The west coast needs safe oil and gas development

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­Dear Editor: I have been drafting a letter in my head for months as I felt the other side needs to be heard.

There is so much talk from the anti-fracking side and the politicians have bowed to it with another review that delays development, yet no one will be happy with the results.

So here it goes: I, Trina Burden, am for oil and gas development in western Newfoundland. The science and monitoring systems are already present to ensure it is done safely. Let us not delay.  

As a resident, I want to see the boom that has benefitted St. John’s and the whole Avalon Peninsula. Why must we be the poor cousins, yet with beautiful scenery and better weather?

Why can’t we also have prosperity? Prosperity that does not just mean for businesses and certain people with high-paying jobs, but includes the investment governments can make in infrastructure and services and even the oil company’s contribution to local charities and groups.

This level of prosperity benefits all residents and the community in general.  

As a mother and aunt, I want my young children, nieces and nephew to reap the benefits of economic prosperity in recreation facilities and state-of-the art-education.

As a daughter, I want my parents to have the benefits of a hospital and health-care system that have all the latest technologies and treatments locally delivered.

As a resident who loves camping, hiking, skiing, biking, music and theatre, I am confident that oil and gas development will only help develop more trails and recreation opportunities in the great outdoors, and the arts scene will further flourish.

For those of you who think we can prosper without oil and gas development, I have worked in economic development and I have some sad news — big manufacturing companies are not coming to set up shop in Corner Brook, where we have no competitive advantage.

Tourism is not going to save us. Corner Brook is only surviving as a service centre from the oil and gas salaries of Alberta.

We need to work with our natural resources as we have done in the past with the fishery and forestry.

Now it is time for the rocks to provide for us.

I urge other residents who want for the best for the future of western Newfoundland to stand up and say it.

Town councils and groups, speak up, as I and others have not heard you.

The message to the provincial government: We want and need oil and gas development; please help us get there safely.

Trina Burden, Corner Brook

Organizations: Dear Editor

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Corner Brook, Alberta

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Recent comments

  • Gerard
    August 30, 2014 - 09:56

    What is the distance from Banff National Park to Fort McMurray Oilsands? How far is the east coast trail from Hibernia? Get real Kay! Excellent information Kathy, and accurate.

  • Kay
    August 29, 2014 - 13:58

    Two is the worlds most environmentally beautiful & environmentally exconomical co-exist and thrive, namely Banff National Park & the Fort McMurray Oilsands. This could be the case here in Western NL. Perhaps the beautiful east coast trail of eastern NL contrasted with the vibrant oil & gas industry of the same region would be another grand example. Come on naysayers, strike a balance for all sides!!

