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Thu Oct 17, 2013, 11:20 AM

Protectors vs. Destroyers — Canadians Unite To Stop Fracking In New Brunswick

By Sam Koplinka-Loehr

Source: Waging Nonviolence

Thursday, October 17, 2013

For the past two weeks, an unprecedented coalition of Acadians, Anglophones and members of the Elsipogtog First Nation have blockaded a compound in the Canadian town of Rexton, New Brunswick, where trucks and equipment used in the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are stored. The company that owns the facility — SWN Resources Canada — has been working all summer to conduct seismic tests as the first step in the fracking process. While the natural gas derived from the drilling would primarily be sold over the border in the United States, the impacts of extraction — namely polluted water and air — would be felt in these communities for generations to come.

In New Brunswick, the provincial government owns all underground mineral and gas rights. The local people have little influence over their own land. In some cases, citizens only receive a written notice within 24 hours of seismic testing and drilling on their land. Realizing their lack of legal power in the decision-making process, impacted landowners began organizing in New Brunswick’s Kent County about three years ago, when shale gas companies moved in to start exploration. Groups like Our Environment, Our Choice and Upriver Environment Watch began educational campaigns — including speaking tours, lobbying the provincial and local governments, and public actions such as a blue ribbon campaign for clean water, where activists tied ribbons along the major roads in the area to publicize the issue.

Following negotiations between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and representatives of Elsipogtog First Nation and the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society, SWN agreed to stop testing in the backwoods of New Brunswick at the end of July, and announced it would resume in mid-September with testing in lower lying areas. But the encampment that began two weeks ago has thus far prevented SWN from proceeding. Employees may be attempting dynamite testing elsewhere, but the activists in Rexton and the neighboring towns are paying close attention, waiting for any sign of activity.

This firm, but cheerful outlook is guiding the Elsipogtog community and their allies in the struggle to halt fracking in New Brunswick and — perhaps just as importantly — overcome the ugly history between settler and native groups. For evidence of such progress, one need only look at two signs placed close to one another at the encampment. One reads, “SWN, Returnez Chez-vous!” while the other says, “Frack Off!

Full article: http://www.zcommunications.org/protectors-vs-destroyers-canadians-unite-to-stop-fracking-in-new-brunswick-by-sam-koplinka-loehr.html

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