Submission to Govt of Canada on their proposals for renewing environmental legislation and regulations

mirror

Comments on:

  • Environmental Assessment & Regulatory Review Discussion Document
    (released by Environment & Climate Change Canada to public June 29, 2017)
  • Part 2: Let’s Talk Fish Habitat (released by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to
    public July 24, 2017)
  • Update on Navigation Protection Act Review (Transport Canada sent public
    notification of these four discussion papers August 16, 2017)
  • National Energy Board Modernization Review (we are not aware if Natural
    Resources Canada has released an update on its Expert Panel report of May 15,
    2017, which we have also reviewed)

Addressed to:

  • The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport — mintc@tc.gc.ca
  • The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Canada —
    min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
  • The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate
    Change   ec.ministre-minister.ec@canada.ca
  • The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources Canada —
    minister@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca

1. Introduction

I write on behalf of Kent County NB chapter of the Council of Canadians. People in our chapter, and in our approximately 70 sister Council of Canadians chapters across the country, work in our local communities on:

  • advocating for climate protection policies;
  • raising awareness that climate issues are anthropogenic so humans must change;
  • a large number of environmental issues to do with the oil and gas industry;
  • protecting the health of our watersheds, our forested areas, and the wellbeing and habitats of marine animals;
  • and much more.

We are also engaged in national Council of Canadians work around our major
campaigns, including:

  • protection of fresh water;
  • increasing government democracy, accountability, and transparency; and,
  • promotion of environmental protections in international trade agreements as well as domestic decision-making.

From the above description, it is evident why we have an avid interest in federal
government environmental protection policy, programmes, and legislation.
For a volunteer group like ours, it has been a marathon to prepare for writing this –
especially during the summer. We are all volunteers and this is a complicated matter. As
grassroots people living in rural and low-income communities, we are very motivated.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are certain to be most affected by gaps and mistakes in environmental approval
processes. We did a lot of reading and reviewing including:

  • community and Indigenous submissions, panel recommendations and government
    responses to recent consultations about The Fisheries Act and The Navigation
    Protection Act (including materials released as recently as August 16 th , which also
    have the consultation submission deadline of August 28th);
  • the “Forward, Together” report by the NEB Modernization Review Panel (NEB
    Panel) and the “Building Common Ground” report by the Multi-Interest Advisory
    Committee on Environmental Assessment (MIAC), and,
  • what was learned when two Council of Canadians representatives engaged in
    consultations regarding Canada’s Oceans policies, arising from Canada’s
    participation in the United Nations’ June 2017 Oceans Conference.

Then we read your government’s Environmental and Regulatory Reviews
Discussion Paper (ERRDP). We find significant holes in the ERRDP argument,
rationale and design.

2. Rebuilding Trust: Review Process Issues

Your government made a pre-election promise to strengthen the federal government’s
environmental protection mechanisms, working in an open and transparent manner… At the very top of the ERRDP document, you emphasize the need to rebuild trust with
Canadians. Like us, most Canadians think and feel that getting better environmental
protection regulations and processes enshrined in federal law is very important. This is
certainly one of the reasons your government was elected with a majority in 2015.

Those of us who participated in the panel review consultations can see that the two
excellent reports – from the NEB Panel and the MIAC Panel – have made superior
recommendations to those contained in the ERRDP, even though we do not agree in
entirety with these two Panels. On the other hand, we see that the vision outlined in the
ERRDP is attractive but it lacks solidity. Omissions can give the impression that not all is
not as it appears, or that excellent ideas could have been perhaps intentionally dropped at the political level. We notice measures that would help the environment are not in there. These are elaborated more in Sections 3 and 4.

We are troubled that, in the past month, further “discussion” materials have been published by your government asking for public input on changes to the Navigation Protection Act (NPA) and the Fisheries Act (FA). The most recent was on August 16 th and the deadline for comments is August 28 th as per the ERRDP.

Your engagement planning for this entire review process has been challenging. The NPA,
the FA, and the NEB Act all feed into the federal Environment Assessment (or Impact
Assessment) process. This relationship is legislated. Each of these acts (and more, some
of which are also in flux) can trigger a federal assessment of environmental impacts.
Copious amounts of overlapping information were published online, but because it was
presented in a dis-synchronous manner it has been very hard to track the details.

Discussions on proposals for all the “feeder acts” really should have been consecutive not
concurrent. Our group made this recommendation in a submission to your government last Fall. If community organizations and other interested parties had a valid sense of where your government was going with changes to all the “feeder acts,” we would be better prepared to comment on your visionary report about proposed environmental or impact processes.

A contributing factor is that each federal department has undertaken the various
consultation processes within its own silo of departmental mandate apparently without full consideration of where the others were headed. In sum, consultations would have been more productive – and more democratic, accountable, and transparent – if the legislated flow of authority had been respected in the review process.

To add to our stress, the current “last stage” review and consultation is being done now in the summer, when pretty much everyone in Canada wants to have some down time as our summers are short. We understand about the urgency of revising this legislation.
Concerned community organizations such as ours have been treading water furiously to
try to stay on top of the overlapping processes, read all the materials, and get
submissions, comments or presentations in on time.

We have not seen much federal call-out or promotion for engagement in responding to the ERRDP. That fact, combined with the many challenges mentioned above lead us to recommend you extend the deadline for comments, and after Labour Day re-
advertise widely an extension of time for community response, with a minimum of
six weeks for the new deadline. Please take time to really listen to (or hear) and act on
what we and other commentators are saying. To make this process meaningful and helpful for coming generations, the holders of local knowledges and experiences must be
welcomed into the decision-making fold. The NEB Panel report makes this point
repeatedly when talking about both general stakeholder and also Indigenous community
relations.

3. The Devil is in the Details

It is impossible to enforce anything if the standards are vague. The NEB Panel report
provides many details on how to move forward. It calls for specificity in regulations: set out what is allowed and what is not. “The review proposal is a comprehensive work and
government should not take a piecemeal approach to implementation” reminds the NEB
Panel.

In our local chapter work we are dealing with “details” all the time. A member of one of our chapters attended the MIAC Panel’s public consultation session in Fredericton NB. She said the panel committee was attentive, and she felt public opinions and comments had been heard. After reading their Common Ground (CG) report, she commented, “It is not perfect, but it looks good. Still, the devil is in the details.” After reading the ERRDP report, we can see that many of the MIAC Panel’s recommendations have been diminished.

3.a  Points in the ERRDP:
In no instance should the proponent be in charge of any aspect of the environmental assessment or compliance processes:

▪ in the initial stage: consultation processes led by industry; industry must be
present and partnered but it is government’s job to do consultation

during scientific study and reviews: (1) no preparation of Impact or
Environmental Assessment reports and analyses by consultants hired by the
proponent; (2) consideration could be given to establishing a list of approved
“independent, third party” consultants from which proponents could select; to be transparent, and trustworthy, this must be done through a public RFP call, perhaps with assistance from the Auditor General, and where that criteria and decision-making is developed and finalized through public input and open to ongoing public scrutiny

after development: no self-regulation/monitoring by industry (proponent) – it
is in the public interest to have government inspect and enforce compliance

3.b  General points re: rebuilding federal environmental policies and regulations:

▪ During the 10 years of the Harper Conservative government, we lost science data, scientists, regulations, policies, funding, departmental branches and systems, and personnel. We do not find a thoughtful funding design to replace this capacity. Could the Auditor General be asked to assist with making proposals for this, on an urgent basis?

▪ During the 10 years of the Harper Conservative government, we did not only lose technical and regulatory capacity, we also lost our reputation as a nation. We want the final legislation you produce to show the global community we are a nation that practices and promotes democracy, human rights, government account-ability and transparency, and genuine environmental stewardship.

3.c  Points regarding the NEB review report and NEB Act, as they feed into the
Environmental Assessment/Impact implementation process:

▪ Your government is aware that we are deeply concerned about the December 16, 2013 MOU that gave the NEB authority to judge environmental impacts of fisheries within projects they are reviewing (see #1 below). We have repeatedly asked about this in com-munications to Minister LeBlanc and Prime Minister Trudeau, although no response has yet been received. We expect that this and all other similar MOUs, policies, and informal agreements will be rescinded immediately.

We support creation of a Ombudsman of Landowners, as suggested in
the NEB Panel report.

▪ It is noteworthy and encouraging that – just this week – the NEB announced it will consider upstream and downstream GHG emissions during the renewed review of the Energy East Pipeline (EE). Thus, in essence, the NEB will be evaluating EE with respect to a range of national interests or priorities, which is the first step identified in the ERRDP “IA” process diagram. In the absence of these new regulations and policies, which are still being discussed, it is great news to learn that climate change and environmental hazards will be front and centre – along with economic and energy issues – as NEB evaluates EE. However, there has been a “pro” and “con” debate about this recent decision.

It is vitally important that the determinants of the “National Interest” are discussed in a transparent and inclusive process. To ensure rebuilding public trust, the consultation defining the “national interest” must be really broad and in-depth on both items and ranking. As diverse parties and commun-ities bring a broad range of perspectives to the table to develop a truly common agenda on where we all want Canada to go, this should break down some of the silo-ism that exists both between and in departments and non-government sectors. The ERRDP does not identify establishing this consultation process or structure. Fulsome consultation will be essential for realizing goals of inclusiveness, accountability, transparency, and bringing science back into the middle of everything. Similar structural accommoda-tion is needed for bringing traditional Indigenous knowledge-holders to the table before proposals gain development momentum.

How will provinces’ “environmental” or “impact” assessment processes be brought into synchronization with the new federal system? This is a huge and central issue that must be addressed. The ERRDP vision is only concerned with proposals that fall under federal mandate. A double “duty” or “jeopardy” situation will continue to impact proposals that have aspects requiring both federal and provincial oversight. It is not a level playing field: proponents generally have adequate funding and are motivated by increasing their profits, while environ-mentalists, Indigenous Peoples, and communities often do this work as volunteers for the common good. Yet, both will continue to be caught in this trap, and only one side potentially has the resources to go the full length of both processes. The new federal legislation must address this situation, so that communities and individuals with limited resources know where to focus their energy. This makes sense because federal decisions are about the “good” of the entire nation.

3.d  Points regarding the Navigation Protection Act

▪ You have received extensive input on the need for bringing back protection to to help the creatures that live in, on and around our Navigable Waters. Contrary
to this, the NPA review panel has recommended not restoring the “Schedule” to pre-Harper standards. Their proposal of having a review process to add lakes and rivers to the Schedule is very minimalist and “high level”: none of the structural details are provided. We are being asked to trust that you will do this properly, but frankly many of us we are still in an era of mistrust. In addition to whatever is ultimately done about this part of your proposal, we are asking for the reinstatement of all lakes and rivers formerly protected through the Navigable Waters Protection Act’s “Schedule.”

▪ In general shipping is little considered in environmental impact assessments: it seems to be regarded as a “given” that the right to navigate waters takes primacy over virtually anything else. Recently Minister LeBlanc made an exceptional appeal to shipping tanker/transport companies to slow down in the areas of the St. Lawrence where several dead Right Whales have been found this year. Now a $25,000 fine has been instituted for those shipping through these waters who fail to slow down, but the fines must be much stiffer to change the conduct of these companies. For all vulnerable habitat or migration waters, protection from shipping-tanker kills must be in the NPA in clear language and very specific terms. As has been done in this emergency situation regarding the Right Whales, capacity needs to be on deck in full force too. This will require funding.

3.e  Points regarding the Fisheries Act

▪ In your current material about changes to the Fisheries Act, you comment that the multiplicity of stressors facing marine life fall into a variety of jurisdictions and that they can be tackled through collaboration. Yet we see no plan for how that collabor-ation will take place. The crises enveloping marine life are increasingly severe. A major factor in this crisis is that no one entity is “in charge” – accountable – for the full range of protection, regulation and enforcement measures that are required.

One significant example is the hazards posed to indigenous or wild sea creatures when aquaculture goes wrong, which it frequently does. This past week, just off of Vancouver Island, tens of thousands of farmed Atlantic Salmon accidentally got loose and are now running with the endangered wild or indigenous Pacific Salmon. As well, this week a video was released showing many sick and/or deformed aqua-culture salmon in west coast fish farms. Obviously, some international accords must be signed to address these matters. But, first we need the proper protections –including genuinely appropriate design of a project, regulations of operation, and enforcement of standards – in our own country. As things stand presently, no collaborative or single authority has the powers to stop a process that will result in further disaster to wild/indigenous fish from aquaculture populations.

