If you recall the report the New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer wrote about shale gas industry, you may remember among the grab bag of warnings was that shale gas would bring an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases to New Brunswick. She was worried about the social impacts of man camps that appear to service the oil and gas industry in remote locations.
North Dakota wants people to forgo the man camps and move there permanently. I this is absolutely the right approach. Not only are man camps not particularly nice as places to live, when employment income is sent out of the state, it limits the local economic benefits.
This by the way would be particularly true in a place like New Brunswick where 80 – 90% of all tax revenue is derived from employment income.
So we need to learn from North Dakota and try and attract talented workers and small businesses to move here while simultaneously training our people and identifying SMEs with the capabilities to work in the industry.
Of course, this whole discussion might end up being moot. An article in the Motley Fool magazine recently suggested that SWN’s exploration in New Brunswick and elsewhere recently has been disappointing and they are now moving heavily into an area in Nebraska where the gas is said to be wet. In case you haven’t noticed, they aren’t lining up to explore for natural gas here. Other than the resilient Corridor Resources in the Sussex area, who else is actively looking for oil and gas?
The opponents of shale gas – the real ones – knew this. They don’t a moratorium. They just need the CFOs of drilling companies to google “shale gas” and hit dozens of stories of the resistance in New Brunswick while the Nebraskans and the North Dakotans are welcoming the industry with open arms (for the most part).
At that recent conference in Moncton, Francis McGuire -who’s firm is drilling in the Dakotas – asked if we care more about our land and water than the North Dakotan farmers. I thought that was interesting. What do we know about shale gas that would still make 70-80% of us be resistant while the resistance in areas where the gas is already flowing is much less. Of course there will always be resistance to any kind of oil gas or mining projects but in the main there is broad support in the areas where shale gas is currently in development.
I guess we know something they don’t.