  • Kathy
    August 29, 2014 - 10:25

    Trina, you proclaim a pro-fracking status without having done any research on this controversial technique, relying solely on your faith and belief that the oil companies involved, in this case, BSE , will be responsible and follow strict rules for safely. Have you not read our former Environment Commissioner, Scott Vaughan's scathing report on fracking? Have you not been following Dr. Wheeler's report on fracking in Nova Scotia, how the final report recommends it should not proceed there at the present time? Are you not aware that New York's highest court just recently upheld the rights of towns to ban fracking? These public statements and decisions are not made because fracking has been proven safe. You question the delay. Have you not heard of the precautionary principle where the wisest thing to do is take the time to prove something is safe and well regulated before steam-rolling ahead without the proper safeguards in place. The science and monitoring systems that you feel so confident are in place to ensure safety are what the oil & gas developers would like all of us to blindly believe. You "want" a lot from this potential controversial development. You want your children to reap the benefits in recreation facilities. Wouldn't you be as concerned about their need for healthy clean air to breathe, clean, potable water to drink, and a clean healthy environment to live in? You want your parents to have access to a local healthcare system with all the latest technology. Wouldn't keeping our air, land and water safe and secure be as important as a preventative measure against increased problems due to air and water pollution created in the fracking process? You really should check out "Alberta Voices" to find out how some people (who initially supported fracking) living near fracking operations are being affected. "200,000 wells and not one leaking" is what CAPP would like everyone to believe. It's a far cry from the truth. Have you not been paying attention to the wastewater problem in Nova Scotia? They still have holding ponds of frack wastewater that they still don't know how to dispose of since 2007. And they'd like to send it from Debert, NS to Dieppe, NB to deal with. And that was only from exploratory drilling. Is this what you're in such a rush to have here on our west coast? Here on the west coast this year, we have experienced one of the driest summers on record. There is a serious situation with water shortages in communities. Port au Port has a water ban in place. One community in Flat Bay has completely lost its water. Water conservation is critical. Our west coast communities NEED to preserve and conserve our water resources. Do you have any idea how much water is used in fracking operations, water we can not afford to lose.? You really NEED to do some research. You love the great outdoors, yet you have confidence that oil and gas development will develop more trails and recreational opportunities in the great outdoors. CAPP would love reading your letter of such unbelievably naive support. Our west coast has some of the most amazing trail systems anywhere. It's because of the wildly beautiful pristine and breath-taking scenery, landscapes and coastlines we are so blessed with. The Gravels hiking trail on the Port au Port peninsula, the Southhead Lighthouse trail, the Little Port Head trail, Copper Mine trail, Bottle Cove trail in the beautiful Bay of Islands, all of these are in the vicinity of where potential fracking is to occur. There will not be development of new trails... sadly, with all the work, time and cost put into making them, the trails we are so blessed with today will be irrevocably changed forever. Anyone who loves and enjoys the pristine beauty of our great outdoors is not going to want these valuable natural ,wild spaces filled with well pads and marred by oil and gas industrialization. Rather than have new outdoor recreational opportunity, we will lose what we already have. Tourism will not save us , but don't forget how much it contributes to our provincal economy ...and it's sustainable. It may not save us but it won't destroy us either. You think it's time for the "rock" to support us.. well.. right now our beloved Rock is supporting us, it supplies us with some of our most basic requirements for life. Isn't that why you have chosen to live here? I know that's why I've never wanted to leave, why I never did. Having a good life doesn't mean everyone NEEDS to be prosperous. Many WANT to be.. but it doesn't mean we 'need' to be. Sustainablity is what we must strive for. I too, am a mother. I, too, love the great Newfoundland outdoors. I value clean air, clean water and a healthy environment and the quality of life that Newfoundland offers.You simply can't put a price tag on these basic human rights. You urge residents who want the best for the future of Newfoundland to stand up and say it. ... you've already heard from us.

  • Joe Wiseman
    August 28, 2014 - 12:27

    Paul - sadly, it's no script for a Hollywood movie. It's more real than you think. You and Trina need to spend some time at the library reading independent literature. Try "The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman. Our species is doing far more damage to the planet and far more quickly than any Ice Age. Homo Sapien means "Smart ape." I fear we should have named ourselves "clever ape" for we do not appear to be very smart.

  • Joe Wiseman
    August 28, 2014 - 10:40

    Paul - sadly, it's no script for a Hollywood movie. It's more real than you think. You and Trina need to spend some time at the library reading independent literature. Try "The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman. Our species is doing far more damage to the planet and far more quickly than any Ice Age. Homo Sapien means "Smart ape." I fear we should have named ourselves "clever ape" for we do not appear to be very smart.

  • Charles Murphy
    August 28, 2014 - 06:00

    Paul, Every person, should have the right to provide for their family, Not though the expense of losing your health over a few dollars, Has for fear, mongering, if that the label , you feel necessary to put on the truth, that your choice. Paul, we just don't need fracking, all we really need is for someone to bring us to the next step. Like I keep saying , were shipping in close to " Billion " dollars of products per year, that can be manufactured right here at home, putting some 30.000 people to work.

  • Sylvain Archambault
    August 27, 2014 - 22:00

    I have a very simple question... How many wells has the junior company known as Black Spruce Exploration (BSE) actually drilled and fracked in the past? The answer is that, as a corporate entity, they have never drilled nor fracked a single well. None! I can understand why the local citizens are a little worried!

    • Kay
      August 29, 2014 - 12:37

      And you sir have not investigated the very experienced senior management of this company to have come together to form what is Black Spruce.

