Anti-fracking group begins grassroots campaign in P.E.I.

Published on May 3, 2014

Members of “Don’t Frack P.E.I.”, from left, Mary Ann Ross, Diana Lariviere and Marie Burge are hoping to spread information about hydraulic fracturing for natural gas among Islanders over the next several months. The group held its first meeting in Charlottetown Saturday.

Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald

Leo Broderick knows it will take a groundswell of public support to get legislation passed banning hydraulic fracking in P.E.I.

That’s why he and a group of Islanders have organized themselves into teams to spread information about hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and the possible dangers the practice poses to P.E.I.’s groundwater.

Don’t Frack P.E.I. held its first session in Charlottetown on Saturday at the Voluntary Resource Centre.

Broderick, who directed the session with Marie Burge, said the group has begun the process of bringing information about fracking to the public.

“That way, if there is a great demand to get a ban on fracking in P.E.I., it will happen,” said Broderick.

Much of Saturday’s session provided participants with material to share with community groups and neighbours. There were also tips on getting individuals interested in the topic and how to lead a discussion about fracking.

The group said it plans to host community information events and training sessions across the province.

Brackley resident Mary Ann Ross said initial discussions will likely start among small groups, such as at kitchen table meetings and Farmer’s Markets.

From there, the group hopes that information will spread.

“It’s at the grassroots level,” said Ross. “Hopefully, fracking will be a term most people in P.E.I. will be very familiar with after these meetings.”

Broderick said while a legislative committee has recommended P.E.I. adopt a moratorium on fracking, it has yet to happen.

He said the group’s ultimate goal is to get a permanent ban on fracking put in place and pointed towards New Brunswick, where major protests have occurred because of the shale gas development.

“Promoters of fracking are saying it’s an economic boom for communities, that’s what they’re promoting it in New Brunswick and unless we’re very careful we’ll have government here doing the same thing,” he said.

Nearby provinces Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador all have enacted moratoriums on shale gas development .

Conventional fracking, which drills only vertically, has already occurred in P.E.I. in 2006 at a site in Cavendish.

Broderick said while that operation was different from hydraulic fracking, which drills vertically before spreading horizontally, it still caused what the group considered “a major spill.”

““We know what can happen… It (2006) was just exploratory but it ended up in contamination,” he said. “If we had that on a huge scale in Prince Edward Island, our groundwater would be destroyed.”