Conservatives asking for six-month wait on fracking ban
SPRINGHILL - Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie feels the province is making a costly mistake by moving quickly to band hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia.
The PC Party leader brought forward a motion last week urging the provincial government to suspend debate on banning fracking for six months so it can respond to concerns on all sides of the issue.
“This issue is bigger than fracking,” Baillie said on Monday. “Whether people know what fracking is or not, banning it is wrong. It’s all about what kind of province we want to have. Are we just going to ban things we’re not used to or are we going to try something new to create new jobs, especially in rural areas?”
Baillie said he’s not in favour of uncontrolled or unregulated fracking and he would not support anything that would cause harm to the environment, but he suggested banning fracking without getting all the information could be a missed opportunity and send the wrong message to industry.
He said the province needs leadership on jobs more than anything - “responsible jobs that are respectful of our environment. You don’t get there by banning new things because you don’t know enough about them.”
The government, he said, took three days to consider fracking before deciding to ban it. He said that sends the message that Nova Scotia is closed for business.
The Tory leader said the Wheeler report suggested there is lots of onshore gas and that as many as 1,500 jobs could be created if hydraulic fracturing were done responsibly. Baillie said Statistics Canada said Nova Scotia lost 9,000 jobs in the last year.
“We have a duty to look at it, we have a duty to try. If we ban it we will never know and that’s a shame,” Baillie said. “Every family in Cumberland County knows someone who is working out west and a lot of those people who are working out west are developing onshore gas, including hydraulic fracturing. If you want a jobs plan for Nova Scotia let them do what they’re doing there, except let them do it here while making sure we get the environmental protections right as well.”
Baillie said he talked to a constituent who works with a company that’s fracking in North Dakota. The company has fracked more than a million wells without any problems. He also spoke to Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall on the issue and was told that fracking has created 35,000 jobs in that province since he became premier. He said new jobs are being created, small towns are seeing growth again and royalties are being invested in schools, hospitals and roads.
“That’s what Cumberland County and Nova Scotia are missing out on,” Baillie said.