  • Katherine
    August 27, 2014 - 18:36

    Trina, I wish I could suggest that you walk a mile in my shoes, but I can't. I wouldn't want anyone to have to worry about the things we are fighting against. We are living several hundred feet from the beautiful Port-Au-Port Bay. I love my children and grandchildren too and cannot imagine the beach that their grandfather and great grandfather played on, being denied to them. I am sure this would be the case as a drill pad is proposed in the oil company's proposal, and of course that would mean a "fenced" off area surrounding a drill pad. I cannot imagine them being subjected to the fumes and smoke from the flare stack that would accompany the drill pad and I guess that would also mean the end of our using a clothesline. No more swimming, no more clam digging, no more sand castles, no more running on the sandy beach! What kind of legacy is that to leave our children?

    • Kay
      August 29, 2014 - 12:34

      The children you speak of won't be anywhere near this beach you speak of in years to come. They'll be elsewhere, in another region, province or country, working......

  • Marion
    August 27, 2014 - 15:35

    Paul, fracking is deep, very deep. And no one knows the end of the mystery movie, no one. lol. Only the sober truth will bring a sane solution. Bring on the sanity!

  • Marion
    August 27, 2014 - 14:59

    Trina, your statement "The science and monitoring systems are already present to ensure it is done safely" must be supported with facts before you add your name to the list of people who care little about what fracking is or does to our environment. The Avalon Peninsula is not being fracked, nor is Corner Brook. Hibernia is not on anyone's doorstep. We poor cousins on the Port au Port and Northern Peninsulas know the cost is too high. Did you know that onshore to offshore high pressure slickwater hydraulic fracturing has not been done before? So from where do you get your assurance - from a junior company CEO who tells the public that an oil truck full of fuel is 20 times more toxic than any type of hydraulic fracturing fluid? And remember that the toxic soup of chemicals called fracking fluid is a secret recipe that will meet with methane and radon and others beneath the earth and return even more dangerous to us who live above it. How many local jobs will each fracked job provide? A few security jobs, a few waste disposal jobs, a few grants here and there in lieu of taxes, the rest of the labor will be imported. This level of "prosperity" you mentioned benefits very few for a short time while the beauty is being fracked out of the west coast. I too read the articles Mr. Oliver referred to and they are factual. The article from Albany, N.Y. by Barton Schoenfeld, a cardiologist, August 2, 2014, represents a group of concerned health professionals of New York regarding scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating the risks and harms of fracking, based on hundreds of studies nationwide where fracking already exists. Read it online at ConcernedHealthNY.org/Compendium. I encourage you and others to wipe the dollar signs from your eyes and do more study while you can still see and breathe our beauty and air. The government will not ensure anything is done safely except on paper; the industry is self-regulated once the gate is secured.

  • Ken Kavanagh
    August 27, 2014 - 14:36

    Trina, I have no difficulty you taking a position, publicly, of pro-fracking but you need to speak the truth. To say that we have the science and monitoring systems to ensure we do fracking safely. That is blatantly false and you look to have drunk the cool-aid of the oil and gas industry. The whole mining sector always claims that that there processes and procedures are safe. Trina, what happened to the science and monitoring systems in the Mount Polley tailings breach on this August 4 in BC. That breach sent millions of cubic meters of toxic waste in extensive central BC waterways. The words of assurance by the industry and the company are pretty hollow to the people in the area of the spill. Not only is the science incomplete and the monitoring systems inadequate but do not have a proper regulatory regime in this province for fracking. And until we do have all the facts and science on fracking and a proper regulatory regime, the 'precautionary' principle should apply and fracking should not proceed. I don't want to trade of the health and well-being of people and the environment for a few dollars. Ken Kavanagh Bell Island

  • E.Gallant
    August 27, 2014 - 13:41

    I grew up in Germany and have the fortune to live here for more than twenty years. In Germany it was not oil and fracking, but it was coal and coal mines.Yes, it brought thousands of jobs and some prosperity. Yes,the hospitals got upgraded , but they now house all the people sick because of the coal mines. The coal mines are closed and now we got tens of thousands of people living in cities which can't keep up the infrastructures because of the reduced taxes for towns and lot of unemployment. Coal and oil are limited resources. You take it out of the ground, you got x numbers of years prosperity, after that are forever only the negative effects left. We need a plan that will create jobs now AND in the future, like manufacturing and innovations.

