Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Aerials of LNG Protest St. Andrews Wharf

Tim Foulkes wrote:

That's a great video. I kept looking for a shot of that annoying little airplane that was trying to stay legal above the crowd, shooting pics from another perspective. First one is mine, the second one is Jeff Irving's, two of many.


More Quarry Questions

Here are few more questions that beg answers in addition to those in Art MacKay's list of Quarry Questions. (Courier article, Feb. 17). This is also in response to Jamer's assurance that their project "will have no impact on the water quality of Chamcook Lake"

If the local people allow their Rural Plan to be changed so that foreign aggregate companies like Vulcan Materials can devastate their landscape with mega quarries, Jamer Materials, the quarry operator, will still have to move the watershed boundary which runs over the top of the hill they plan to mine in order to prevent flow from it into the Chamcook Lake watershed. This may not be a problem for Vulcan Materials who are used to (re)moving mountains, but what if berms to redirect this flow fail, as has happened with other Vulcan quarries, or blasting opens a rift in the bedrock, as apparently happened (April, 2007) with Jamer's operation at the Port of Bayside? Vulcan has had problems at other quarries, (Google: Vulcan Quarry Violations), e.g.

There is obviously at least some risk that something will go wrong with berms or blasting. To deny this seems either naive or dishonest. Is any risk to St Andrews' water supply acceptable? Is it the right thing to do, even if it is legal and one “expert” says it’s safe?

If the berms do hold over the next century or more and no rifts are opened toward Chamcook Lake by the blasting, runoff will be contained on the "other" side of the watershed boundary as planned. This means it will flow into the St Croix estuary, or am I missing something? This is not a black and white question of who’s expert is right. It is a black and black question. In other words, it is a lose-lose situation for the environment.

Has the toxic effects of this "planned" runoff into the St Croix estuary been considered? ... More ...

LNG Protest in St. Andrews

This video from Youtube gives a good idea of the intensity of opposition to LNG development along the adjacent Maine shore.

Thanks to GJ for pointing this out.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Repsol's Purchase of Nova Scotia Gas May Allow Greater Flexibility for Canaport LNG Terminal

You have to dig deep to understand offshore moves

By ROGER TAYLOR Business Columnist
Wed. Feb 18 - 9:53 AM

SOMETIMES the actions of the energy companies can be difficult to figure out, especially for those of us who aren’t directly involved in Nova Scotia’s offshore energy sector.

One example of this was the surprise announcement Monday that Spanish oil company Repsol YPF had agreed to buy all of the gas EnCana Corp. will produce from its Deep Panuke project.

The move was an interesting one because it brought a major new player into the Nova Scotia energy mix and seems to confirm once and for all that the $750-million Deep Panuke project will indeed begin production sometime next year. But the announcement was also attention-grabbing because it wasn’t an outright sale of the project.

To understand the confusion, one needs some context.

A number of years ago, EnCana, headquartered in Calgary, indicated it would move away from conventional natural gas projects to concentrate on gas found in rock formations.

Since Deep Panuke was a conventional development, it was considered a non-core asset by the company, which meant that it could have been sold any time a buyer showed up with the right offer.

When management changed at EnCana a couple of years ago, the new executive team seemed less anxious to unload Deep Panuke. In fact, after several years of delays, EnCana decided it would go ahead with development of Deep Panuke.

Yet many Nova Scotians still felt that deep down, the company didn’t have its heart in keeping the project and would sell Deep Panuke if it could.

Meanwhile, Repsol, which has reportedly acquired exploration rights for parcels off Newfoundland, seems to be interested in getting involved in joint ventures to search for more oil and gas in the Atlantic region. A Repsol spokesman indicated the company was anxious to deploy an advanced deep-sea exploration system it owns to find gas reserves that might have been overlooked.

The company spokesman said in an earlier news report that the technology has helped to discover reserves at exploration sites around the world that were missed because of the reserves were in deep water.

Onshore, the energy giant is the majority owner of the Canaport liquefied natural gas terminal in Saint John, with Irving Oil. Having a ready supply of natural gas from Deep Panuke nearby seems to have been deemed necessary by the company to ensure that natural gas contracts would be honoured even if deliveries of LNG were delayed or reallocated to a more lucrative LNG market around the world.

Even though Repsol has indicated it wasn’t necessary for it to acquire Deep Panuke, it is assumed that EnCana could have sold the project outright. One wonders if EnCana has another motivation for maintaining a presence in the Nova Scotia energy sector.

The terms of the deal with Repsol have not been released, but the contract is good for the life of Deep Panuke and involves all gas extracted from the site, which is estimated to be 200 million to 300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Some people may be concerned that the single purchaser arrangement may somehow affect royalty’s Nova Scotia collects from Deep Panuke production.