We hasten to add that this is just one of many, many such examples where our marine life protection policies are inadequate. The point we are making is we need one authority looking out to protect all sea life for future generations, using the best science and all other possible tools, as well as stakeholder round tables to gather expertise, share rationales, and secure commitments. That means breaking down silos in mandate and jurisdiction, and working together for the common good.

▪ Because of the undermining and undervaluing of capacity that DFO Science,
Conservation, and enforcement programmes have experienced in recent decades, a situation emerged where millions of herring beached and died in the Bay of Fundy this past winter and DFO response was meagre, slow, and ultimately inconclusive except to say the event was now finished. Even more ecently there was a report from scientists at Simon Fraser University that found that DFO’s failure to monitor as much as half of all wild salmon populations on the west coast is contributing to the imminent demise of that fishery. Indigenous communities on the west coast are distraught by this deepening crisis and their grassroots members and leaders are beginning to take matters into their hands. Funding, personnel and libraries must be restored and renewed to address worsening conditions for marine life.

For fresh water we need the complete revival of and funding for the Experimental Lakes science development program: this means restoring federal funding to needed levels so that collaboration will flow between  governmental and scientific/ngo communities.

Put the definition of HADD (“the harmful alteration, disruption or
destruction of fish habitat”) back into the Fisheries Act, and add policies, funding, and personnel to assist with rebuilding degraded and damaged habitats.

“Cumulative effects” on a species or habitat must be included in all
environmental assessments.

3.f  Points regarding the Oceans Act

▪ We ask that you consider how the ERRDP proposal can be augmented to
break down federal department silos and actually protect our environment
from even our own government’s initiatives. Without living and vibrant
oceans our planet is not viable. Between the Oceans Act, the NPA Act,
and the Fisheries Act, it is possible to weave a web of protection. It is
imperative we start today.

▪ A critique of the Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area (LCMPA) was submitted by Kent County COC Chapter in July, 2017 (see #2 below). As with many of our communications on marine and coastal issues, we have never received a response to this. We are also aware that you received communications regarding the LCMPA from Dr. Rodolphe Devillers from Memorial University in Newfoundland (dated July 18, 2017), and others. One example of the issues raised by us and others is that the LCMPA proposal allows oil and gas activity in what amounts to 98% of the so-called “protected area.” This lapse in judgement suggests that your government still has a lot of work to do enforcing environmental impact logic and standards on its own departments. Protection of Marine Areas must be done according to established international standards, for which the science is available. Anything less is just window dressing and a betrayal of future generations.

3.g  Additional points raised by ERRDP and other reviews:

▪ Both the NEB panel and the Common Ground report address the need to respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). They also both speak to the necessity of culturally respectful processes to facilitate inclusion of Traditional Indigenous Knowledge (TIK) throughout all review processes up to and including the actual Impact and/or Environmental Assessments. However, UNDRIP is not mentioned once in the ERRDP.

This is a very serious concern for us. UNDRIP sets the standard for what must be in all environmental reviews in Canada. Further, the ERRDP only poses – but does not address – the question of assuring cultural competence and inclusion when integrating TIK in federal environmental protection processes. We want to know your specific plan: the who, when, how, where, why, etc., for this crucial element of the entire proposal.

▪ The Precautionary Principle was advocated for all instances of uncertainty in the Common Ground report and this theme was taken up in the ERRDP. Our question is: what is the threshold for elevating the Precautionary Principle to centre stage in a proposal discussion, or a review process? How will this button get pushed? With so much our natural environment in a precarious situation, we need to make sure that the regulatory pathway to enacting the Precautionary Principle is transparent and accessible to all.

Canadian case law upholds the overarching trustee responsibility of government to err on the side of caution when legitimate “flags are raised” about dangers to human health. Despite this, at the current time, federal agencies are unable – for example – to ensure that aquaculture industries do not allow diseases, medicines, or modified fish to escape into indigenous (wild) fisheries populations, yet western and indigenous science voices are very concerned about these issues.

Similarly, not so long ago, unconventional hydraulic fracking was considered safe, and people who spoke about possible risks faced stiff opposition from governments who wanted to allow fracking industries in their regions. Now science agrees with many of the concerns that were raised by citizens before peer-review science confirmed what local people were seeing.

This are just two small examples of the gaps that highlight the need for clarity on how to arrive at a decision to rely on the Precautionary Principle. The Principle offers a meaningful interim solution to emerging environmental concerns. We need to see the details about how the Precautionary Principle can be enacted by public call, to feel confident that it will indeed be relied on appropriately.

4.  Our New Proposals to You

Ongoing pathways for dialogue and information sharing are of greatest importance to
protecting bioregions and using deep ecological analysis. These paths must be enshrined
in legislation, supporting regional citizen scientists and traditional knowledge-holders to
share expertise with frontline government personnel. The NEB panel report includes a
proposal along these lines:

“Our recommendations call for Regional Multi-Stakeholder Committees designed to
improve emergency preparedness and make standards more rigorous, enhanced
monitoring, and more robust analysis of risks to set priorities and drive continuous
improvement. The synergy achieved through these Committees will also provide
deep insight as to the scope of regional interests for any future project reviews.” (pg
5, in “Executive Summary” of NEB report).

However, this is not reflected in the ERRDP.

Our proposal is that your government implement this “regional multi-stakeholder
approach” by creating regional Environmental Protection Networking Committees
that would advise EACC, NRC, DFO, TC, etc..  They would meet face-to-face on an
appointed schedule to exchange information. They would also meet on an “as needs” basis, when urgent issues arise.

  • The community members could be respected individuals nominated through a
    public process, and representatives appointed by relevant organizations. Travel and meeting costs will paid by the government. The information and networking
    facilitated by these bodies will more than justify the costs.
  • Under the wing of EACC, all relevant federal departments could nominate a gate-
    keeper liaison staff person to sit on each Regional Committees. Opening these
    communication paths would be a huge step forward. This proposal would address a
    lot of problems that local communities like ours have, when trying to bring local
    environmental issues to the attention of federal departments.
  • We have previously noted that panel reports contain worthy and important
    specifications on inclusion of and working with Indigenous communities and elders. Our proposal is an inclusive one, advocating that Indigenous represen-tatives must also be part of these regional advisory bodies. However, nothing mentioned here is intended to replace Canada’s UNDRIP responsibilities to
    consult BEFORE doing anything at all, or allowing anything at all.
    We just think
    everything will work better if we are all at the same table during operational
    discussions. 
  • Importantly, local “citizen scientist” networks (through community associations,
    independent businesses, post-secondary institutions, non-governmental
    organizations, etc.) would be connected to our proposed Environmental Protection
    Networking Committees. The need for this became evident during the recent marine animal die-off crises in the Bay of Fundy. In previous decades, there were strong links between government conservation/enforcement staff and concerned
    community members. After various departmental restructurings in the latter 1900’s, this relationship diminished as bureaucracy grew. The remnants of this voluntary collaboration were killed by the previous government, who wanted no intruders to disturb their pro-industry agenda. The regional networking committees can be a conduit through which urgent connection between citizen scientists and personnel in federal frontline environmental protection departments is facilitated, as well as for preliminary discussion on proposals, etc.

On a different topic, we recommend that the criminal code be amended to provide
stiff consequences for industries who violate environmental regulations by, for
example: releasing deleterious substances into the land, air or water; damage to habitat of protected animals or plants; traveling too fast or carelessly through habitat or migration areas; or, otherwise doing substantial, irreversible, or irremediable damage to the environment.

Our greatest concern, overall is that democracy, accountability and transparency be the modus operandi of all government departments, branches and personnel who have responsibility for ensuring protection of our threatened and struggling natural  environment. That is how you will rebuild trust as well as allow your greatest allies, us – the grassroots people – to assist in protecting what is left for future generations. Therefore, information must be made available to people in affected areas NOT ONLY through digital transmission such as social media, websites, email, etc.

Many rural and many lower-income people in Canada do not use computers as  conveniently as most urban and highly-schooled Canadians. Yet, it is invariably the
poorer and more rural people who are living in what some term as proposed “sacrifice
zones,” where proponents or governments seek to do major resource extraction  developments. In other words these populations are “the most directly affected.”
Communications to the public must be published in print media, via flyer at local government offices, and through all other available person-to-person means, including seeking networking/outreach assistance with local environment, community, ngo, and Indigenous communities and groups.

This takes us back to our proposal for the Regional Multi-Stakeholder Committees. Provided with the flyers and information, the members of these committees can become
funnels for outgoing material, as well as incoming opinions and emergency response
collaborative organizing.

Notwithstanding any overlap with points made above, and in solidarity, we endorse the call made by West Coast Environmental Law for a “next-generation environmental assessment law for Canada that: works to achieve sustainability for both the environment and human well-being; assesses the cumulative impacts of development projects in a region; advances reconciliation and co-governance with Indigenous peoples; ensures more projects get assessed; aligns with Paris Agreement climate commitments; is transparent, accountable and includes meaningful public participation, including language rights.”

Submitted by:

Ann Pohl, Kent County NB Chapter, Council of Canadiansphoto of me
coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com
506-785-2998 (home) / 506-521-0465 (cell)

 

 

  1. see: www.neb-one.gc.ca/bts/ctrg/mmrndm/ 2013fshrcnscnd-eng.html 
  2. see: https://kentcountynbenvironmentwatch.wordpress.com/2017/07/11/
    proposedlcmpaissues/
Advertisements

An Open Letter re: the Outstanding NB Medical Officer of Health’s Report on Glyphosate Herbicides

13427865_10208629272382259_8775867326137825778_n

Council of Canadians – Kent County NB Chapter
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/KentCountyChapterCoC/?fref=ts
email: coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com
June 28, 2016

Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health
Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
Government of New Brunswick
HSBC Place, Floor: 5
P. O. Box 5100, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5G8
transmitted by email: Jennifer.Russell@gnb.ca

Dear Dr. Russell:

We need to see that report on glyphosate that you promised we would have before the spray season begins. We need to see that report now. It is not clear to us if your report has been scrapped, suppressed, or something else has happened.

Dr. Russell, the spray season is upon us. Both CN Rail and NB Power have already publicly released their approved spray plans. Timber industries have already compiled their lists of acreage they want to spray for their monoculture conifer plantations. Their applications for taxpayer-financed provincial silviculture spraying are being reviewed, and they anticipate approvals within the next few weeks.

We remember all too well how the government of that day tried to bury Dr. Cleary’s report on fracking in 2012. They knew they could not “control” her when it came to matters of public health, and they knew the report did not agree with their stated view that fracking is perfectly safe and would be great for NB. A similar situation potentially exists with this matter because in recent weeks, Minister Denis Landry and Premier Brian Gallant have both said glyphosate is safe.

On May 18th, I and eleven other New Brunswickers hand-delivered a formal complaint to the New Brunswick Ombudsman. It addresses matters pertaining to the “no cause” termination of the former Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), Dr. Eilish Cleary. Our major concern is the status of Dr. Cleary’s promise to investigate and report re: the risks of glyphosate herbicide compounds on population and environmental health. Our conversation with NB Ombudsman Charles Murray is ongoing.

During her exemplary tenure as CMOH, Dr. Cleary established a very high standard for independent and comprehensive research, both with her peer-acclaimed 2012 report on population impacts of shale gas development, and in the Health Impact Assessments model developed in 2015 for the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing. Since we learned that Dr. Cleary was put on leave and then dismissed, I am only one of thousands of New Brunswickers who are concerned that we will not see a comprehensive and independent report from the Office of the CMOH on glyphosate herbicide spray use in our province.

In her communication to me promising this report (sent August 14, 2015), Dr. Cleary said that her office would develop “a plan” for reporting “in the coming year.” In response to the issues I raised on behalf of our group, the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Dr. Cleary also made the following comments:

  • concurrence with the IARC/WHO conclusion that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”;
  • there is need investigate “the nature, duration and intensity of the exposure to the toxins in this province” and to look into the high incidence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma among men in NB;
  • any further protections needed to protect the population in New Brunswick would be independently developed and not curtailed by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency conclusions.