  • Donna Shears
    August 27, 2014 - 13:27

    I have sad news for Ms. Burden. Neither forestry nor the fishing industry are doing that great in Newfoundland. Now she'd like to see the oil and gas industry create a mess on the west coast. Funny how greed and the "I-gotta-haves" are at the forefront of any development. Any royalties earned won't be going to Corner Brook and the West Coast; they'll be filling the coffers of the government in St. John's. And the oil and gas industry won't be supplying great job opportunities for the locals either. Perhaps Ms. Burden should stop wanting so much and start doing something constructive like reading what other people have to say about what's happened since fracking moved into their areas. I don't think she'll want the noise and mess on her doorstep, but she seems to think it's fine if the rest of us have it.

  • Joe Wiseman
    August 27, 2014 - 12:46

    The Ostrich As a species I sometimes wonder if we most resemble the ostrich. If we duck our heads, ignore the problem for long enough, it will just, maybe, hopefully, please, go away. Or perhaps our approach is more like Bill Clinton's solution to gays in the military - don't ask, don't tell! After all, if nobody talks about it, it isn't there, is it? My brother-in-law, a house painter and his friend, who is working in the Alberta oil patch sum it up this way: "it's been about 150 years since the Industrial Revolution and we've done this much damage to the environment. We might get another 100 years out of it all." At a church luncheon, a fellow parishioner relates to me his experience of reading about the poisoning of the St Clare River at Sarnia. "I was there the night the company put that stuff in the ground and supposedly sealed it off." There was pain in his eyes and no doubt, in his heart and in his soul. I stated that it was amazing how many people I speak with, ordinary people, blue collar workers, who understand that we are gradually destroying the planet. He casually observed, "there will be a revolution." It's hardly unlikely that for some inexplicable reason, I am the only guy who has these conversations. It is more likely that most of us see the truth for what it is. We are gradually, speeding up, speeding up, speeding up, destroying the very planet that gives us life. Suicide or madness? Take your pick, I can't figure it out. I wonder who our political leaders talk to? Do they have these conversations or are they shielded for their own protection? They don't appear to be losing much sleep about it all as the oil companies drill away, as the auto manufacturers continue to turn out the gas combustion engine, as poisons are released into our rivers, lakes, oceans, landfills - anywhere the millions upon millions of barrels of poisonous waste can be hidden for awhile. Long enough, they hope, to finish making the money, packing up and leaving the deadly stuff behind. Perhaps, like Chernoble, the animals will have another paradise, free of humans, in a future that may be as inevitable as the prediction of my house painter friend - a hundred years or so. Is it possible to change a future that is rushing towards us virtually unhindered except for sporadic demonstrations and vocal minorities who are often perceived as "radical", "inhibiting progress", "tree-huggers", "terrorists", "trouble - makers", etc? Most days are like today - I simply have no idea whether we have the rational or empathetic ability to slow down, stop and possibly reverse the race to the "end of the human race." Joe Wiseman Citizen