I’ve been told the provincial Energy Department has become more sophisticated in dealing with complex energy contracts in recent years and unless this most recent deal conforms to revenue expectations, the government has the right to take legal action.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bay of Fundy LNG - Quoddy Bay LNG Sued by Engineering Firm

Articles in the Telegraph Journal and Quoddy Tides report on the financial troubles of Quoddy Bay LNG, the first of three proposed developments in Passamaquoddy Bay. The presence of the proposed site on Passamaquoddy Tribal lands at Sipayak split the community and caused great grief and concern around the Bay area.

Coler & Colantonio, an engineering firm, has filed suit for payment of $160,00 plus interest and legal costs. Quoddy Bay LNG previously had reniged on promised payment to the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

More to follow on this important news.

New Geocaches this week

1. Moss Glen Waterfall (Traditional Cache) (GC1MJGE)
Location: New Brunswick, Canada (53.1mi NE (85.5km NE))
Date: 2/10/2009 by Team BikeFast

2. Rain in February? (Traditional Cache) (GC1JVW1)
Location: New Brunswick, Canada (56.8mi N (91.5km N))
Date: 2/8/2009 by vbpad

3. 6 Miles From Home (Traditional Cache) (GC1MF2W)
Location: Maine, United States (91.9mi W (147.8km W))
Date: 2/7/2009 by EMSDanel

Monday, February 16, 2009

10 Easy Quarry Questions Seeking Answers

Like many concerned citizens of Charlotte County I am wasting my valuable time, energy, and creativity on issues that should have simple answers. Some of my questions are:

Question 1: There is a Provincial law protecting watersheds that supply potable water for communities. Why are we sending letters and petitioning the minister to protect the Chamcook watershed from the proposed quarry expansion when it is his obligation to uphold the law and refuse any such application?

Question 2: If the Province of New Brunswick does not protect the obvious interests of its citizens, who does it represent?

Question 3: Since he is responsible for the eastern part of the St. Andrews peninsula, why has our local liberal MLA been noticeable by his absence in this issue?

Question 4: The Ocean's Act prohibits the destruction of fish habitat. Why has the Department of Fisheries and Oceans not examined the destroyed scallop and lobster bottom off the Quarry to determine impacts of sediments from the quarry on critical fish habitat?

Question 5: The Government of Canada is investing millions of dollars in infrastructure in Charlotte County, providing more sustainable jobs and income than the proposed quarry development ever will. Will the vital water supply of these facilities be affected?

Question 6: The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act requires developers to undergo a hearing process when there is a development application in play that could harm our environment. Why has the CEAA not been evoked for the proposed Jamer Quarry expansion?

Question 7: My legal friends tell me that a verbal agreement is binding in Canada.. The promise made to the citizens of Charlotte County was removal of aggregate (at no cost to Jamer Materials) in exhange for expanded laydown for the “new” Bayside Port. Why has this agreement not been met and why has the Provincial judicial authority not pursued this obligation? Why is the federal judicial system not examining the Provincial legal performance in this regard?

Question 8: Quarries are not subject to the stringent laws governing mines in New Brunswick.When an amendment to the quarries act was placed before the legislature, why was it not even allowed to reach the house?

Question 9: If the issue is so important to St. Andrews, why is the town providing major financial support to an organization that purports to represent Town businesses, but which refuses to take a public stand on the Quarry issue in support of nearly 100% of its members?

Question 10: If it is such a good corporate citizen, why has the Bayside Port Corporation not been working with the community to integrate its activities into the needs and fabric of the community? Is it simply a "shill" for its major shareholder?

These are just a few of the questions that I think need answers. To me, the first two questions are the most important. Perhaps other concerned citizens have answers ... or other questions?

Art MacKay

A beautiful and healthy environment is our common interest

An open letter from Judy Gibson. You can add your voice by emailing Minister Hache at:

Dear M. Hache, Mr. Byre, Mr. Thompson, M. Doucet, Mr. Jochelman, Mr. Huntjens, Ms. Brayne, Ms. Walker, and editors of the Telegraph Journal, The Daily Gleaner, and the St. Croix Courier:

It is in our common interest that I write although I am not, these days, a resident of my home province of New Brunswick. I have relatives and friends there, and I consider Charlotte County to be a small paradise on earth, along with Passamaquoddy Bay and the islands.

Why has the New Brunswick government caused such pain to residents of St. Andrews and the Bayside area, and indeed to residents of Maine across the St. Croix River, by permitting such a polluting industry as Jamer Industries Ltd. to develop its operations on the banks of a historic and beautiful river, the border between Maine and New Brunswick?