On September 24, 2015, I wrote the former-CMOH concerning some additional issues raised by members of our group. You responded to this letter, Dr. Russell, on November 9th, as follows:

  • re: “cases of poor compliance with setback distances, inadequate signage and ineffective advance notice of spraying,” your “office will bring these issues forward to the Department of Environment and Local Government which regulates these aspects of pesticide use”;
  • regarding when we could expect the report: “it is our understanding that its use is seasonal so we do not expect any significant spraying between now and the summer of 2016. We anticipate completing our action plan in advance of the next spraying season.” Subsequently, in a communication to Dr. Caroline Lubbedarcy, you promised the report this Spring.

Dr. Cleary’s impending and then actual dismissal broke in the media in early December 2015. At that time, the Deputy Minister of Health, the Minister of Health, and the Premier all affirmed that this report was forthcoming as originally promised. Spring is over, and the spray season has begun. Where is the report?

I am sure you are aware that new research is coming out all the time on these herbicide compounds.

A literature review by 14 diverse scientists called Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement, was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment Health on February 17, 2016. You will find the content in the appendices especially alarming. Other research suggests that glyphosate on its own is not nearly as bad as the complex herbicide formulation, glyphosate PLUS additives and adjutants, that make it work and are protected as “trade secrets.” As I understand it, these additional substances are what carry the glyphosate across cell walls and increase the hazards by untold magnitudes in a multitude of ways. Of huge concern to scientists studying glyphosate is that its use is so widespread: people’s exposures to the residue are pandemic, and tests show high concentrations in humans.

I am sure you are also aware that a 2001 Supreme Court of Canada decision affirmed government has a rightful mandate to apply the “precautionary principle” on the directly related matter of pesticides. The Consensus Statement referenced above clearly advocates for caution and care, and is part of the reason we are convinced that the precautionary principle must be applied to use of glyphosate here in New Brunswick. The precautionary principle can be understood as: first, do no harm; and, second, avoid doing things when there is a reasonable likelihood this could cause harm. The principle applies until the safety of the matter in question can be established.

Thousands and thousands of New Brunswickers share the concerns I have penned on behalf of our Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians. Valid population and environmental health research of the risks associated with these compounds is urgently needed. We sincerely hope that the report you have been working on will meet the tests for being valid, in depth and independent.

Please send me the report that we are promised.

Respectfully yours,

Ann Pohl
Chairperson, Kent County NB Chapter – Council of Canadians

Copies:

12321540_10153099976890044_6232575893423374604_n

 

Important Info: Forestry Protection Presentations on Clearcutting and Spraying

These presentations were made at the Peace & Friendship Alliance Meeting
in Rogersville, June 11, 2016. To become acquainted with the Alliance,
please ask to join our closed Facebook page of the same name. 

Caution: these notes are not verbatim. They are based on memory. In places, additional supporting information is included, to assist people getting active on forestry issues. 

13435299_10209804573337194_3883749741147972503_n

Yesterday, more than 60 residents from communities and groups in all four directions in New Brunswick gathered in Rogersville. Thanks to Le Buck Stop hunting club owner Gerry Vautour for the use his space, and to Gerry Leblanc for the beautiful signs and Leo Goguen for the artist’s materials.

It was the monthly gathering of the Peace and Friendship Alliance (P&FA), which moves around the province. The P&FA brings together Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Acadian, Anglo, and Newcomer New Brunswickers, to protect the natural environment that sustains all life on this planet. 

12662461_459506297576304_2396802875873503967_nThis meeting was jointly hosted by the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians and the Rogersville Lumberjacks, with support from Kopit Lodge at Elsipogtog. All four New Brunswick chapters of the Council of Canadians were present, as were many other groups and individuals, especially concerned woodsmen from the Rogersville area. Both Kopit Lodge and Maliseet (Wolastoq) Grand Council were also represented.

Rogersville is a community where the forest is close to everyone’s heart. Throughout the day, there were six reports on our special theme: protecting the the natural indigenous Acadian forest life from clearcutting and the use of poisonous herbicides.

Kenneth Francis, Speaker for Kopit Lodge/Elsipogtog First Nation (EFN)
DSCN2795

This meeting was held in Mi’kma’ki, so the first presentation was from Elder Kenneth Francis of Kopit Lodge. “Kopit” means beaver, and is the animal that represents the Lodge because of its concern for the water. Kopit Lodge is the grassroots community organization mandated by Chief and Council to represent EFN in strategic and official consultations on natural resource issues.

Kenneth opened his presentation speaking about the Wabanaki People, who are of several different nations. All of Mi’kma’ki is part of this: seven distinct districts that traditionally extend from what is now the centre of New Brunswick to the north in Gaspe (Gespe’ke) to the east in Cape Breton (Unama’kik). All must be united in this Peace & Friendship Alliance, based on the treaty of the same name.

Kenneth spoke of two important things he has learned from his teachers. If you can speak your truth in a group, and people hear what you have to say, and you leave the room with the same number of allies you had when you entered, you did well. If you increased your alliances, you did very well.

As well, he remembered an historical tale about settlers discussing what the Mi’kmaq were like. One remarked to the other that, in the woods, they were part of nature, they were not separable from nature, it was all one sphere of life together. Kenneth said that is why they are preparing themselves for taking their issues into court.

Of greatest concern to Kopit and EFN is the poor way that the province is caretaking the environment, especially the devastation of clearcutting and spraying in the forest. For more than a year, Kenneth said, “We have been trying to get the provincial government to come to the table and consult with us on these issues. They keep ignoring us so we have to go the next step.” Recently Kopit/EFN served notice to the provincial government that they intend to file a claim for Aboriginal Title, to protect the environment for future generations.

Ken stressed that Kopit expects a dramatic increase in anti-Indigenous backlash, aimed at alienating non-Native allies from this strategic move. He provided some examples of what he has already started to see and what he thinks is coming. With a thank you to those present who have already expressed their support, Kenneth said Kopit has prepared some notes on what could be included in letters that non-Native environmentalists might choose to write to support the Kopit/EFN IMW (Protecting the Earth for Future Generations) legal strategy. (These guidelines are attached below.)

Leo Goguen, a lifelong outdoorsman and lumberjack from Rogersville NB

DSCN2825.JPG

Leo is also the Board Member representing Rogersville and Acadieville at the South East New Brunswick (SENB) Wood Marketing Board. He spoke about what he has seen in the forest since he was a boy. Leo brought in samples of branches from a local chopping that has been sprayed three times in recent years to suppress the natural forest. It is clear that patch of forest is determined to survive! Despite reports that have been widely circulated about how the animals will not eat the poisoned plants, Leo saw nine moose eating from this chopping last winter. Many local people hunt moose. One local hunter took a moose from this chopping, because the government says it is safe, and fed his five kids on it last winter.

Leo emphasized the extent to which private woodlot owners have been so marginalized in the industry, because they are unable to sell their wood at even break-even prices, thanks to provincial-corporate lumber agreements and also the lack of regulatory enforcement.

With equal amounts of irony and frustration, Leo said that privately-held woodlots have become by default the only protected forest areas in the province, because of how the 2014 Forest Management Agreement has cut protected areas to almost nothing and the fact that woodlot owners cannot afford to cut their woods for the corporate-owned mills.

Finally, he mentioned that NB Power, a provincial agency, uses herbicide sprays on their lines, and sometimes on older lines they may have neglected to get any consent from landowners. If anyone has a power line running through their property, you can call Rick Doucet at NB Power and ask to have your portion of the line put on their “No Spray” list: 506-470-8748. You need to provide NB Power with your Service New Brunswick PID number to get on this list.

Spasaqsit Possesom (Ron Tremblay), Grand Chief of the Wolastoq (Maliseet) Grand Council, agreed with Leo that putting pressure on NB Power is important. The Grand Council is seeking a meeting with NB Power to talk about their use of herbicide sprays.

Marcel Maillet, General Manager of the SENB Marketing Board

Before introducing Marcel, Leo told of an SENB meeting where the 120+- members present were asked by someone to stand if they opposed herbicide spraying on the forest. As far as Leo could see, everyone stood up. Marcel Maillet’s presentation confirmed that the South-East NB Marketing Board members are against the spraying.

Marcel introduced himself as coming from four generations of woodlot owenership, in Kent and Westmoreland counties, and he has 35 years of experience working in forestry. He said, “My father taught me to always respect the land and only take what you need… I don’t believe in using pesticides on forests. A forest is more than a tree farm.”

13445390_10154296370247139_7030627364899175080_n

Marcel tore apart the government and industry messaging that it is more financially economical to use spray “silviculture” than the old-style manual silviculture thinning.

After a chopping is cut, it is sprayed: this is called “seed spray.” A year or two later, when the soil has settled from the upheaval of clear-cut harvesting, the infant spruce trees are planted in the chopping. The area will be sprayed again late that summer or in early fall. After that it will be sprayed at least once more, sometimes 2 or 3 additional times. This is done to reduce the competition from the indigenous mixed Acadian forest fauna, many of whom grow much more quickly than the planted softwood trees. (The original forest plants and trees often come up from roots left in the soil.) 

Each time a clear-cut acre is sprayed it costs between $300 and $400 (let’s say an average of $350/acre). Therefore – at a bare minimum – it costs at least $1050 to do spray silvaculture on a one-acre chopping if only three sprays are needed: a seed spray, a spray right after planting, and one more. But remember, often more are required.  Our maple trees are the hardest to kill.

By contrast, manual silviculture by thinning costs about $300 per acre. It is most likely only needed twice, maybe 3 times, on a softwood plantation. It is less expensive and it makes jobs. A question was asked if there would be people to work these jobs, because industry/government suggest there are not. Both Leo and Marcel believe there would be silvaculturalists ready and happy to work. Not using the sprays eliminates the health impacts for humans and other life in the forest, means that nearby woodlots or fields will not be harmed by air-borne spray, and reduces the carbon-based environmental impact footprint on that area. If done in a mixed forest, to strengthen it, manual silvaculture thinning keeps the original forest intact making it more resilient to climatic and pest challenges. In the current market, hardwoods can be more profitable to harvest. 

The system we have now of using sprays for plantation silviculture only works because it is subsidized by the taxpayer through agreements between the lumbering corporations and the provincial government.

Comments from participants included: the true cost of the silviculture program should include health costs and flood costs as a result of clearcuts; and, Spruce Budworm spraying was stopped in NB because of the Migratory Bird Protection Act – NB  does not have strong legislation to protect the public, but strong legislation still exists under the Migratory Bird Act.

ECOvie from Restigouche Ouest

Next up were Francine Levesque and Jean MacDonald from ECOvie, a group from the Restigouche Ouest region of our province. Over 3,000 of the signatures on the petition against spraying that was filed with the NB Legislature came from their rural, sparsely settled area. Many people in that area have personal experiences with the wreckage and misery caused by clear-cutting and spraying.

Maple syrup production is currently a growing and employment-generating non-corporate natural industry in the area, and the maple products producers are set against the spraying. The hardwood mill in their region is a very well-respected local employer and more jobs like that would be a benefit to the area. 2016-05-19.jpg

ECOvie invited allies from around the province to support their plans to make more people aware exactly how clear-cutting and softwood plantation practices rely on the sprays, and of the need to stop the spraying. More will be announced about their plans as the spraying season approaches.

On August 27, the Peace and Friendship Alliance will meet in the Kedgwick area. Trailers and tents are welcome, if people want to come up the night before so they do not have such a long drive on the morning of the meeting.

Frank Johnston, Southeast Chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick 

Frank is also a member of the provincial CCNB Board of Director’s Executive Committee. He presented a powerpoint show on loss of forest cover in the province since 2001, entitled, Forest Cover Loss in NB : A Process of Liquidation. It is a strong piece of scientifically assembled video research. Even better, it is available for groups and communities across the province to borrow, with or without Frank, because it has speaker notes embedded in it.

Between 2001 and 2012, New Brunswickers lost 1.7 times more of our public forest than has been replanted into the problematic industrial softwood tree plantations. It has not gotten better. Anyone living in or near the forest knows that the losses have gotten worse under the 2014 Forest Management Agreement signed by the Government of New Brunswick with JDI of the Irving group of companies, and now ratified by other major lumber corporations in the province. 

It is clear that we are losing good, indigenous mixed forest at a much greater rate than it is being replaced. The replanting is of only one species, which will not be climate change adaptable. Both the type of tree and the fact that it is monoculture makes our woods more susceptible to pest infestations which kill the trees and add to wildfire risks. 

