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Newfoundland Enacts Fracking Moratorium, Protests Continue in Neighboring New Brunswick
By Andy Rowell
As First Nations continue to fight fracking in New Brunswick, the neighboring provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador has halted the controversial drilling technique.
The government is arguing that more research is needed to see if it is safe for both people and the environment.
Western Newfoundland’s shale-oil deposits have been described as a potentially vast, but the region includes the Gros Morne National Park, which is a world heritage site and huge tourist attraction.
Exploration licenses had already been granted in the Green Point shale near the Park.
But UNESCO had recently indicated that the Park’s heritage status could be at risk if fracking is allowed to proceed near its boundaries.
“Our government will not be accepting applications for onshore and onshore to offshore petroleum exploration using hydraulic fracturing,” said Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley in the State’s House of Assembly on Monday.
“Our first consideration is the health and safety of our people," Dalley added. “In making this decision, our government is acting responsibly and respecting the balance between economic development and environmental protection.”
Dalley said that the moratorium would allow the province to undertake a review of regulations, rules and guidelines in other jurisdictions. It would also involve public consultation.
Opposition politicians approved the move. One New Democratic Party member, George Murphy, said: “It seemed like it was very rash, it seemed like it was very unconcerning the way they wanted to proceed with development.”
So did local anti-fracking groups: one member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Fracking Awareness Network, Angie Payne, said: “I think this is a really, really wise thing to do. It’s great the government is listening to us.”
The decision was said to have come as a surprise to Black Spruce Exploration and its partner Shoal Point energy, which wanted to frack in the west of the province.
Meanwhile the anti-fracking protests in New Brunswick are continuing. The Mi’kmaq Warrior Society, along with members of the Elsipogtog First Nation, are planning to light a “sacred fire” blockade to impede SWN Resources Canada from conducting testing in the province this week.
"There will be no fracking at all," Jerome continued. “We are putting a sacred fire here, and it must be respected.”
And yesterday, up to 650 people protested in front of the provincial legislature in Fredericton, demonstrating against fracking in the province.
“They go into the community to exploit the people of the community,” said protester Charles Richard. “Once they exploit them, take everything, they pack their bags and they go. That’s why they call them carpetbaggers.”
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Julia Conley
Climate campaigners on Friday expressed hope that policymakers who are stalling on taking decisive climate action would reconsider their stance in light of new warnings from an unlikely source: two economists at J.P. Morgan Chase.
Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system
Colorado River Has Lost 1.5 Billion Tons of Water to the Climate Crisis, 'Severe Water Shortages' May Follow
California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.
The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.
"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."
While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.
The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.
"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.
Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.
"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.
NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.
As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.
"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.
The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.
"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."
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