Society Magazine

On Fracking in Newfoundland

Posted on the 13 August 2013 by Seliharris @seliharris
On Fracking in NewfoundlandIt's no huge secret that I'm an anti oil and gas kind of guy; I've been discussing my disdain openly and adamantly for a decade now, at least. From the western dependence on foreign supply, to the wars resulting from that, to the destruction of our fragile planet and it's inhabitants via pollution and other environmental destruction, I'm not sure how anyone can be on the pro side - save the investors of course. I personally think that it's long past time that we pushed towards ending our addiction to the destructive monopoly, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that thought. Unfortunately, however, anyone with the amount of power that the oil and gas monopoly has, getting them to let go of that power will not be easy.
Even as the world is accepting the doom-sayers of man-made climate science, and demanding better from this particular industry to help combat the environmental dangers that we face, 'Big Oil' is unwilling to back down. It continues fighting to keep us all hooked, creating new methods to do so along the way. Their relatively new weapon? Fracking. Natural gas is what we are now being sold, and they are promoting it to us as the new saviour for climate change, and for energy freedoms in the western world. Unfortunately, this cleaner - I use that term very loosely - fuel is still not only extremely dirty, but it is also extremely destructive in it's extraction process - not to mention still a finite resource. I'm not going to spend a lot of time discussing the dangers of fracking, as that information is easily found. You can - I suggest you do - watch documentaries like Gasland part 1 and 2, or Shattered Ground to get an idea what those dangers are. It's worth looking into.
The practice of hydraulic fracturing - fracking - has reached the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador, and so has the surrounding debate. This Province has rich oil and gas reserves, so it's no surprise that companies want to come here and extract, and again no surprise that I'm quite vocal in opposition of it. I realize that many people in this province are making a living within the oil industry, but this 'Natural Gas Revolution' makes zero sense to me. If we're going to shift from 'Big Oil', as many people want, and as the world desperately needs, why in the hell would we switch to 'Big Gas'? It's just mind-blowing to me that we're even considering this, when there are plenty of better alternatives that we can move towards; alternatives that too would create jobs and other economic benefits. Many people, however, are falling for this obvious ploy from the industry to keep the monopoly in tact. Worse, political parties and pundits in the Province are going so far as to use this dirty dangerous tech as a way to refute the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. This behaviour I find worst of all, mostly due to the fact that my disdain toward political games equal my disdain towards 'Big Oil'.
Those who do support fracking - or even tolerate it - all discuss the need of strong regulations; "If we just have strong regulations, all will be fine" most people say. That's all well and good, but there is a flaw in that mindset as well. The fact of the matter is, if anything horrific happens while following the strongest of regulations, business is not held totally accountable for it. Sure, they may pay a certain percentage of the cleanup costs or whatever else they negotiate, but they don't face near enough of a backlash, and it's all because 'they were following regulations'. As much as some want to regulate business, in effort to lessen the chance of something terrible happening, you can't prevent everything, especially in extremely risky business initiatives. To me, the easiest, and best, thing to do is to tell these companies that wish to do risky business, that if anything happens, the company is to be held completely responsible. With regards to fracking, we could say this: 'There are charges of well blowouts, water contamination, and/or induced seismic activity at locations near frack sites. Should any of these things happen, in addition to any unforeseen possibility arising due to the dangerous practice, the company in question will be 100% liable for any damages caused." It's rather simple. If the business is not willing to work under those conditions, then so be it. If they aren't willing to totally accept responsibility for their actions, then so be it. We shouldn't trust them with the resources, if they can't trust themselves with the work.
Where I don't fully value regulations due to the restrictions that come with them, I do realize that many people are thinking about how scary the thought of business self regulating is. I just happen to believe - and am not wrong - consumers and workers are ultimately the ones responsible for reduction of harm. People have to choose better for themselves, and for the betterment of the world - if they indeed want the world to be better; some just want to see the world burn, I realize. Not buying from companies, or even supporting those, who refuse to do business ethically and safely, would do plenty to ensure safe regulations. Companies who wish to compete for business would comply to demands from their consumers in order to ensure they still have people consuming and supporting. If we all choose wisely, the companies that individuals don't choose will in time fail, and better companies that do support people's demands will arise to fill the demand. It's a collection of individual choices that determines where power lies afterall - and moreso if we promoted the principle of adjacency, propelling people who are most affected, like those in local communities, into having the most say in any developments. I think we all need to realize that its all our choices which determines pretty much everything around us, and to start individually taking more responsibility for those choices.
For my personal individual choice, I in no way support fracking, and I certainly will never invest in, or buy, natural gas. With that said, I will indeed respect your personal choices on the matter... but I can't promise I won't argue with you about them.
Image above thanks to ZNEWS

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