“It comes down to this: by retreating from that which we oppose, we render lifeless all opportunities for intimacy, and for community. To smile and step away is as fatal to possibility as is brandishing a finger of blame.” Amy Irvine
People who live in rural areas do so because they choose this as a way of life. They value the open spaces, clear air, access to nature, safe and quiet lifestyle. The people of Albert County are no different. We are not willing to sacrifice our community to industrialization.
Time, and time again, we are told that shale gas is the panacea to our economic deficits. Jobs. Prosperity. No ‘proven’ contamination. A stairway to heaven, presumably. In fact, Brunswick News sent a reporter out west to document the rose-clad stories of happy, rich New Brunswickers working in the oil and gas fields.
People who live there have a different story. Here is one woman’s report:
- Companies disregard environmental precautions because fines are cheaper than the cost of adhering to the rules. Workers who report damage or spills know they will lose their jobs.
- After three years of good, clean water, our water suddenly turned foul; citizens had to start paying $100/month for water delivery. No one would admit the supply had been damaged by local drilling.
- Earthquakes and explosions caused by fracking activity. One explosion burned for 3 days.
- Men live and work in camps so they are available at a moment’s notice. Sometimes they work 48 hours straight; many use drugs (cocaine, uppers) to stay awake. Drug tests take place with advance warning, but also a black market in clean urine.
- Companies often shut down and re-open under a new name to avoid scrutiny.
- High wages for menial work results in large, uneducated workforce with an absurd sense of entitlement. The culture is one of disregard and ridicule for anyone concerned with environment.
- complaints are railroaded, stonewalled, or denied. Some companies don’t bother to acknowledge the complaint in the first place. If held accountable, these companies would lose so much money they wouldn’t be able to afford to operate.
- If fracking is supposed to bring jobs to NBers, why are presently employed NBers working in Alberta being offered the positions?
Snapshot of the enviable Fort McMurray region – (from Tar Sands, by Andrew Nikifourk):
- Divorce rates, high school dropouts and spousal abuse among highest in nation. Former Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach called these “the price of prosperity”.
- Average house $600,000; mobile home $300,000; bachelor apartment $1300/month
- 98% of pop say they will retire elsewhere
- 40% workers test positive for cocaine or marijuana
- From 2000 to 2010, 1,285 ONG workers killed (read this Calgary Herald report).
- 5x more drug offenses than the rest of Canada
- 89% higher rate of assault
- 117% higher rate of impaired driving.
- Some employers more tolerant of drug/alcohol abuse because there is no one else to do the job.
- Medical care visits up, emergency rooms full, almost everyone in town knows someone who has cancer, died of cancer, or committed suicide.
- Doctor-patient ratio as high as 1:4500 (World Health Organization recommends 1:600)
- 50,000 temporary foreign workers in Alberta; they are paid less than local workers