Stephenville Mi’kmaq woman don’t believe it’s a good idea
STEPHENVILLE The Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band has signed a Letter of Intent with Black Spruce Exploration Corp. effective Sept. 11, 2013.
This agreement provides both entities an opportunity to work together on a number of important issues around the development of the oil and gas sector in western Newfoundland.
Chief Brendan Sheppard said the Qalipu band wants to see prosperity and growth for its members and for the west coast of the province, and at the same time wishes to honour their traditions, history and ensure a safe and stable future for its people.
“That’s why we are constantly seeking to create opportunities for our members and to contribute to the provincial economy and to do so in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. We are glad that Black Spruce is a willing partner to work towards these goals,” he said in a release on the band’s website.
Anne Hart, a Qalipu woman living in Stephenville, is not so sure if this is a good idea and said her view is that not enough is known yet about oil exploration or hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
“I’m not prepared to go either way on this fracking issue as I think there are too many unknowns. Until the experts and government can give us a guarantee our land and environment won’t be destroyed through oil exploration, I can’t support that,” she said.
Hart said this fracking is not happening in the backyard of the people with the oil company and that it’s happening right here, so they’re not concerned about coming in, doing what they want to do and leaving it all behind.
“Are we looking at risking our health for dollars? There is no amount of money in the world worth risking our health and our children’s health,” she said.
In the release on the Qalipu site, David Murray, chief operating officer with Black Spruce Exploration said his company is honoured the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band has stepped forward to work with Black Spruce to develop the energy opportunity of Western Newfoundland.
“Black Spruce takes Qalipu’s willingness to work with our company very seriously and we commit to be responsible stewards of the beautiful resources that are found throughout the region,” he is quoted as saying.
Both parties will work towards an agreement on issues including employment, education, supplier development and environmental protection.
Another release on the band website on Thursday said Sheppard is taking a hands-on approach in his investigation of oil and gas extraction technologies that could potentially be utilized in Western Newfoundland.
He met with key industry stakeholders and attended the various presentations throughout the recent 8th International Symposium on Oil and Gas Resources in western Newfoundland, hosted by the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade.
Sheppard said at the symposium there were more than 20 presentations from industry experts, who spoke on a wide range of topics in relation to oil and gas recovery and how new technologies are constantly emerging to provide for efficiencies and environmental safeguarding.
“We were certainly presented with lots of useful and interesting explanations on shale gas recovery and tight oil production technology, but I found the presentation on the hydraulic fracturing of natural gas in St. John, NB and the presentations on the Green Point Shale of particular interest, as they shed light on best practices that need to be implemented in western Newfoundland,” Sheppard said.
He said as a follow up to the oil and gas symposium he contracted Thomas Murphy from Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research to provide an independent overview of hydraulic fracturing and what might be expected from an emerging industry on the West Coast.
Sheppard said Murphy provided the band council and staff with a technical briefing on the technologies of hydraulic fracturing, risk mitigation planning and a summary of how the state of Pennsylvania balanced the needs of industry with environmental stewardship.
“We will remain proactive in our approach to learning as much as we can about the industry and relay this information to our members in order to make informed decisions,” Sheppard said.