    • Paul
      August 27, 2014 - 14:51

      Joe this could be the script for a Hollywood movie. Very deep..... Lol

  • Graham Oliver
    August 27, 2014 - 06:45

    So the cheerleaders pushing the economic benefits of fracking are annoyed at "anti-frackers" getting in the way of their dream to enlist a junior oil company (Black Spruce Exploration) to come in to experiment with the Green Point Shale formation. Are you aware that BSE is a brand new company, and to my knowledge, has never drilled an oil well. Please do some research and let me know what you come up with. And I wonder about the origins of Trina's research into the science and monitoring of the fracking industry. Hopefully she is not swallowing the CAPP line "200,000 wells not one problem". Trina and Dennis should check Scott Vaughn's Report on fracking commissioned by the federal Minister of Envir., Tom Kent. Unfortunately, it was shelved by the Harper Gov. Because Mr. Vaughn did not tell him what he wanted to hear. It would also be noteworthy to check out what Dr. Wheeler has to say in his Nova Scotia Report on fracking. Check some of the reports from the medical association in New York who have a great deal to say about the health effects of fracking and then top off your research with a healthy dose of Tony Ingraffea, professor emeritus out of Cornell. He was in on the ground floor of fracking and worked for the oil companies. He is now one of its biggest critics. We all want economic development. But we should not even consider going down the fracking road. As George Landon, former CEO and president of Shoal Point Energy so aptly put it when he spoke of the Green Point Shale: "It's a wild frontier out there". Mr. Langdon was no doubt referring to the fact that the shale is a transported shale, that is already vaulted and severely fractured. It may be a catastrophe just waiting for a junior oil company , like BSE, to come in and experiment with it. My question: and where will Black Spruce be, if and when, something goes horribly wrong at Shoal Point, Bottle Cove, Blue Beach, Fox Island River? I suggest Trina and Mr. Bruce spend some quality time researching GOOD science on the brute force method of oil extraction known as high pressure slickwater hydro-fracking. It is not a pretty process and your economic development that you lust for might very well be relegated to a clean up operation. Ignorance is bliss!

    • John Q
      August 27, 2014 - 08:56

      All this information and fracking still continues around the globe. Makes you wonder who is ignorant....

  • Charles Murphy
    August 27, 2014 - 05:32

    Kay, Were shipping in just little over twenty million dollars in paper products per year, wouldn't you agree those items can be produce at the corner brook paper mill ? creating more jobs in the plant also in the forestry? List go on,

  • Charles Murphy
    August 27, 2014 - 05:04

    Kay, I will be " Quite " happy to answer that question for you. Some twenty years ago , I found myself out of work. But I didn't want to leave Newfoundland. So I decides to start my own business, Some twenty year later, my products are sold across N & L , also into the mainland. Would you like to see the P.O for proof, More then happy to show you. Thing is Kay, I know we can do it, But all we need is Leadership.

  • Dennis Bruce
    August 26, 2014 - 22:08

    Great letter and provides a realistic and informed perspective on economic development opportunities, or lack thereof, on the west coast. This context is quite important to this particular discussion.

  • Charles Murphy
    August 26, 2014 - 17:25

    Sad to see, people's are willing to sell their health for few dollars and couple of jobs. Has for big manufacturing company coming here, who care, where is its written, we couldn't set up our own manufacturing plants, after all we are shipping in close to " Billion " dollars of products per year, that can be manufactured right here, creating jobs for some 30.000 people's. Trina, question, would you stand by, and let some person , pop the window out of your home? If your answer is " NO ", So why are you asking us to " Destroy our Environment ". Hospital - Education we needs, but at what price, that the question. Trina please take the time, and research fracking for yourself.

    • Kay
      August 26, 2014 - 21:39

      Charles, have YOU taken any steps to implement the manufacturing plants & jobs? Detailed answers please....

    • Paul
      August 27, 2014 - 08:46

      CHARLES. You are trying to diminish this topic by fear mongering. I have watched Corner Brook my entire life struggle with economic prosperity only to fall further behind. The environment is also important to me as well but I do not share your opinion that the environment will be diminished as a certainty as in your comments. You represent a biased comment and I doubt you respect other contrary comments to your own. Fracking is coming and you need to deal with it... The West coast of this island have a golden opportunity to embrace this possible economic activity. BRING ON THE Fracking. I want to work and provide for my family...

  • Justin Whittle
    August 26, 2014 - 11:10

    Natural resource activity plays a crucial role in the economy. I join with Trina in supporting this movement.

  • Henry
    August 26, 2014 - 09:52

    I totally agree Trina. Our time has come and it would be sad to lose our chance at real prosperity because of certain anti fracking persons. I am for fracking utilizing stringent regulations and the best science available. Fracking is done around the world real with success and we can do it too.

    • Sylvain Archambault
      August 27, 2014 - 12:54

      I have a very simple question... How many wells has the junior company known as Black Spruce Exploration (BSE) actually drilled and fracked in the past? The answer is that, as a corporate entity, they have never drilled nor fracked a single well. None! I can understand why the local citizens are a little worried!