Nova Scotia to ban fracking

Nova Scotia is banning fracking. Onshore, but not offshore, and not pipelines. But at least the Nova Scotia government listened to environmentalists, the grassroots, and rural people about that much. Will our local and state governments listen about the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline?

Bruce Erskine wrote for The Herald Business 3 September 2014, Nova Scotia to ban fracking,

Energy Minister Andrew Younger announced Wednesday that the Liberal government plans to introduce legislation in the fall prohibiting hydraulic fracturing in shale oil and gas projects in the province.

In the video you can hear him say in a press conference:

“Nova Scotians have indicated that by a wide margin they are concerned about hydraulic fracturing and they do not want it as part of onshore development of shales in Nova Scotia at this time,

“Nova Scotians have put their trust in our government, that we will listen to the concerns and not allow a process that most Nova Scotians are just simply not comfortable with at this time.”

The Herald noted

to the loud applause of environmentalists in attendance.

In the video you can hear someone, apparently Jennifer West, Geoscience Coordinator, Ecology Action Center, thank him for saying:

“Well, the environmental community and the grassroots and the rural population of Nova Scotia really worked hard to make their voice heard about this issue. We’re really relieved that the government has heard the voices. We’re happy that he’s stated that he’s read all the letters. He’s had many conversations. He’s read the reports; he’s read the submissions. And he’s really taken heed that Nova Scotians are not ready for this industry at this time.”

Maybe local or state governments around here will listen to the concerns of the environmentalists and the grassroots and the rural population of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama and use their land-use zoning powers to stop the Sabal Trail pipeline.

Younger also said “this is neither a permanent nor a time-limited ban.”. And he said:

“People need to not have this threat hanging over their head that there might be hydraulic fracturing and they wouldn’t be involved. This way, people will know before it’s allowed — if it’s ever allowed — there will be a full debate in the Legislature.”

How about let’s get on with public debates in county commissions and state legislatures across the southeast about banning unnecessary natural gas pipelines?

And any ban on fracked methane pipelines around here could be permanent, since solar power is already cheaper, faster, safer (according to Sabal Trail’s own figures), and solar prices continue to go down, as they have for the past thirty years, while solar jobs continue to increase, and will for many years, unlike pipeline installation jobs, which are brief and mostly for crews from somewhere else. The Herald reports that the fossil fuel industry tried to play the jobs card, but remember a year ago there were already more jobs in solar power than in non-managerial oil and gas extraction.

Also, beware that NIMBY is not enough: Paul Withers wrote for CNBC News 3 September 2014, High-volume fracking to be banned in Nova Scotia,

He said it would not send out the message that Nova Scotia is closed for business. “We are very actively promoting our offshore development — that has very strong public support — and there’s a coal-bed methane project in Stellarton that has received excellent support.”

Which means we could see fracked methane from Nova Scotia through Sabal Trail, since Spectra’s pipeline network extends all the way up there.

Fortunately, there is opposition to that, too.

The Council of Canadians, which would prefer an outright ban on fracking, was also pleased with Younger’s announcement.

“Residents showed up to the public town hall meetings in huge numbers to show their opposition to fracking,” said Angela Giles, the council’s Atlantic regional organizer. “It’s great that governments are actually listening to people.”

Angela Giles also wrote on her blog 17 July 2014, ouncil of Canadians joins call for moratorium in Gulf of St. Lawrence,

The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with the Innu, Maliseet and Mi’gmag First Nations of Eastern Canada, who are calling for a 12-year moratorium on oil and gas development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and an integrated environmental assessment by an independent panel.

We share the concerns raised at the Innu-Malecite-Mi’gmaq Alliance for the Protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence media conference held on July 16, 2014 in K’jipuktuk (Halifax). The issues raised include the lack of consultation with First Nations, rights to the natural resources contained within the Gulf’s water and shores, and the inability to respond in an emergency spill situation. The possibility of a legal action exists if First Nations rights are not acknowledged, and we will support this in whatever way we can.

Speaking of whom, I first heard of this ban yesterday from the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative on their facebook page:

The Province has just announced that they are prohibiting Hydraulic Fracturing in NS! The Assembly, KMKNO and the Hydraulic Fracturing Committee have worked very hard in hopes that this would happen! Click below to read our press release.

The Mi’kmaq press release beings:

Chiefs Strongly Support Nova Scotia’s Decision on Hydraulic Fracturing

Earlier today, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs heard firsthand, from Minister Younger and his counterparts, the Province’s decision to prohibit shale hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia. The Assembly welcomes this announcement, as the Mi’kmaq have been strong advocates against any hydraulic fracturing activity in our traditional territory.

“We were clear that the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia are against all types of fracturing activity on our lands,” said Chief Paul Prosper. “The Province decision to prohibit hydraulic fracturing is exactly what we all wanted to hear.”

The Mi’kmaq didn’t just ask the Nova Scotia legislature to do something; they researched, lobbied, and drafted:

Last year the Assembly established their own Hydraulic Fracturing Committee, which is led by Chief Paul Prosper, Assembly Lead Chief of the Energy Portfolio, and made of up representatives from Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office; Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq; Union of Nova Scotia Indians and Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources. The role of this Committee was to conduct research and formulate a position for the Assembly on the concerns the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia have with respect to hydraulic fracturing.

And the Mi’kmaqs were not just NIMBY. They were concerned also for their neighbors, and for the environment beyond their local community:

Chief Terrance Paul, Co-Chair of the Assembly stated, “We were extremely concerned with what was happening in New Brunswick. So, hearing Nova Scotia’s decision today is certainly welcomed news.”

“Today both the Mi’kmaq and Provincial governments came eye to eye on a major decision,” continued Chief Prosper. “Our priority has always been to protect the health of our community members and the environment. We are happy that, with today’s decision, the Province has clearly made this their main objective too.”

The Mi’kmaq already blockaded fracking operations in New Brunswick so successfully that Houston-based fracking company SWN abandoned fracking there for at least a year from December 2013. This despite, as Angela Hennesy reported for VICE 18 October 2013, THE RCMP AMBUSHED A PEACEFUL MI’KMAQ ANTI-FRACKING PROTEST. The Mi’kmaq feather of protest won over the might of the Mounties in the end.

Maybe there will be reason to thank local and state legislatures in the southeast soon for stopping that Sabal Trail pipeline. More on why many more local governments in Georgia should care than maybe previously thought they should.


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