Protesters gather outside the Nova Scotia legislature in Halifax to show their opposition to the use of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, on Friday, April 22, 2011. Fracking involves pumping water, chemicals and sand underground at high pressure in order to release gas.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
I would like to address the misleading assertion that unconventional natural gas and shale oil development will lead Atlantic Canada down a path of economic prosperity as claimed by Dr. Mike Milke from the Fraser Institute, published in an Op-Ed in the Guardian on Wednesday, October 30, 2013.
Job creation numbers touted by this industry are regularly inflated by industry-funded studies as many independent studies articulate. For example, an industry funded study entitled “Drilling for Jobs” stated that 48,000 jobs were created in Pennsylvania as direct result of Marcellus Shale development in 2010. An independent assessment of these numbers using the state’s Bureau of Labor information found less than 6,000 jobs in this industry were created from 2007 to 2010.
With this type of development, our roads will be trashed as thousands of trucks carrying heavy equipment will be needed to access well pads. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates that they need $1 billion on top of their annual budget to pay for road repairs from heavy truck traffic as a result of this industrial development in the Barnett Shale play. Texas will be converting 80 km. of paved roads to gravel because the repair costs are just too high.
The monitoring and enforcement of our air and water resources will be a cost that will fall to our provincial environment departments, along with the associated health costs a an array of troubling symptoms plague those who live next to well sites. In a recent study called “The Social Costs of Fracking” an increase in disorderly arrests and a 62 per cent increase in STI’s (chlamydia and gonorrhea) in rural communities are linked with unconventional resource development.
Not to mention the potential loss of tax revenue from tourism and agriculture declines if this industry is enabled to take root. Local governments could see revenue from property tax plummet along with property values, as family homes near well pads or spills of hazardous wastewater lose their economic value.
We want development, jobs, and prosperity here, but not at the expense of our health, environment, communities, or existing local economies for yet another limited fossil fuel resource. It is quickly becoming clear that we need our leaders to develop our region’s renewable energy sources.
According to Dr. Mark Jacobsen of Stanford University it is possible to power the world five to 10 times over with wind, water, and solar resources and we have ample supply within our grasp. We need political leaders who are ready to listen to the communities they represent and not the rhetoric bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry.
By Heidi Verheul
- Heidi Verheul is a community outreach co-ordinator for Sierra Club Canada, Atlantic Chapter, in Halifax
(Note: Verheul is hosting an information workshop on fracking today in Charlottetown. Titled ‘Strengthening Our Voice: Syncing Our Communities,‘ the workshop will be held 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in Room 207, Murphy’s Community Centre, Charlottetown. Delegates are encouraged to bring your digital devices to this four hour workshop designed to support community action. Topics will include tips on crafting key messages, tips on meeting with politicians, and making change happen through social media)