FREDERICTON—A decision by SWN Resources to suspend drilling plans is proof the New Brunswick government is pushing away jobs and investment with its moratorium on shale gas fracking, the Opposition said.
The Progressive Conservatives distributed to reporters a letter the energy company sent to the provincial government saying it is putting some of its plans on hold.
“I want to reiterate our desire to continue work on our exploration program in New Brunswick, but the commitment to a moratorium has forced us to suspend our drilling plans and rededicate resources to projects in other jurisdictions,” wrote Jeff Sherrick, executive vice-president of corporate development for SWN Resources Canada.
“Not knowing if or when the moratorium will be lifted makes it difficult for us to dedicate money to a project that may or may not go ahead in a given year.”
The Tories say they acquired the letter dated Dec. 16, 2014, through a right-to-information request.
Energy critic Jake Stewart says he wants the Liberal government to withdraw legislation that would implement the moratorium because it is turning away jobs and potentially millions of dollars in investment.
“They should never have promised that in the first place,” he said. “They played with the future and it’s not right.”
Opposition Leader Bruce Fitch repeatedly asked Premier Brian Gallant in the legislature how many jobs and how much investment may have been lost, but Gallant did not provide any figures in response.
The government’s legislation would require five conditions be met before the moratorium would be lifted. They include a process to consult First Nations, a plan to mitigate the impact on public infrastructure and address waste water disposal and credible information about the effects fracking has on health, water and the environment.
Gallant said those conditions are needed to protect the environment and ensure consultation.
SWN Resources did not return a request for comment and no one from the government would take questions about the moratorium from reporters following question period.