People not convinced by argument for fracking: NDP

Frank
Frank Gale
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Jonathan Stewart liked the message MHA George Murphy brought to an anti-fracking event in Stephenville.

Jonathan Stewart, who attended an anti-fracking meeting in the United Church Hall in Stephenville Saturday, signs petitions opposing fracking.

He especially liked the fact that the NDP environment and conservation critic talked about how Lone Pine Resources Inc., a U.S. fracking company registered in Delaware, which wanted to frack for gas under the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, has threatened to sue Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because of Quebec’s moratorium on fracking.

He said the company is saying this moratorium is violating the oil company’s right to frack and it’s demanding $250 million in compensation.

In October of 2013, groups such as the Council of Canadians, the Sierra Club, For Love of Water (FLOW), Eau Secours!, and AmiEs de la Terre were gathering signatures for a letter to Lone Pine urging the company to drop plans to sue Canada.

It was at that time the groups discovered that Lone Pine had quietly filed a request for arbitration indicating the company was moving forward with the NAFTA lawsuit.

Mr. Murphy said Saturday the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union (EU) and Canada would grant energy companies far-reaching rights to challenge bans and regulations of shale gas development, such as fracking.

“I think Mr. Murphy is showing great concern about hydraulic fracturing and I’m glad he brought to everyone’s attention these facts about NAFTA and CETA and how, through them, the rights of the corporation are protected rather than the rights of the people who live here,” said Kathy Marche, a resident of Kippens and a member of the Port au Port/Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Group.

Mr. Stewart, one of nearly 70 who attended the event, entitled People’s Frackdown 2, said it was nice to see Mr. Murphy explain the issues with NAFTA and CETA because he strongly opposes this proposed hydraulic fracturing process.

Mr. Stewart said people in the area should be careful of who they vote for during the next provincial election to deal with this fracking issue.

“We need someone who is going to be trustworthy and have our best interest at heart,” he said. “We need less secrecy from our elected officials and a matter as serious as fracking should be able to be voted on by the people.”

Mr. Stewart said, as a worker in Alberta who gets out to oil sites, he doesn’t trust a thing that oil companies say.

“For them it’s anything for profit with little care about the environment.”

Mr. Murphy, the NDP MHA for St. John’s East, has been active in the political fight that resulted in the province implementing a moratorium on fracking in November.

He said his role is to give people a voice in the House of Assembly and make sure they can put a face to the issue.

In early November of 2013 Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley declared a moratorium on fracking in the province. He announced government will not approve fracking onshore and onshore-to-offshore hydraulic fracturing pending further review and government would be doing public consultation before it develops any policy for fracking.

Mr. Murphy said even though the moratorium is on, there is a lot of distraction with the Tory leadership, so the NDP hopes to make sure the issue stays at the forefront.

“We want to make sure that if government is going to have that review, that it’s going to be an independent review so government can keep their hands off it,” Mr. Murphy said.

“Also, to make sure it’s totally scientific,” he added.

Mr. Murphy said the NDP would like to see a strengthening of environmental regulations and a full disclosure of chemicals used in fracking.

“If it’s going to be an unsafe process here, particularly when it comes from a worker’s point of view, along with health and the protection of water, then it can’t be allowed to happen,” he said.

Mr. Murphy said if people in the province begin hearing of the quality of water being compromised, it’s certainly a good basis to not do fracking at all.

“There are a number of views here, but the biggest view is that (the government) has not convinced us yet of a valid argument for fracking,” he said.

Organizations: NDP MHA, NAFTA, Lone Pine Resources European Union Sierra Club Tory

Geographic location: Canada, Quebec, Lone Pine U.S. St. Lawrence River Kippens Port au Port Alberta

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