Screenshot from 2016-06-13 10:40:00 Flooding is also a clear-cut side-effect, as we saw in Sussex area recently.

In another few weeks, Frank will be able to harness and start crunching the annual satellite-based data release from the University of Maryland on tree cover loss. Then he will be able to report on what the loss and replacement of tree cover looked like in 2015. It will be worse than previous years, based on anecdotal and photo evidence from around the province. But, it seems that in 2013, “a single clear cut above Thompson Road, South Branch” in Kings County, “369 contiguous hectares were cut even though 60 – 70 hectare cuts were the then current DNR guideline standard.” The majority of this cutting was on Crown Land License #6, held by JDI of the Irving group of companies (the minor part was adjacent freehold of unknown ownership). Likely, it was all cut for JDI by JDI’s subcontractors.

Frank concluded his talk saying that the management of Crown Land should return to the province, and that a vigorous program of “afforestation must replace the current policy of liquidation.”

There was discussion around his proposal for a “return to” management by the “province”. First, this offers no substantial protection for the environment based on how governments of different political parties all seem equally captured by the lumbering corporations whims. Secondly, the province does not have title to these lands: they have never been surrendered and have continuously been used for traditional uses by the original Indigenous Peoples. From an Indigenous rights perspective, especially now that Canada has fully agreed to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Mi’kmaq and the Wolastoq must be centrally involved in the management of the public forests. However, everyone agreed a new management regime is required and that an aggressive program of reforestration with mixed Acadian forest fauna is required, especially those plants that will be adaptable to climate changes.

Everyone was extremely appreciative of Frank’s work and presentation. Contact Frank c/o Tracy Glynn, Forestry staffer at CCNB, at <forest@conservationcouncil.ca>.

Stop Spraying New Brunswick (SSNB) Facebook Page 

Caroline Lubbe-Darcy presented this report. With the NB hunters and outdoors enthusiasts coming on board, support to end spraying in the forests has grown a lot. Doctors are also getting involved.

11140029_10153323672566365_9114381791770508962_nAt the rally on May 18, 2016 at the New Brunswick Legislature, a petition to stop spraying signed by almost 13,000 New Brunswickers was given to two MLA’s – David Coon and Gilles Lepage – who filed the petitions on behalf of  SSNB. David Coon raised this matter in the Legislature and Coon has circulated the response of then Minister of Natural Resources Denis Landry to this petition. As Landry is no longer Minister for this department, SSNB is going to follow up with the new Minister of Natural Resources. Everyone is asked to push for many more signed petitions for the next filing date: the deadline for getting these to SSNB is September 10th.

Caroline also reminded people to let NB Power know if you do not want them to spray herbicides on hydro line that is on your property. The info on this is on the SSNB FB page, where one can also find reports about glyphosate and other herbicides, and see photos of clear cuts and the damage being done to our forests. People are reminded to film or photograph clear cut areas, using gps tracking information if possible, and upload these visuals to the SSNB page.

SSNB volunteers are working on information sheets on the impacts of herbicide sprays. There was some discussion on this, with general agreement that public information is essential but many people feeling short videos are more effective. Caroline emphasized that the info sheets they envisage will be brief as most people do not have a lot of time for in-depth reading. There was also discussion of using consumer pressure on the companies that use the sprays.

An exciting development that will be very helpful is the beginning of a Spray Caucus through the New Brunswick Environment Network (NBEN). NBEN has helped many other grassroots environmental movements to network through regularly-scheduled caucus teleconferences. Both the Fredericton and the Kent County chapters of the Council of Canadians are members of NBEN and took part in the first discussion to set up this teleconference network.

Only organizations (not individuals) can take part in these “phone meetings’ – either groups that belong to the NBEN, or those who are nominated by a member group to join the caucus, who then become associate members. So, now is the time to form your own little group with concerned friends and neighbours – it is easier to get things done with a group, and you could consider joining this new caucus! 

Brainstorming Where to Next, To Stop Spraying?

After these presentations concluded, there was an open “brainstorming” discussion. Details from that are not being shared in this document. Many of the ideas were in preliminary stages and need more planning and networking to be fully developed. In general, some points made included: showing how much we value our forests by being in them in a good way; increasing public education including finding places for Frank to present his presentation, and also use of short videos; developing consumer pressure strategies; developing more diverse tactical strategies for getting changes in provincial policies; focusing on climate action issues.

Mark D’Arcy remarked, “I hope there is such a multitude of events on this issue in the next few months that none of us can keep track of them.”

13427865_10208629272382259_8775867326137825778_n

All four New Brunswick Council of Canadians chapters Present and Accounted For!


Main Points for letters of support re Kopit/EFN aboriginal title claim,
which are to make clear that allies support this legal action:

  1. acknowledge the ongoing injustices endured by Mi’kmaq People, all of which have been done to steal the land and resources from the People, so the title and rights of the People must be affirmed by the courts
  2. recognize that Canadian laws and governments cannot adequately protect the regional natural environment, presently the only hope for protection of the natural environment is through assertion of Aboriginal title, which will result in the Mi’kmaq people being in a caretaking position for the region’s resources, lands, waters, and air
  3. undo the corporate capture of New Brunswick and help promote genuine democracy in this region, where all people have a say in matters that pertain to and govern their everyday lives

Address to:
Kenneth Francis, Speaker for Kopit Lodge at Elsipogtog First Nation

Mail to Kopit/EFN lawyer:
Bruce McIvor, First Peoples Law, 111 Water Street,
Suite 300, Vancouver, BC   V6B 1A7

Email:
To:
kgunn@firstpeopleslaw.com,
CC. to: imw.legalfund@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Submission to Government of New Brunswick on “Water Strategy”

 

11101926_675102362590738_2022585982866706568_o

Council of Canadians Water Protection Day, Brown’s Yard Bridge


Kent County Chapter, Council of Canadians
April 28, 2016

Department of Environment and Local Government (DELG),
Policy and Planning Division,
P.O. Box 6000,
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1

Re: Public Input on “Water Strategy”

Dear Honourable Minister Brian Kenny:

The Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians is forwarding to you this submission regarding the new “Water Strategy.”

New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance Submission

On April 20, 2016, the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) submitted to you a document called “Remarks to the Department of the Environment and Local Government on Creating a Water Strategy.” Our group, the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians is a longstanding member of NBASGA, and we are in accord with the points raised in that submission. We will not repeat what is said in that submission.

Like all the member groups in NBASGA, we also speak with and for a specific community in this province that is concerned about major environmental issues. Since 2010, people in Kent County have had to fight very hard to protect: our water and the rest of our environment; the health of people in all communities in our region; and, the creatures and plants that live in the water, soil and air here. This fight-for-our-lives has taught us a lot and especially shown us to what extent we can trust the government in Fredericton to care about us. On the following pages you will see why we are extremely concerned about the development of this Water Strategy. We conclude by asking you to start the consultation over again – and do it the right way.

The Government of New Brunswick does not have a good record on environmental protection.

In recent years some of the evidence of this includes:

  • issuing licenses for shale gas extraction exploration and development in 2010, without doing the research to determine if this was an environmentally sound activity;

  • ignoring the many recommendations about the links between environmental matters and population health contained in the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s 2012 peer-acclaimed, awarded, report on the risks, hazards, and benefits of the shale gas industry for this province;

  • revoking, in 2013, the very strong well water protection regulation that was passed in 2011, which required those doing seismic exploration for oil and gas to test every potable water well along the proposed route;

  • in 2013, stripping most of New Brunswick’s wetlands from their prior protected status, which many local Kent residents believe had to do with the damage to wetlands the government knew would happen during the seismic exploration for fracking that took place later that year;

  • passage of a 25-year forestry management plan in 2014, which overwhelmingly advantages one major corporation in the province, and even more so disadvantages the common, humble people who live near the province’s public forest reserves (also called “Crown,” formerly called “Indian” or “Native” land), and who rely on the forest for at least part of their local sustainable livelihood;

  • promising during the 2014 election to revise the forestry agreement and then saying they would not;

  • approving the permit to construct Sisson Mine in December 2015, without considering first the many environmental and other issues raised by the public, which were published in a report (dated January 2016) by the group of experts contracted by the province to collect public opinion;

  • in the absence of an in-place and functioning water protection regulatory system, eagerly and energetically promoting the development of the Energy East pipeline, which will cross approximately 300 waterways in the province as it snakes along the Saint John rivershed from the northwest corner of the province to the Bay of Fundy, also seemingly to benefit a major corporation, as it will create very few jobs and much risk to the rural areas and those who need water in this province.

The above list of examples does not include a truly major issue: the shameful mess associated with the Government of New Brunswick’s 2002 “Water Classification Regulation.” Incalculable millions of dollars and unquantifiable preparatory community volunteer and provincial staff hours were spent on preparation for the implementation of this regulation, which has been very successful in Maine. For more than a decade, this policy simply collected dust. It was never operationalized. 

599306_10151815955225599_1258067620_n

View of the River in Fords Mills, photo credit George Griffin

The Ombudsman’s Report on the previous, unenforced Water Strategy

In 2013, the Ombudsman for the Province of New Brunswick received a complaint from one of the community organizations involved in the early preparatory work for the 2002 Water Classification Regulation. On August 15, 2014, the Report of the Ombudsman into the Department of Environment’s Management of the Provincial Water Classification Program was published.

In that report, the Ombudsman identifies four aspects that are extremely relevant to this current policy development process:

  1. An apparent government preoccupation with being challenged for authority by corporate interests: On December 2, 2008, the Minister of the Environment said in the Legislature, “What was brought to our attention was that, in the Clean Water Act, we did not have enough authority to run the Water Classification Program… I think what is important to understand is that, right now, under the Act, neither the minister nor the government has the legal capacity to run the program. We do not have the authority. That is all. The only thing that we are asking for is to legalize it here in the House, so that the department and the government have authority to act. That is all. Right now, there are certain activities, for instance, that are not permitted. The minister cannot prohibit those activities because it would not be legal to do so. We could and would be challenged in court. The only thing that we are asking for is to make it legal. That is all… The Department of Justice told us: ‘Well, if you are challenged in court, it is highly likely you will lose.’ ” As the Ombudsman notes, this speech pertained to the passage of a Bill that would strengthen those regulatory powers, and this Bill was given Royal Assent later in December 2008. Still the Water Classification Regulation was not operationalized.

  2. A Troubling Use of Ministerial Discretion,” which the Ombudsman details on pages 6 and 7 of his report so there is no need to summarize here. Just the title of this section summons up the common experience of New Brunswickers: the lack of transparency and accountability by the Government of New Brunswick, especially regarding backroom deals made with corporations that disadvantage ordinary New Brunswickers.

  3. The “Mirage” Aspect, whereby the government claims to do, and makes it look as if they are doing, something they are not doing. Specifically, the Ombudsman identifies “focused political will is the missing element” for successful resolution of this issue, which is another way of saying the bureaucracy has been mandated to make it look like something is happening while the real attention of the political arm of government is focused elsewhere.

  4. The use of public resources for accomplishing nothing, or even worse allowing things to happen that are not in the true public interest. As the Ombudsman points out, this monstrous regulatory wreckage “perpetuated the illusion that the province has a water classification program” while “deflecting public pressure,” so it reduced “vigilance” simultaneous to providing “no protection.” It is from conduct such as this that the vast majority of New Brunswickers have become cynical and distrustful about our government and its (lack of) intention to protect our treasured and essential natural environment which sustains all life.

468189_10150696381220932_940022360_o

Rexton Bridge, decorated with Blue Ribbons to Protect the Water

Distrust of Government, and Not Being Consulted or Heard

Within less than two weeks of the announcement that your government was working on this new “Strategy,” Town Hall meetings began around the province to discuss it. Some might think this was a good thing: to get public input early in the process. We doubt it is early in the process: you have had almost two years to figure out how to respond to the Ombudsman’s report.

Those of us who have been watching what the province has been doing on natural resource and environment issues for the past two years are regretfully skeptical regarding how serious your government really is about this “Water Strategy.” Why the enormous hurry? People had no time to arrange to attend these meetings feeling prepared. Or was that on purpose?

It is instructive to look at the independent panel soliciting public opinion on the Sisson Mine proposal, Summary of Public and First Nations Participation. It discusses in detail the lack of public confidence that New Brunswickers have in your government’s intention to protect our priceless natural environment: the same natural environment that sustains us all.