Despite hundreds of solicitations from concerned residents of the area, and from people like myself who know its economic value lies in sustainable industries like fishing and tourism, Jamer Industries Ltd. and the Province of New Brunswick appear to be jumping over fences to get away from providing answers that will address the concerns of those correspondents and speakers at many meetings held on the issue.

Today I wrote to the International Rivers Network to assist us. I am sure that through their international magazine the interest of a great many more environmentally aware people will be piqued. Tourists who love the affected area will probably have lots to say. One might hope that even Jamer Industries and the Government of New Brunswick would see the light.

I know that the federal government has shown some concern through local NB representation for which we all ought to be grateful. I trust that MPs from the province will always align themselves on the side of clean air and water for all life, our own and that of other species with whom we share this planet.

One would have thought that no one needed to learn this lesson...but apparently in some quarters they read selectively, ignoring information which could interfere with their singularly selfish interests of 'the bottom line' and 'profit motive'. They obviously haven't heard how very expensive polluting the environment really is--to health, to our future, and to a sustainable planet.

Judy Gibson
58 The Boulevard
St. John's, NL
A1A 1K1
(709) 726-2498

Sunday, February 1, 2009

BAY OF FUNDY OPINION – Downeast LNG's Girdis, Comical Ali, and Canada

February 1, 2009

Downeast LNG is one of three LNG development proposals that must have their tankers traverse a very difficult route through Canadian inland waters in order to reach the sites of their proposed LNG terminals and facilities along the American shore of Passamaquoddy Bay. As it has for four decades, Canada remains opposed to the passage of large tankers through Head Harbour Passage. The reasons for this are: :

  1. The passage is the center of an”ecological engine” that is vital to the Bay of Fundy and northern Gulf of Maine. This “engine” drives an eco-economy that is valued at more than a half-billion dollars annually and supports thousands of Canadian jobs. Exclusion zones around tankers and facilities, while in layover or passage, will close down vital areas that support research, fisheries, aquaculture, and tourism thus reducing the viability of these vital industries. The Canadian position is based on economics, albeit with a huge environmental background.

  1. While it is acknowledged that large vessels such LNG tankers CAN find their way through the dangerous waters of Head Harbour Passage, a “risk analysis” was done for VLCC's during the Pittston Company's attempt to turn Eastport into a refinery and tank farm. Detailed professional studies were carried out and Canada determined that the Quoddy ecosystem was so valuable relative to the risk that they refused passage of large tankers through that passage. Nothing has changed.

  1. “Innocent passage” is a concept from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It is a little more complicated than the term “innocent” implies and is not applicable in the internal waters of any signatory country. Since the United States has not signed the Convention, it cannot claim rights under UNCLOS. This is a “red herring” that all LNG developers in Passamaquoddy Bay and their supporters, continue to use.

  1. Security and safety facilities along the Canadian and American shores of Passamaquoddy Bay have been deemed inadequate and the cost to local communities , the Province of New Brunswick, and Canada will be huge. Why would we condone these expenses when there is absolutely no economic benefit whatsoever?

  1. Had Mr. Girdis read the United States Coast Guard report, he would have seen that the USCG recognizes the sovereign rights of Canada in its own waters and indicated clearly that Canadian approval is an essential condition that must be met. The rest of the report is moot unless that approval is obtained.

  1. There are many other important reasons for prohibiting tanker passage including the difficulty of navigation, increased pollution, plankton reduction by cooling waters, loss of fishing grounds, introduction of invasive species, future cumulative affects from associated developments, and detrimental impacts on important and endangered bird and marine mammal populations including the endangered north Atlantic right whale which, in spite of claims to the contrary, does occur in the inner Quoddy Region where the LNG tankers could be operating. Full details are available online at:

Up to now, I have had grudging admiration for Downeast LNG's President Dean Girdis who, through it all, has continued to stay “on message” in the face of naked reality. But lately, he has been reminding me of “Comical Ali”. You will remember him. He was the Iraqi Information Minister who we all watched on CNN as he tried to convince the world that a superior force had not made it into Baghdad; even as automatic weapons fire could be heard in the background.

Regardless of the insulting disdain that Mr. Girdis has shown, Canada is still a sovereign country, the Hon. Greg Thompson is a senior member of cabinet, and Downeast LNG is but a tiny speck of a company. Mr. Girdis has not enhanced his cause by openly demonstrating his contempt for Canadians in general and Canada in particular. To paraphrase your words in a recent letter from Mr. Girdis, “Canada will not sit quietly by as you seek to protect your own economic interests by trying to dictate what kind of development is acceptable in sovereign Canadian waters.”


Art MacKay is a marine biologist, author and writer with over 40 years professional experience in the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine.