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16th October 2015
NL fracking consultations: Stephenville, night 2

October 15, 2015 - 11:35am

The NLHFRP continued on to Stephenville for last evening’s public consultation, but the crowd wasn’t quite as polite and respectful of the panel, with people holding signs, asking questions of the panel between presenters, and booing when a panel member asked a (what was perceived as biased) question of a presenter.

The packed room of about 130 people had standing room only, with the majority holding a sign as their ‘silent submission’. Panel chair Ray Gosine commented a couple of times that it’s clear how most people feel about fracking given the sea of red and white ‘Don’t Frack NL’ signs in the room.

There were again about 12 scheduled presentations, including 3 youth who all decided to speak at the last minute (and were almost refused by the panel). Again all presenters were opposed to fracking, with many of the same issues being raised although were perhaps a little more technical overall, with more detail given around the unique geology, etc. Not as many raised concerns with the panel by presenters, but those concerns were certainly raised by some protesters at the event.

We also heard from the Deputy Mayor of the Town of Kippins – their community residents strongly oppose fracking and Mayor and Council have endorsed that position – and Qalipu (Mi’kmaq First Nation recently recognised in NL, pronounced ) Chief Brendan Sheppard – Chief and Council signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Black Spruce Exploration which was very controversial and will quite possibly result in many changes in their upcoming election (the 2nd one ever held). Chief Sheppard has been presumed to be pro-fracking given the signing of that MOU and that he has not stood up to oppose fracking, but he did also state during his presentation that he felt the majority of band members were against fracking.

The tone was respectful overall; similar questions came from the panel... Social license is becoming a clear theme, with the majority of presenters stating clearly “the panel should recommend a ban on fracking in the province until it can be scientifically proven safe”.

Angela Giles's blog