Most significantly, the independent “Summary” report on Sisson Mine discusses, at length, aboriginal and treaty rights and the obligations of the Crown (on matters of natural resources, this would be the Provincial Crown) in regards to Indigenous Peoples. (See pages 12 – 92, in particular.) Your government clearly needs to pay closer attention to this text, because once again on the development of this Water Strategy, you have failed to do your due diligence in consulting with our neighbour Indigenous community, Elsipogtog First Nation (EFN).

Our Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians works very closely with our neighbours at EFN on environmental issues. EFN’s mandated consultation delegation on natural resource issues is led by Kenneth Francis, of Kopit Lodge. (Kopit means “beaver” and the principal mission of the Lodge is to protect the water.)

It is our understanding that Mr. Francis sent you a letter in early March asking for information about this Strategy. Apparently, this sat on your desk, Minister Kenny, for more than five weeks. Your response, dated April 14th, advised the deadline for input is April 29, 2016. You must be aware that this whole process you have just used is a complete violation of the protocols for valid consultation with First Nations in Canada, according to relevant case law precedents from the Supreme Court of Canada, and other levels of the justice system across Canada.

In other parts of Canada, in regards to Aboriginal Rights and Duty to Consult, “provincial governments take Indigenous Peoples seriously,” said Bruce McIvor, a lawyer for Elsipogtog First Nation, at a community meeting on April 21, 2016. “I work across the country. Here in New Brunswick, I feel like we are starting back talking in the 1950’s or 1960’s. I talk to people here and say, ‘Yeah, this is crazy!’ I think New Brunswick must be the ultimate political,legal backwater for Indigenous People, and that’s a sad thing. No one wants that.”

As a result of oversights, or perhaps blind spots, such as this, the taxpayers of this province are in imminent danger of being forced to bear the enormous burden of lengthy Aboriginal rights litigation – which New Brunswick will lose!

Perhaps you will decide to extend the deadline for input for First Nations, as was done by the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing (NBCHF), when their procedural errors were brought to their attention. But, to make your process valid, the “Water Strategy” process may need to be shut down and begun again, anew, bringing First Nations to the table at the very beginning. There may be other requirements as well, such as capacity building, but we will leave these to First Nations to elaborate as appropriate.

It is not only Indigenous people in New Brunswick who are ignored by the provincial government. The Final Report of the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing also speaks at length about “one of the core findings,” which is New Brunswickers’ “distrust of public institutions runs deep.” Specifically, see page 6: “The government’s water monitoring record has caused rural residents to distrust government officials’ assurances that it can adequately monitor a new industry.”

10365325_10152019730915044_2920419361752507464_o

Local Resident who Loves the Water, photo credit Nancy Alcox

The Government of New Brunswick has consistently demonstrated that it does not value having adequate review, inspection and enforcement capacity.

You do not have enough trained staff in the civil service. You always rely on industry to police itself, which is like allowing the fox to guard the henhouse. We saw this over and over again during the year (2013) when we endured the invasion of the seismic exploration for shale gas drilling locations by SWN Resources Canada. We also see this when someone cuts through the river bank to create a place to load and unload their yacht. We see this when we complain about herbicide spraying that does not conform with the regulations.

It is clear to us that the government does not even seem to value this role in its bureaucracy. This was clear when the government fired, without cause, the one person in the civil service whom ordinary New Brunswickers trusted to protect the public’s health and our environment: Dr. Eilish Cleary, the former Chief Medical Officer of Health. Her departure has slowed progress on important environmental policy research for the people of this province, and many people here in Kent County believe this was the real reason she was fired. This has only heightened our distrust of how government acts – how government seems to have higher regard for corporate goals than ordinary peoples’ health.

This past Fall, we understand that the Director of Fish and Wildlife was put on leave from his position in the Department of Natural Resources. In that position, he actually had the personnel, resources and authority to try to protect wildlife during industrial review processes. His closest investigatory staff may also have been put on leave or moved. When the former Director was called back to work, he was put on a completely different job. Shortly after that, the permit to proceed with Sisson Brook was approved. A cross-check with the independent “Summary” report cited above shows there are many reasons why it would have been very inconvenient to have a wildlife champion in the bureaucracy when that permission was issued.

Returning for a moment to Dr. Cleary and the NBCHF: before being removed from office, Dr. Cleary made a cogent, well-researched plea for an overhaul of the industrial proposal review process used by the Government of New Brunswick. She recommended that the more comprehensive and independent “Health Impact Assessment” (HIA) be adopted in lieu of the current Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process. New Brunswick’s EIA process relies on corporate identification of issues, and does not have adequate scope to consider impacts on the range of determinants relevant to population health.

The NBCHF, which was clearly subjected to corporate pressures, supported the HIA proposal. The NBCHF watered down Dr. Cleary’s proposal in their final report, proposing that the HIA could come under the umbrella of the EIA process. Dr. Cleary had specifically proven that the HIA approach is broader,offers superior protection for human and environmental health, and is inclusive of the EIA mandate. So the NBCHF got it the wrong way around, but did support the idea.

Consider as well that the HIA process was also favourably reviewed in the independent “Summary” report about Sisson Mine.

So, the HIA proposal was brought to government three times in one year! Each time it was brought by people hired by the Government of New Brunswick to protect the public’s interest and wellbeing. Your government has not taken any position on the implementation of the HIA, relative to relying solely on the more limited and corporately-biased EIA. This is yet another way it is clear, to those of us watching, that you do not really care what happens to small people in rural areas that are viewed as sacrifice zones by industry and their allies.

Further, we are concerned that your government has historically not put enough resources into effective implementation of policies such as that being discussed in this Strategy. Without the money to inspect and enforce, the policy will be meaningless.

In summary, we simply have no basis to believe that there is any substance to the rhetoric in your “fact sheet” on Working towards a Water Strategy for New Brunswick: Programs and Approvals.

11246598_675108832590091_1546049113478700373_o

The Trees are Wearing their Coloured Jewels to Impress the Water

Watershed Designation, Protection and Related Issues

We note that you have combined several distinct watersheds in our region into one called Northumberland Strait Composite.

  • At least seventeen (17) rivers and tributaries in Kent County are lumped together in this one watershed “Level 1” region. Most of these are not connected.

  • There are at least seven (7) different watersheds (pg 2) that have been locally identified.

  • It is difficult to tell by the information provided, but it may be the case that our Level 1 region has the largest number of rivers of any single Level 1 watershed identified on the “Water Strategy” map.

  • Certainly Kent County is in the region of the province that, in this decade, has been most severely under resource extraction industrial pressure opposed by area residents.

We are concerned about the underlying reasons for lumping together all our waterways into one super-sized watershed. Elsewhere in the “Water Strategy” document it is made clear that a significant purpose of this policy development is to facilitate a balancing of “environmental conservation and economic activities” and to “manage and use water responsibly… while allowing economic opportunities.” For those of us using the land and the waters in this county, for part or all of our livelihoods, the various rivers are not interchangeable. We would be more comfortable with smaller watershed areas that reflect local use patterns.

429941_10151640716400932_2122064261_n

Manifestation, Saint-Louis-de-Kent, Juin 2013

 

There is no Planet B.

No one is making drinking water. The climate will not heal on its own. Our generation has to turn things around. That means you need to show leadership: real leadership, not the appearance of leadership.

Despite the urgency, we are asking you to start this consultation over again. Without a hidden agenda, without narrow and/or meaningless questions, without your own ideas of how you want to do things, please invite the Indigenous, rural and urban people of New Brunswick to tell you what we want you to do to protect our water, and how we want you to do it. Then draw up your plan, and share the ideas with us before legislating.

It is very hard for us here in Kent County to trust a slick package of materials like this, with such a rush-rush series of meetings, and so little actual content to any of it. Regarding protection of the environment, most Kent County citizens have seen too much evidence of too little concern by your government. From our perspective, it usually seems the provincial government is listening far too closely to corporate industrial demands. You do not seem to pay enough attention to the urgencies and needs of common humble people in communities like those here in our area.

In the final analysis, the effectiveness of any government policy, including the case in point – this emerging Water Strategy – will be determined by your commitment to make it strong and comprehensive, and your will to enforce it. The resources provided to this initiative, and the behind-the-scenes guidance given by management to operations personnel, will determine whether or not even the best policy will succeed at its stated goals. Above all we need transparency and accountability.

Something you may want to consider is that, in other jurisdictions, young people have begun taking their governments to court for allowing the environment to be destroyed. They know their futures are in the hands of today’s governments.

Respectfully yours, on behalf of future generations,

Ann Pohl, Chairperson, Council of Canadians – Kent County Chapter
with: Debra Hopper and Denise Melanson, Council of Canadians – Kent County Chapter

copies:
Premier Brian Gallant
Council of Canadians – Atlantic Region network
New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
New Brunswick Environment Network
Kenneth Francis, Kopit Lodge, EFN
Chief Arren Sock, EFN
Wolastoq Grand Council
Chief Candace Paul, St. Mary’s FN
Mr. Charles Murray, Ombudsman, Province of New Brunswick
The Hon. Minister Ed Doherty, Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs

TO COMMENT ON THIS, please email us at <coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com>, we do not have enough people power to handle comments on our blog space and do all the other stuff!  

Remarks to the Hon. Brian Kenny, the Most Important Cabinet Minister in New Brunswick Government

On March 2, 2016, 17 member groups in the New Brunswick Environment Network (NBEN) attended a 1.5 hours meeting with Brian Kenny, Minister of the Environment for New Brunswick, and three of his senior staff. Thank you to NBEN’s Mary Ann Coleman and Raissa Marks for organizing this opportunity for an exchange of information and issues.

Major items discussed included: how “regional planning” might help with environmental protection (eg. through increased mandates to the regional service district committees); water protection legislation – including wetlands, and enforcement of riparian buffer regulations; the Environmental Trust Fund; and, the urgency of climate action and moving on to renewables.

During this session, the Ministerial staff set out their current major priorities and here is what I recorded from their remarks in approximate order of urgency:

  • modernizing municipal legislation (now 50 years old apparently)
  • updating the regulations associated with this legislation
  • working with other departments to define priorities and capture these in “statements of interest”
  • a comprehensive water strategy
  • improvements to wetlands policies

Concurrent with all that is making the department’s work more transparent, and various digital information enhancements that are already underway.

While looking at this list, it is important to remember that Brian Kenny is Minister for the Environment AND Local Government (one department). On reflection, it appears that they are putting their eggs in the basket of local government as their approach to improving protection of the environment. An interesting idea – not adequate certainly, but might well help if done properly. A lot can be accomplished through land use planning tools if used properly. So folks, if you want to make a point on municipal or regional planning systems, policies, issues, concerns, etc. — now’s the time!

DSCN1536

I took this photo so am not in it. That’s the Minister at the head table, on the left in front of the screen. I attended on behalf of the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians. As always, when I have the chance to speak truth to power, I think about which of my closest allies are not “At this Table,” and what they might like me to communicate that seems appropriate to the situation.

Here is a picture of me and my confrere Mark D’Arcy who attended on behalf of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians. image
Mark used his allotted time to speak about climate change issues and the need for the Government of New Brunswick to do its own EIA on the Pipeline proposal. Mark strongly emphasized the Minister’s Duty of Care in regards to the possibly serious, even lethal, risks related to both these issues. This photo was taken by Caroline Lubbedarcy, who represented Stop Spraying in New Brunswick, and used her alloted time to press for a full review of health and environmental hazards of herbicide spraying by forestry companies and NB Power, as well as an end to the spraying.

It is also important to mention Jim Emberger was present, speaking on behalf of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance. He addressed many of the points included in NBASGA’s Statement on the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing Report, including the lack of social license, the science case against fracking, and the urgency of NB government undertaking nation-to-nation relationship-building with First Nations . Later in the meeting, Jim spoke about the importance of government recognizing that each region of the province is very different, something he has learned through NBASGA.

Unfortunately, none of our Indigenous environmental protection allies were present. For me, a smudge and a reading of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth would have been a welcome addition. Next time?

In the order of our NBEN agenda, I was given the opportunity to make the final presentation, before the wrap-up. Following are my remarks…


 

“The Final Report of the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing, released last week, speaks of the distrust, mistrust, and alienation of New Brunswickers regarding our provincial government. The Commission heard this loud and clear in Kent County.  In fact, Commission members seemed to stop in their tracks and feel overwhelmed by our perspectives here, about how government has betrayed us.  (∗ : in the footnote on this post are links to submissions that prove this sentiment.)

