Dear Editor: In response to a recent letter published regarding “Oil and gas opportunities abound” written by Sharon McLennon, I would like to engage in a more detailed commentary.
This letter would not be needed if I did not get the sense that Ms. McLennon (and by association) the group she represents support the idea of hydraulic fracturing.
If my interpretation is not correct, I apologize and no further discussion is required at this time. However, if the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade supports the idea of hydraulic fracturing I contend this is a short-sighted and potentially dangerous assessment. I have nothing against development as long as it is a conscientiously achieved objective, encompassing all aspects of the greater socio-economic it impacts upon.
My first objection regarding any heavy development concerns the three World Heritage sites on the west coast and southern Labrador, as well as the natural beauty of the region. These sites and the region in general are economic drivers which must be protected at any cost. I would argue — absolutely no heavy industrial development in region.
After all, there remains damage done by the pulp and paper industry on the landscape of western Newfoundland, and this is a ‘renewable’ resource.
It does not take a geo-scientist to determine the long-term effects a heavy industry such as oil and gas infrastructure would do to the natural setting. Simply ask the people of western Pennsylvania or Texas what impact hydraulic fracturing has had on their environment.
The visual alone is enough to halt any further discussion, but the uncertain impacts of pushing a chemical cocktail into the ground to extract another chemical is absurd.
Are we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians sick of selling our souls for so-called economic wealth? Development is not singularly economic, nor is it the simple measurement from which we determine progress. Ideally development should be sustainable with benefits for all involved, not merely tax and royalty benefits along with a wage for some individuals.
There should be a measure of long-term sustainable strength for lasting positive socio-economic benefit.
Once any element extracted from the ground there is a lasting geological, health, environmental and economic impact in both the short and long term. Some of these impacts may appear positive; however just recall the mines of St. Lawrence, Buchan’s, Bell Island and Baie Verte to comprehend how fast the positivity surrounding ‘economic’ development laid waste to their geography and their community cultures.
A decision will have to be made regarding the oil and gas industry on the west coast. Personally, I am not against economic development (when done responsibly). However, if up to me I would say absolutely ‘no’ to any heavy development on the west coast. We live in an era when natural beauty is at a premium.
Western Newfoundland is arguably one of the most beautiful regions on the earth. Why would anyone have any interest in threatening this status quo? I would not want to be the one who looks back with hindsight questioning what we did to the environment. Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade better think long term with due care before supporting any heavy industry.
Nick Pretty, Portugal Cove-St. Phillips