Lapierre and the zealots

A colleague of mine had a conversation with Louis Lapierre a few months ago – right after he did what he thought was a thorough and thoughtful review of the shale gas sector and came out with recommendations on how the industry could be developed and environmental impacts minimized.  In that conversation, Lapierre was somewhat surprised at how his colleagues had reacted with indignation to his position on shale gas.  He told his colleague, supposedly, that he was glad he was nearing retirement because  his professional reputation had been hammered.

Maybe he was prescient but I thought about this when I read about his fudging his Phd credentials.   That indiscretion laid dormant for 40 years until he had the temerity to actually come out with a limited support for shale gas development.

Of course he did the right thing.  That kind of thing is completely inappropriate and stepping down from his various positions was his only option.

But it is a warning shot across the bow of anyone that takes a ‘contrarian’ view on shale gas development in this province.

A number of geologists from UNB have come out with limited support for shale gas development.  Not sure if that faculty has different standards but anyone looking to run the province’s energy institute better have zero skeletons in their closet.

Those that support shale gas do so in a very tepid way “we support it if…….”.  Many groups just avoid it all together.  Most politicians are negative.

But those that are against shale gas are anything but tepid.  Many of them are zealots and they are coming for you if you even raise your hand slightly above the fray on this industry.

Good luck.

9 thoughts on “Lapierre and the zealots

  1. I agree. Well put David. The test now will be how government deals with the fallout. Another study is not called for. But doubling down on their own internal capacity to regulate this industry and manage development in an environmentally sustainable way would be a good first move to regain public confidence…

  2. Il y a un grand nombre d’occasions où M Lapierre a rendu une opinion bien payée et où, si quelqu’un avait pu prouver son manque d’expertise, pourtant évidente, quelqu’un aurait pu dire, comme vous M Campbell, que les fanatiques ont sauté sur lui. Ça reflète sur le travail et la personne de Lapierre, pas ses détracteurs.

  3. Just ask David Ganong or Elizabeth Weir what its like to serve on a panel studying a controversial issue and to be baselessly attacked for a finding that does not conform to the views of the ultra-zealots.

    We are at a dangerous point if we say we want to judge issues based on evidence and science but will not acknowledge the uncomfortable truths that come with an evidence-based process. People are entitled to their own opinions, but are not entitled to their own facts.


  4. Actually, David, it was the CBC who broke the story (no wonder Harper wants to cut their funding and thereby diminish their ability to do investigative journalism). Then it was the academic community that was outraged- rightfully so,seeing as their credentials are their careers and their reputations. One bad apple needs to be dealt with. You are correct in that anyone who has followed the negative impacts that the shale gas industry has brought about wherever they have set up shop is very concerned about the impacts on water, air, land and health. What critical thinking individual wouldn’t be? Interesting story on CBC this morning about how one of LaPierrier’s commission results has now been peer reviewed and found to be false.

  5. You are wrongly assuming that Lapierre was somehow set up by shale gas opponents. This issue is driven first and foremost by internal U de M politics. Plus, calling people fighting for clean water “zealots” strikes me as a bit much.

  6. You really could NOT be more wrong. According to the CBC, students of his had been complaining for years, and apparantly ‘finally’ contacted Radio Canada. He had been in his various positions on fracking for OVER a year, had been meeting with the public and NOBODY checked his credentials. A REPORTER checked his credentials, not anybody from the anti fracking side. It would be very interesting to find out what those student complaints were (and WHAT he was teaching).

    And I can tell you from personal experience, you go to Facebook, and ANYBODY that starts saying anything against fracking is immediately branded. These people will research your facebook page and badmouth you to infinity in groups they form which allow NO negative comments on fracking. There is a guy there who is actually co owner of a firm that works in exploration, was even featured on a CBC report, and the language that comes off of his keyboard you would not believe. I can’t even write them here, but you would think it was from a drunken crazed grade eight student. That’s the fault of the moderator, who is SO nice that she doesn’t want to kick people out of the group. He even sent a report to facebook saying that my account wasn’t real so I had to verify it-twice. Apparantly I’m some NB wannabe politician in the NDP or something like that.

    And all this vitriol started when I simply made the factual point that the ‘rules for industry’ the government announced were NOT legislation or regulations, they were only permit conditions-I didn’t even say anything bad about the industry. I finally learned how to simply block their comments, but the slander, insults, and vitriol that comes out of these guys IN the industry is hard to believe. And like I said, this is from a CO OWNER of a company IN the industry, and others who work in the industry. And so far protest has had NO impact on policy, in other words, the people complaining here about fracking have NO political power. Obviously I can’t speak for EVERY commentor on either side, but in the ‘debate’ its VERY clear who is sending ‘warning shots across the bow’. Its interesting though that your headline still works, the ‘zealots’ are those IN the industry, not against it. Given the actions of government you either have to admit that the industry can regulate itself, or else oppose it, because its pretty clear the government has NO intention of making regulations or enforcing them.

    As for Lapierre, I had sympathy UNTIL I read his letter. But everybody knows a ‘scientist’ can be an industry hack as easily as anybody (often more easily). In the anti fracking community NOBODY took him OR the Energy Institute seriously in ANY way. So it certainly wasn’t a ‘vendetta’ or anything. I think you are right NOW, now that this has hit the fan people WILL start checking qualifications, something that obviously should have been done LONG ago, and THAT problem certainly can’t be blamed on protestors. However, there IS still an Energy Institute, and it has a LOT of members, yet I haven’t seen ANY indication that protestors are researching their qualifications. In fact, the reporter actually called the University to ask about his qualifications, and I SERIOUSLY doubt a university would give that information to just anybody, and I even more seriously doubt that any protestors are going to start calling colleges to ask. Your headline and last paragraph are a little, dare I say, zealous.

  7. Just to back up one of the statements, I don’t think anybody in the protest crowd ever even READ his report or recommendations. As soon as he said ‘no moratorium’ that was it, he was out. Like the NBPOwer thing, it IS unfortunate that it has come to such an emotional point, but like the NBPower thing, that is completely the fault of government.

  8. > But those that are against shale gas are anything but tepid. Many of them are zealots and they are coming for you if you even raise your hand slightly above the fray on this industry.

    As I recall, the story was broken September 8 by Radio-Canada. Perhaps you could explain how they are zealots.

    Once the story broke, there was a concerted effort to preserve his standing and reputation, despite what was an unacceptable continuation of tenure in his board positions.

    I have written elsewhere about why this was more than just an “indiscretion laid dormant for 40 years.” What else has he done over the years to preserve and elevate his position?

    Probably the turning point came when he was trotted out in a transparent move to counter the opinions of one of the most respected medical voices in the province, Eilish Cleary.

    The news now that the ‘party line’ guy was an academic imposter is an assault on any of the real scientists he has opposed while supporting his oil & forest industry patrons over his career.

    You should not be defending him. You should be outraged.

    Neither am I a staunch opponent of shale gas (I actually wrote an article defending it conditionally) but I will have no more time for this charlatan.

  9. Just to be fair, I suspect this blogger probably has had experience which may make the ‘zealot’ comment more understandable, but if so, that should be stated. But again, email comments shouldn’t be that indicative of any group-they are individuals. You could have had a blog that said the latest Star Trek movie sucked, and you would get lots of email vitriol, but that doesn’t mean any more than that. All those people in Albert County, in my opinion, have been WAY too nice. Many fought against incredible odds to continue telling their story, that is pretty ‘zealous’ of them, but in a VERY positive way.

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