“Another example of that betrayal connects to something that was discussed at the outset of this meeting today. Our Kent Regional District Service Commission passed resolutions unanimously opposing the new Forestry Management Act, and opposing Shale Gas Fracking Exploration in Kent County (actual vote 15-1 abstention, I believe). But, Mr. Minister, as you know, there is no systemic pathway for resolutions from the Service Districts into the government here in Fredericton. The fact that the Government of New Brunswick totally ignored the only local body that represents our municipalities and local service districts contributed mightily to our sense that government deserted us to our fate of being a “Sacrifice Zone” for resource extraction industries.

“I am going to assume that you, Mr. Minister, and your three staff at the head table, have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, perhaps godchildren… When thinking about the future they will face, it is clear and evident that your Ministry is the most important department in the Government of New Brunswick.

“At the core of your mandate is ensuring environmental sustainability in this province we all love. You have the tools and responsibilities for all manner of impact assessment, regulatory powers, inspection and enforcement services, in order to protect our environment. There is a huge urgency to bring all these into active service due to the ecoapocolypse that is lurking over our shoulders due to our rapidly deteriorating, changing climate.

“For us in Kent County, your department certainly has the most urgent and important mandate in this government:

  • We love our Acadian Forest, and all its inhabitants.  We want our Forest Relations to survive and thrive. This means stopping the rapacious clear-cutting, the softwood plantations, and the spraying of poisonous herbicides.
  • We want water protection legislation for our fresh drinking water, our inland fisheries, and our precious wetlands.
  • We want shale gas mothballed for the long term by legislation. Your department’s mandate re: “impact” and “sustainability” strengthen your hand at arguing this in cabinet.
  • We are passionate about biodiversity. The diversity of wildlife in our region — the forests, the waters, and the soils — contributes directly to the livelihoods of virtually everyone in Kent County, all the way down in scale to the bees we rely on to pollinate our fruits and vegetables in our gardens — so take a look at the neonicotinoids as well, please.
  • We fully support implementation of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) process, proposed by the former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eilish Cleary to the NB Fracking Commission. The Commission endorsed this approach but in an inappropriate and ineffectual manner. An HIA trumps an EIA, and as Dr. Cleary pointed out, the current EIA processes will and can be addressed and included within the broader scope of the HIA process she outlined. This is what we want to see. It will begin to restore our confidence that government is capable of looking after us over here in Kent County.

“On behalf of our group, the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians, and all our united Mi’kmaq, Acadian and Anglo environmentalist allies in Kent County, I beg that you hear what I am saying. There is no time to lose on these matters. Please instruct your staff to walk into all interdepartmental meetings — and you, please,Minister Kenny, walk into all Cabinet meetings — with your heads held high, insisting on full implementation of the environmental protections your broad mandate offers.

“Yours is the most important Ministry in the New Brunswick government. Our future generations are depending on you.”

Ann Pohl, Chairperson, Council of Canadians – Kent County Chapter, March 2, 2016

 

 

DontPanicalltreatypeople

∗ See for example: “Powerless Citizen” and “Illusion of Certainty”,  Some of the Human Rights Issues Related to Fracking , Lise Johnson’s Story, No Shale…, Kent County Chapter Council of CanadiansNotre environnement, notre choix / Our Environment, Our ChoiceYvon Daigle’s Submission to the Commission, The Requirement to be InformedIt’s about Trust, To Make Critical Decisions, We Must Employ Critical Thinking, Personal Submission to the Shale Gas CommissionGroupe de développement durable du Pays de Cocagne Sustainable Development Groupe.

Question: is there a Conflict of Interest in the NB Commission on Hydro-Fracking?

Some Questions about the Legitimacy of the NB Fracking Commission

KENT NOT FOR SHALE

1   About the McLaughlins 

A man named Andrew McLaughlin was recently hired by Major Drilling. According to their website, Major Drilling “is one of the world’s largest drilling services companies primarily serving the mining industry,” and “provides all types of drilling services including surface and underground coring, directional, reverse circulation, sonic, geotechnical, environmental, water-well, coal-bed methane and shallow gas.” Sounds like this Andrew McLaughlin is closely associated with deep shale fracking operations.

Here’s the question: is Andrew the son (or other close relation) of John McLaughlin, the man who is the Chair of the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing? Someone told me Andy is John’s boy. Mind you, I did not want to believe that Premier Brian Gallant’s Fracking Commission could be skewed in favour of the fracking industry, who are known for their “drill, baby, drill” practices because that is the only way to make deep shale extraction possible. So, what’s the scoop on this?

2   About Major Drilling

The CEO and President of Major Drilling is Francis McGuire, the former Deputy Minister of Business NB and former head of NB Power during the failed attempt to sell NB’s electric system to Quebec. Here is some background info about Francis and his commitment to Major Drilling. This man seems to be motivated by money and the gambling challenge of private industry, at the cost of anything else perhaps…

For starters, Francis’ debacle on the NB Power sell-off issue makes it clear the man has no idea about the significance of “social license.” Now, he is not in government any longer, so a person might say he does not need to be concerned with social license issues, UNLESS he is flouting the integrity of the NB Fracking Commission by hiring someone who can use family connections to make sure the Commission comes up with the recommendation to proceed with fracking.

Here are the questions: Assuming for a moment that Andrew IS John’s son, and I have no way of knowing this for sure but someone told me he is, then which came first: the chicken or the egg? Did Andrew get hired by Major Drilling to sway the Fracking Commission, or did Andrew know the Fracking Commission will recommend lifting the Moratorium so he took this job to be in the right place at the right time? Or both perhaps?

3   About Frank McKenna

Frank McKenna, former Premier of our province, is a huge booster of fracking in New Brunswick. Frank is also buddy-buddy close with Francis McGuire.

Frank’s 2014 speech in Saint John is probably the best synopsis of his real views on the topic. He not only thinks shale gas fracking is the salvation of the province, he also derides the idea of listening to shale gas opponents, calling us an “extremely vocal, anti-fracking minority” and “blowhards” who “seize control of the agenda” using “mob rule.”

Here are the facts on the matter of whether those of us who oppose fracking are a minority. In all surveys done to date and released to the public, our province’s population is split just about 50-50 on the simple topic of shale gas extraction industrial development. However, as soon as the question is complicated with balancing this development against the priority of protecting our environment, the environment has won in all public opinion surveys. In one memorable one during the Alward government, more than 80% of the population said they would not support shale gas development if it could negatively affect the natural environment. We all know it is absolutely impossible to “do” shale gas without damaging the environment.

On November 5 2015, Frank spoke at a business conference in Saint John. Not normally a patient man, he is quoted as saying that the fracking moratorium (the same one he abhorred in 2014) is now fine with him. “When it comes to the provincial fracking moratorium,” he “is satisfied” with “the process,” and says we (industry) just “need to be patient.”

Here are the questions: Is Frank patient now because he knows his crony Old Boys network already has the fix in? Does this seem like a logical conclusion for Frank to reach, because of the direct line between Frank and Francis at Major Drilling, especially as it seems that Andrew may be the son of NB Fracking Commission Chair John? Or is there some other reason Frank all of a sudden feels the Fracking Commission is doing a fine job?

4   About the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing’s Work

The thing is, the Government of New Brunswick (GNB) just took a gigantic step backwards on gaining social license for any industrial activities that could have or will have negative impacts on health and environment. In December, GNB fired for “no cause” the one person in the entire civil  service that the medical community and grassroots communities knew we could trust to speak the truth about whether provincial policies were good for people and the environment that sustains us. I am speaking of our former exemplary Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eilish Cleary. So, like many others, I am in a state of hyper-vigilance about what GNB has up their sleeves next.

As Cheryl Robertson, the member of the Fracking Commission who does their folksy communicating, has posted on their website, “one of the core findings of our work” is that “distrust of public institutions runs deep” among New Brunswickers. Good one, Sherlock! She continues, “There is anger, frustration and a strong sense of weariness on all sides…”

Here are the questions: given the obvious pro-fracking standpoint of Major Drilling can the Government of New Brunswick set to rest the questions that are floating around right now, about whether Andrew McLaughlin may or may not be directed related to the Commission’s Chair John McLaughlin? If this suggested malfeasance is indeed true, can the Fracking Commission Chair explain how this is compatible with the Commission’s online Code of Conduct? Is this perhaps a true conflict of interest? Was it declared? If it was declared, where and when? And even if it was declared, does that make it right?

 

It is an unfortunate thing when a citizen of this province is forced to address
a major issue like this one in an online blog, simply asking questions…
From my standpoint, if this is confirmed, it totally justifies the public’s
deep distrust of GNB, and would be one more nail in the coffin of social license.

images

— Ann Pohl wrote this on February 1, 2016 —

NB CMOH Dr. Cleary’s staff will be researching effects of RoundUp, Vision, and other glyphosate herbicides

stop-the-spray-not-safe-not-effective-not-necessaryOn August 14 2015, Dr. Eilish Cleary — Chief Medical Officer of Health for NB –responded to some of the points raised in our August 4th Kent County NB Council of Canadians communication to her. In this document, we addressed multiple concerns about the use of glyphosate herbicide sprays on agricultural crops and in our crown forest reserves.

Dr. Cleary concurs that the sprays are probable carcinogens. She has committed that her staff will be doing further research on the level of risk and what steps might need to be taken to protect the public. She expressed that her staff will pay particular attention to the point we raised regarding the high incidence of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma among men in NB, and the finding from the World Health Organization’s IARC panel that this might well be related to the widespread use of these herbicides in our province.  FYI, here is our follow-up letter to Dr. Cleary…

September 24, 2015
coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com

Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
HSBC Place, P. O. Box 5100
Fredericton, NB E3B 5G8
transmitted by email to: Eilish.Cleary@gnb.ca

Re: Follow-up on your August 14 2015 communication regarding
Glyphosate-based Herbicides and Health/Environmental Concerns

Dear Dr. Eilish Cleary:
At our September 9 2015 meeting of the Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of
Canadians, we discussed the correspondence we received back from you in response to our 5-page letter (dated August 4) about glyphosate herbicides. I was asked by our
members to share the following with you.

We deeply appreciate that you are going to look into the points we have raised regarding the human and environmental health risks of glyphosate herbicides. We fully understand that it will take some time to conduct this research and then to reach conclusions on what steps the NB Department of Public Health may feel are necessary to protect the public.

In the interim period, however, our members and other residents of Kent County
communities, as well as other New Brunswick residents, are potentially put at risk. This is especially true for those who live and/or work near areas that get sprayed. Examples that have been mentioned to us include: men cutting wood and seeing the lot
next to them get sprayed, with no warning; a farmer’s field where the crop was sprayed to dry it up, and seeing flock after flock of migrating geese land in this field to eat the grain; forest areas with many berries is sprayed, but people still go to the woods to pick berries and such right after the spray, – this occurs before the die-off begins, so they do not know see the warning evidence that the area has already been sprayed.

Compliance is another concern. Someone mentioned that a field near her home was
sprayed and she was concerned so she checked the regulations. The spraying was too
close to residences and also to a watercourse. This raises the issue of how one assesses dangers or risks: by what is supposed to be done, or what is actually done?
In addition there is a general feeling that the “warning” signs that are posted are too small and often not located in a publicly visible area. The purpose of these signs is to alert the public that this spray is on the ground and people should use deep precautions.

As well, some new information has become available about these chemicals during the
past six weeks.

Our members feel strongly that, based on what is already known, in the interim you could recommend better, larger, more visible posting of warning signs both for forestry and for agricultural uses. As well, advance notice of spraying on hydro lines and in forests should be hung in public locations such as pharmacies, convenience stores, post offices, and other places where there are local bulletin boards. These maps could also be posted online and promoted through social media.

We look forward to seeing your report when it is done. Thanks for taking our concerns
seriously.

Respectfully yours,
<signed>
Ann Pohl
Chairperson, Kent County NB Chapter, Council of Canadians

gerrybanner2

NBASGA letter to Minister Danny Soucy – re: AIS EIA application 1390, to dump fracking waste water in Dieppe

New Brunswick Anti Shale Gas Alliance, Inc.
jimemberger@yahoo.com

September 1, 2014
Hon. Danny Soucy, Minister of Environment and Local Government
Marysville Place, P O Box 6000
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1
danny.soucy@gnb.ca

Re: EIA Application 1390

Dear Minister Soucy:

I am writing on behalf of the New Brunswick Anti Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA ) to comment on the application for Environmental Impact Assessment review by Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS). The proponent proposes to dispose of “flowback” waste water from unconventional hydraulic “fracking” operations into the sewer system that serves Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview. From there it will travel into the Petitcodiac River, and subsequently disperse into the Bay of Fundy, travelling up and down with the tides until eventually it flows out of the Bay.

I will mention a few overarching points and then raise a number of issues that are of major concern to the many New Brunswickers who are part of NBASGA. For more information about NBASGA and what we stand for, I invite you to view our website at http://www.noshalegasnb.ca/.

1.  Under the Clean Environment Act – Regulation 87-83, specifically Schedule A; Undertakings 87-108.m, there appears to be an absolute requirement – i.e. an automatic trigger by legislation – for a full, public Comprehensive EIA Review in regards to any industrial project that includes a waste disposal system.

2.  I realize your department is at a preliminary stage with Application 1390, but so far your department has not been forthcoming about engaging the multiple parties that would be brought into this comprehensive public review. It is my understanding that the City of Dieppe only received a copy of the proponent’s proposal from a concerned private citizen, about two months after the application was filed with your department. Further it is my understanding that the communities of Moncton and Riverview, who share a water/sewage system with Dieppe, only learned about Application 1390 from the media coverage of the August Dieppe City Council meeting where this was discussed. These procedural shortcomings suggest a reluctance to fully disclose to key partners, which is not at all in the spirit of the legislation.

3. Please take this as official notice that NBASGA wants to be involved and informed at every stage of this application. We look forward to having some of our following questions and concerns addressed through the mandated Comprehensive EIA Review process.

4.  Something does not add up properly: the proposed facility has only been granted a six month license to operate in this location, while the proposal calls for approximately three years of work. It has been said that this facility was out of operation for a period of time before Application 1390 was developed. To address public concerns, more information is required on the equipment at the site, the operational condition of the facility at the site, and the reason the licence is only valid until November 6, 2014.

Now I will turn to other details that are of great concern to NBASGA members.

5.  What are the Government of New Brunswick’s standards, processes and technology for assessing and monitoring the accumulation of low-level radioactivity and/or toxicity in bodies of water to which industrial effluent has been added? Please point us in the direction of these standards or if they are not yet in place, please advise when they will be.

6.  Apparently, there has never been any independent testing of the supposedly “treated” wastewater that is being held in Nova Scotia, as AIS awaits a decision on this application. AIS always took the samples and submitted the samples themselves.  The history of dealing with the troublesome wastewater produced by fracking is replete with examples of companies evading or breaking regulatory requirements. NBASGA is not accusing AIS of any such actions, but we note that the history of this wastewater shows that the company did not initially disclose the nature of radioactive and toxic contents of wastewater to the municipal sewage treatment systems with whom it was working in Nova Scotia. Will New Brunswick authorities require an independent, arms-length third party retest of this water prior to the application being approved to begin transporting it to Dieppe?

7.  How can we be certain that the chemicals being tested by AIS or anyone else constitutes the complete list of chemicals used in those particular fracking operation mixtures that created this wastewater?

♦  First, trade secrets often overrule public interest, so that the precise cocktail of chemicals used is often unknown to anyone but the fracking company.

♦  Second, when chemicals combine they can often combine to become something else, perhaps more sinister than the original compounds.

  Third, from the document, OUT OF CONTROL: Nova Scotia’s Experience with Fracking for Shale, we see that of the chemicals that were identified by AIS many have toxic or carcinogenic properties.

•  Of the 22 identified chemicals used in Hants County: two are known to adversely affect reproduction; eight are potential mutagens; eight are potential carcinogens; and eleven have the potential to cause adverse effects to ecological integrity.

•  Of the 31 identified products (chemical mixtures) used in Hants County: five are associated with adverse effects on reproduction; five contain potential mutagens; eight contain potential carcinogens; and eight can cause adverse ecological impacts.

•  In the five years that this water has been sitting open to the elements in Nova Scotia holding ponds, the chemicals have been diluted by water, potentially mixed with other wastewater or had time to break down. Is the complete list of fracking chemicals originally in the wastewater known? Are they toxic? Have any combined to form new hazardous compounds?

 How will the province of New Brunswick assure the public that the complete composition of all chemicals in each load of wastewater is known prior to its transport, and that the proponent actually has the industrial capacity to treat and remove all these dangerous substances from that load of wastewater?

8.  On standards and radioactivity: One reason why Nova Scotia originally refused the wastewater was due to the level of radioactivity. Dieppe has no standards for radioactivity in its by-laws. Canadian federal standards have not been updated for decades although more stringent guidelines are coming into effect for municipal treatment plant shortly – raising the additional question of will the water still meet the stipulations of those guidelines? If not, what happens then? While regulations have not kept pace, during recent decades much scientific research has been done on the negative cumulative effects of low-level radiation. Peer reviewed studies done in Pennsylvania have found that treated fracking wastewater often still exceeded US radioactivity standards.  What will New Brunswick do in terms of research and testing to address these concerns?

9.  What went wrong in Nova Scotia and why is there such urgency for disposal? In the EIA application, the rationale for the project hinges on the holding ponds at Debert being full, and AIS being uncertain of the success of an experimental project which saw two million litres diverted for “incineration” at a NS cement plant in NS. As they have completed the test of two million litres, should we assume the urgency to dispose of water in Dieppe means this was unsuccessful? We can guess that the two million litres delivered by AIS to the Lafarge Cement Kiln at Brookfield for experimental disposal apparently did not work as planned, as Lafarge didn’t take any more.  Does this mean that it could not be scrubbed of hazardous chemicals even using this process? Why did this experiment not work? Is the reason the same as the reason that Nova Scotia municipalities continue to refuse to accept the wastewater? This is important information that must be disclosed so that the public can feel a reasoned decision is being made based on good science. Also, has the urgency of this request and the amounts of wastewater actually been verified?

  If the wastewater contains any contaminants or radioactivity, the tidal bore would take some of the waste upriver as far as Salisbury and leave any radioactive particles or residue chemicals in the muddy banks along the way. The same situation applies to downriver.  Halls Creek and all tidal streams will be affected. As the process continues, any chemicals and radioactive particles will gradually accumulate over time, becoming more toxic and threatening aquatic life. All these communities and the people who live in them are entitled to the full disclosure and engagement process offered by a Comprehensive EIA Review.

  Who will pay? Some of these tests take several weeks, and that is just one factor that makes the essential independent, arms length testing expensive. So, of course as taxpayers, we would like to know who will pay for it? Keeping things safe costs a lot of money, so there is a lot of incentive for companies to do as little as possible and to weaken regulations as much as possible. That is why we must remain cautious and vigilant.

  Protecting the unique Bay of Fundy environment, on which many, many Maritimers rely for their livelihood: We believe that The Nova Scotia Department of Environment stated that they would not approve release of wastewater to an aquatic environment until tests had been done in the particular environment in question, which in this case is the Bay of Fundy. Clearly N.S. had its reasons for saying this, so I ask if your government has undertaken or commissioned such testing?

 In view of all the serious issues we have raised, we ask that you immediately make the determination to require Proposal 1390 to undergo a full, public Comprehensive EIA Reviewed due to the human health and environmental considerations arising from the intended activity.

We also ask that you invite the Chief Medical Officer of Health or her departmental designate to join this Comprehensive EIA Review as a lead partner. We make this request because of the very deep concerns she expressed about human health impacts of these industrial effluents, and the province’s capacity shortfall to deal with this matter, in her report Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick (October 2012).

Thank you for your consideration of these points. NBASGA looks forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely yours,

Jim Emberger, Spokesman,  New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance

copied to:

  • Scott Sangster, Director of Health, Safety & Environment, Envirosystems (AIS) SSangster@envirosystems.ca
  • Gary Drescher, Project Manager, Dillon Consulting GDrescher@dillon.ca
  • Shawn Hamilton, Project Manager, Environmental Assessment Section, Department of Environment and Local Government Shawn.Hamilton@gnb.ca
  • Dr. Eilish Cleary, NB Chief Medical Officer of Health Eilish.Cleary@gnb.ca
  • Karen White, Director, Healthy Environments, Health Karen.White@gnb.ca
  • Hon. David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick David.Alward@gnb.ca
  • Hon. Craig Leonard, Minister of Energy and Mines Craig.Leonard@gnb.ca
  • Stephanie Merrill, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, water@conservationcouncil.ca
  • Anita Cannon Conservation Council NB Southeast, ccnbsoutheast@gmail.com
  • Margo Sheppard, Council of Canadians, Fredericton, NTNB1@bellaliant.net
  • Angela Giles, Council of Canadians Atlantic Region, agiles@canadians.org

also copied to Moncton Municipal Government:

also copied to Dieppe Municipal Government:

also copied to Riverview Municipal Government:

also copied to Members of NBASGA (shaleinfo.nb@gmail.com):

  • Clean Energy Sussex
  • Concerned Citizens of Penobsquis
  • Cornhill and Area Residents Assn
  • Council of Canadians, Saint John
  • Darlings Island
  • Kent South No Shale Gas
  • Hampton Water First
  • Memramcook Action
  • Notre Environnement, Notre Choix
  • Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance
  • Sustainable Energy Group
  • Tantramar Alliance Against Hydro-Fracking
  • Taymouth Environmental Action
  • Upper Miramichi Stewardship Alliance
  • Upriver Environment Watch
  • Water and Environmental Protection for Albert County

Ann Pohl’s Response to Minister Soucy’s June 12th reply to her May 26th submission on Unfair Process and other public interest issues re: 4 SWN EIAs

June 19, 2014
Hon. Danny Soucy, Minister, Environment and Local Government
Marysville Place, P O Box 6000, Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1
danny.soucy@gnb.ca

Re: EIA Applications 1381, 1382, 1383, 1384

Dear Minister Soucy:

The second paragraph of your letter recalls Premier Alward’s January 2014 State of the Province address, in which he said, “I want to be crystal clear, we are supportive of shale gas…” and we are “aggressively pursuing” shale gas industrial development. In your next paragraph, you say “I can assure you there is no intent to mislead…” (1)  On the contrary, due to this overriding policy objective, I believe there is a serious attempt to mislead on a number of points.

I suggest it is time to for you, Minister Soucy, as minister responsible for both the environment and local communities, to review your mandate. You oversee two departments and their mandates are environmental protection and the protection of local communities. Therefore, your letter to me should have started by acknowledging that the concerns raised by myself and others are valid, troubling, and substantiated by experiences in a broad diversity of regions (similar and dis-similar to New Brunswick). Rather than cheer-lead for the industry, and attempt to deny, distract and obfuscate, you
should have addressed the points I now reiterate in hope of a more productive response.

  1. As things stand, your department does not have qualified research or policy staff to even anticipate the issues that will arise in this specific region based on other regions’ experiences, nor do you have enforcement personnel with the expertise to monitor this industry. As your much-touted February 2013 “Rules for Industry” document acknowledges right in the preamble (page vi), all these items are among outstanding matters that require government action:
    • Enhancing certification and training requirements for oil and gas operators
    • Monitoring the on-going development of fracturing fluids and technologies
    • Identifying additional wastewater treatment and disposal options
    • Enhancing the provincial water monitoring network
    • Developing a water management strategy for oil and gas development
    • Considering the possible introduction of water use permits
    • Considering expanded ambient air quality monitoring by the Province
    • Establishing an orphan oil and gas well fund
    • Considering the establishment of an enhanced occurrence management system
    • Considering the establishment of a contingency fund to address environmental issues that may occur in future
    • Public Disclosure of Environmental Assessment Information
    • Assessing the Province’s enforcement capabilities
    • Gathering additional scientific information
    • Establishing training requirements for oil and gas operators about New Brunswick’s environmental regulatory regime (2)

    In the past couple of years, you have downsized the Department of the Environment and cut budgets. You have not added expert staff and resources that would enable any real action on these outstanding items. Your technical staff lack the capacity to do ongoing monitoring of pollutants such as radon, NORMs and other hazardous by-products and additives from the sites. How do you intend to hold the proponent accountable for protection of the environment, our communities, our homes and properties, and the health of the public, when the government lacks the skilled personnel required for this “rigorous” protection?

