On Thursday, December 18, the Minister of Natural Resources of New Brunswick, Hon. Donald Arseneault, introduced Bill 9, An Act to Amend the Oil and Natural Gas Act (the Bill) to the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. The Bill will create a moratorium on all forms of hydraulic fracking in the province of New Brunswick, regardless of whether the process uses water, propane or another substance to extract natural gas from shale rock beneath the earth’s surface. The Bill will also put an end to any fracking projects currently underway in the Province, as no “grandfathering” in of projects will be permitted outside of the moratorium.
The Bill was announced earlier in the day by Premier Brian Gallant, who stated that the purpose of the bill was to stop fracking practices until the effect of such practices on the environment, health and water were better understood. The moratorium will continue in place, according to Premier Gallant, until five conditions have been met. Particularly, the moratorium will not be lifted until:
- a “social licence” for hydraulic fracking is established through consultations between fracking corporations and the community;
- clear and credible information on the impacts on air, health and water are produced so that a regulatory regime can be developed;
- a plan is established to mitigate impacts on public infrastructure and to address issues such as waste water disposal;
- a process is in place to fulfill the Province’s obligation to consult with First Nations; and
- a “proper royalty structure” is developed to ensure that the benefits of fracking are maximized for residents of the Province.
There are currently several companies exploring for shale gas in New Brunswick. According to Premier Gallant, these activities will be permitted to continue under the moratorium, provided that no fracking activity on test wells is undertaken.
New Brunswick is the fourth province to create a moratorium on fracking, along with Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.