kilometer of active hydrofracking sites."

  • Dennis Bruce
    May 15, 2014 - 11:53

    I agree, let's call the review and get on with it. The review should be evidence-based, not emotion-based.

    • terry
      May 16, 2014 - 10:03

      Go to any state in the U.S. Talk to the residents that lost homes to fracking, with little or no compensation.Talk to the people that can't drink their own water ,but , have to drink water transported in to their communities for that purpose. Talk to the people who are getting sick, very sick in the areas where fracking is present. The economic advantage to fracking is beneficial only to the very few and short-term at best. To the 99% of newfounflanders that have to live with the fallout and clean up the mess, there is no benefit. To the people who think a few, (very few),jobs and very little payback to the common people of Newfounfland, is more important than losing the water supply(no matter what volume) take your head out of the sand, pack up and move to Pennsylvania. Then you will experience what fracking is all about. Leave the island to the People who want to preserve it for their children and their children's children. To all other Newfoundlanders, get informed, get mad. Throw those companies and their collaborators off the island. Talk to ported in for that purpose.