  2. What is the exact relationship between the Technical Review Committee (TRC) partners and invitees, and the Minister’s Office, in regards to decision-making input? In keeping with your government’s commitment to aggressively support and proceed with development of this industry, I am trying to understand two things:
    •     Why have you created such broad and diverse TRC’s? Is this just a public relations gimmick or do the members have power to influence your decision whether or not to approve the proposals in front of you? Can any of these participants, eg. the local governments and local service district committees (who are already on record asking for a stop to exploration and development) or the Chief Medical Officer of Health (who has similarly asked for a halt to all work until much further research is done) influence your decision?
    •     Why are the two most affected and closest First Nations (Elsipogtog and Saint Mary’s) not part of this TRC process?
  3. You are muddying the water with your comment that Phased Reviews have been around for 15 or more years. I am not sure what you are referring to, but attached to the email with which I am forwarding this communication is a PowerPoint produced by your government in early 2011. Its purpose is to inform stakeholders of this new and beneficial Phased Review approach for handling proposals from the shale gas industry.  The “rules” you have created for industry are toothless (based on voluntary compliance and industry self-monitoring). None are legislated and therefore not actually enforceable. In Elgin and Penobsquis it became apparent that Phased Reviews do nothing to help protect the environment. They only seem to benefit the proponents by enabling them to escape comprehensive technical and public scrutiny of their plans. Please answer these questions:
    •     Under the legislation, what is the exact legal standing of a Phased Review Process?
    •     Can a proponent be held responsible for compliance with all recommendations that arise from this process, and if so under what legislation?
    •     Most importantly, why are you using this Phased Review process instead of following the legislative requirement for a Comprehensive Review?
  4. How can you say that the proponent’s proposal does not raise the issue of waste disposal systems as identified in SHEDULE A: UNDERTAKINGS (87-108), which automatically (by law) requires a Comprehensive Review? The proponent mentions several times “flaring” as part of an on-site waste disposal system in this project. In addition, the proponent has failed to propose a system of waste management for the NORMs that may occur in drill cuttings and flow-back fluid in this project. The proponent makes numerous references to waste management “components” that clearly constitute elements of a Waste Management System IN NEED OF DETAILED technical and public REVIEW prior to approval, as defined in 87-108.
  5. In my May 26 2014 submission to you, I point out that the well pads proposed by SWN Resources Canada (SWN) are much bigger than usual for stratigraphic purposes, and that in the Province of Alberta (for example) there is a mandated regulation for a much smaller maximum size for well pads designed for stratigraphic analysis. That Alberta regulation protects the public
    interest by forcing industry to delineate between the stages of exploration and production, and minimizing the impact on the environment while still in the exploratory stage.Your response to me is that “It only makes sense that a proponent would construct an exploration well to a high standard if they are hopeful that they may develop the well further down the road. This way, if exploratory phases are successful and lead to further exploration or even a future proposal for commercial extraction, the proponent may not be required to make extensive modifications to the well or drill a new one because the initial well was not properly constructed for development and production.” Your cavalier rejection of my concerns makes evident the slippery slope of moving from exploration into commercial production WITHOUT ever having any “rigorous” review of the environmental issues at stake and possible/probable
    impacts.

    I am convinced that the intent here IS to mislead the public. The proponent says this development is for stratigraphic analysis. You say the proponent is building much more than is needed for stratigraphic analysis in “hopes” the analysis comes back positive for commercial development, so the infrastructure for commercial development will already be in place. The proponent lays out a plan to build to commercial production standards while nominally doing so supposedly only for stratigraphic purposes. This is endorsed by your comment that doing this only makes sense because the proponent is “hopeful that they may develop the well further down the road… for commercial extraction” – none of which is spelled out in the proposals. By way of example, I doubt your government would approve if I proposed to build a septic system capable of servicing a subdivision on my rural Kent County 11 acre property, and said it was for my new house. The difference is that your government has already decided to facilitate this industry. No matter how much reasoned judgement has to be set aside, or how many loopholes created, that greasing of the wheels of approval seems guaranteed.

    Can you explain to me if you see this differently? Also, why does Alberta have this maximum size regulation for stratigraphic analysis well pads at this exploratory stage and why does New Brunswick not feel it is necessary to protect the public with a similar regulation?

  6. You say the proponent has initiated their public consultation program. When and where are they planning a public meeting in Kent County?
  7. On the matter of the honour of the Crown in regards to First Nations, both of the most directly affected communities (Saint Mary’s and Elsipogtog) have publicly stated that their concerns have not been adequately represented to your government by the third party of the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs of New Brunswick (AFNCNB), and that AFNCNB is not advocating for
    them. Hence, why are these communities not being directly asked for their input to your department during this TRC review period, and – if so required – provided with capacity funding to effectively participate? Also, how can an Environmental Management Plan be assembled without their direct input, as title to the land has never been ceded and it is beyond dispute that First Nation communities have an aboriginal right to care-taking or guardianship of their territories, even of territory that may be considered to be in their domain? Finally, there is the issue of cumulative impact on aboriginal and /or treaty rights from four proposals. Given the expressed concerns from the closest First Nations, has this been considered in the event that
    this matter progresses into court? Surely it would make better sense to provide capacity funding and have a genuine dialogue now?

You say you are “strictly following the rules and regulation”. I say that is how you want to make it appear. You cannot even make a reasonable claim to be strictly doing anything when you are following a recently invented system of toothless guidelines and voluntary compliance that stem from a policy to above all expedite this industry – while you are ignoring 30 years of environmental protection
legislation and Supreme Court rulings.

I look forward to your response to the questions I ask above in points 1 through 7.

Respectfully, for future generations,
<original signed>
Ann Pohl

 

Endnotes
(1) “Alward makes ‘crystal clear’ commitment to shale gas”; http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/alward-makes-crystal-clear-commitment-to-shale-gas-1.2517028

 

(2) Responsible Environmental Management of Oil and Natural Gas Activities in New Brunswick
Rules for Industry, February 15, 2013; http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Corporate/pdf/ShaleGas/en/RulesforIndustry.pdf

Email from Soucy, Hon. Danny (ELG/EGL), Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 2:58 PM, sent to Ann Pohl

Ms. Pohl:

Thank you for your recent e-mail dated May 26, 2014 concerning the EIA Registrations 1381, 1382, 1383 and 1384 for projects proposed by SWN Resources Canada Inc. Please find below responses to the various issues and concerns identified in your e-mail.
I would like to start by saying that our government remains committed to pursuing the safe and responsible exploration and development of our Province’s natural resources. When it comes to natural gas development in particular, addressing concerns and mitigating any potential adverse effects on the environment is of the utmost importance to us. We are convinced that New Brunswick can foster an environmentally safe and economically viable industry, which could help rebuild our province’s economy. The Government of New Brunswick’s approach to the oil and natural gas industry is proactive with rigorous monitoring, inspection, and strict enforcement of the rules.

With respect to your comment that “The well pads proposed by SWN Resources Canada (SWN) are much bigger than usual for stratigraphic purposes. Thus it appears that the proponent, in complicity with your department, is obscuring the true goal of this development…” I can assure you that there is no intent by our government to mislead the public on this front. It only makes sense that a proponent would construct an exploration well to a high standard if they are hopeful that they may develop the well further down the road. This way, if exploratory phases are successful and lead to further exploration or even a future proposal for commercial extraction, the proponent may not be required to make extensive modifications to the well or drill a new one because the initial well was not properly constructed for development and production. This does not change the fact that a proponent cannot know for certain if a commercially extractable resource is there until they complete more exploratory work.

Furthermore, your email makes several references to the “Phased EIA process” and I wish to offer some clarification on this subject. Phased EIA reviews were introduced in the late 1990 to systematically evaluate and review projects, which during their planning phase, cannot be described in their entirety. This approach is also being utilized to review oil and gas well development projects, where previously these were only registered for an EIA once they had reached a commercial extraction stage. Phased reviews were implemented to address the concerns surrounding these activities and to ensure the well pads were sited appropriately, among other things. It is important to highlight that prior to phased EIAs being implemented; the current work being proposed by SWN may have taken place without any public knowledge or consultation.

Subsequent to the SWN projects having been registered with DELG, a technical review committee (TRC) has been assembled and is made up of technical experts from the following agencies: the Department of Environment & Local Government (several staff including the Wellfield Protection Program Officer and 3 Hydrogeologists), the Department of Health (including the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health), the Department of Public Safety, the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Energy and Mines, the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture (including the Provincial Archeologist), the Energy and Utilities Board, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Environment Canada, Kouchibouguac National Park (St. Charles well only), Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Town of Richibucto (St. Charles well only), Village of Rexton (Galloway well only), Regional
Service Commission #6 (Galloway and St. Charles wells), RSC#11 (Pangburn and Bronson wells), RSC#8 (Pangburn well only), Chair of the LSD Cape de Richibucto (Galloway well only), Chair LSD St. Charles (St. Charles well only). The TRC has had the opportunity to review the SWN registration documents and the EIA Project Manager has submitted approximately 100 questions (raised by the TRC) to the proponent for each of their four (4) proposed projects. SWN has responded to the TRC questions and the TRC is currently reviewing the responses to determine if they are satisfactory to address their concerns. The TRC is also in the process of reviewing SWN’s Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and is actively providing feedback.

The proponent has initiated their public consultation program and the government is working towards fulfilling the Crown’s duty to consult with First Nations.

The NB Department of Health is a key member of the TRC and has been forwarded all proponent submissions concerning the four (4) currently proposed well pads. Comments concerning these proposed project activities have been received from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. In addition, the proponent has not proposed an onsite waste disposal system as identified in SHEDULE A: UNDERTAKINGS (87-108); however, they are required to identify an acceptable method of disposing of their waste and must submit a Waste Management Plan which is then reviewed by the TRC prior to the project being approved.

I must emphasize that phased EIA reviews do not change the fact that “if” and “when” the proponent wishes to commercially extract oil and/or gas from a well pad, they are required to obtain an EIA determination prior to proceeding to the commercial extraction phase. I can assure you that, in any case, proponents do not decide whether or not they will be required to register for an EIA nor do they decide the final outcome of a determination review.

This leads me to your question regarding what we consider “intent of commercial production”. I can inform you that when a proponent proposes to extract oil and/or gas, and sell it commercially, that is what we would consider intent of commercial production. Given that the proponent does not know for certain if there is a commercially extractable resource until they conduct more work, a phased review has been implemented. I would also like to address your question with regards to SCHEDULE A: UNDERTAKINGS (87-108) on page 5 of your email. The undertakings listed under Schedule A all require registration and by default undergo a “determination review” as opposed to a “comprehensive review” as mentioned in your email.

I respectively decline you recommendation to direct the proponent to amalgamate their four (4) projects into one application and initiate a comprehensive review. We are strictly following the rules and regulation; the Technical Review Committee is actively working towards identifying any potential concerns related to the projects to ensure these concerns are addressed and mitigated prior to the projects being approved and commencing.

And finally, regarding your second email dated May 26, 2014, DELG staff contacted SWN to determine the time period their online comments site remained open; SWN informed us that when they posted the first public notices about their proposed projects in local newspapers, they had indicated they would accept comments until May 21, 2014. The online comments section on their website was opened on Thursday, April 17, 2014 and was kept open two days longer than announced in their initial public notices, closing on Friday, May 23, 2014.

Unfortunately, SWN did not notice the inconsistent date on the letter sent to residents that live within 1800 m of the proposed well pad sites (May 26th). Even though the website was closed on May 23, 2014 these residents still had other options to express their concerns (via written response or direct email to SWN Resources Canada Inc.).

Furthermore, section 6.0 PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT (page xiii, 3rd paragraph) in our GUIDE TO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT IN NEW BRUNSWICK (GUIDE) indicates that a proponent is required to give stakeholders and the general public 25 days (from the date of public notice of registration) to provide their comments. Given that there are 32 days between April 17, 2014 and May 23, 2014 SWN has met the requirement in the GUIDE.

I believe many of your process-related concerns, including the requirements and details related to Comprehensive EIA reviews, could be addressed and the EIA process clarified further – I invite you to contact Crystale Harty or David Maguire at (506) 444-5382 to set up a convenient time.

Sincerely,
Hon. Danny Soucy
Minister
Environment and Local Government