A Country Away, It’s Same Fractivists, Same Funders

Fractivists - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Fractivists and their funders are the same, literally the same, wherever you go it seems and there aren’t that many of them as this case study of New Brunswick indicates.

One thing you notice quickly about the fractivists, once you get to know them, is how few they are in number. It’s the same people who show up everywhere, the same people behind everything and the same funders. This was brought home to me recently, when I came across a group known as the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, an organization heavily involved in fighting natural gas development in Canada.

Park Foundation Fractivists Go International

The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance is allied with another group called the Council of Canadians and several Canadian unions for purposes of conducting a “Voice of the People” provincial tour supposedly intended to “provide public education about shale gas, clean jobs, and clean energy.”  It is a propaganda campaign aimed at frustrating New Brunswick’s decision to move ahead with exploratory shale gas development in cooperation with SWN Resources Canada (a Southwestern Energy subsidiary) and Corridor Resources.

Fractivists - SWN Map

SWN Resources License Map

The Council of Canadians is headed by Maude Barlow who serves as its National Chairperson and chairs the board of Food and Water Watch here in the US, which, in addition to be one of the most mercenary of all fractivist groups, is also one of the most cynical and shallow. The Council likes to crow about the fact it receives no money from governments or corporations, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take special interest money. It takes money from the Park Foundation, in fact, the sugar-daddy funder of nearly all fractivist initiatives.

The Park Foundation has given $915,000 over the last four years to support the work of Maude Barlow in form of these grants:


  • $125,000 to Food & Water Watch for “National water campaign to prevent the private control of water and protect and conserve the nation’s water resources”
  • $125,000 to Food & Water Watch for “New Yorkers Against Fracking coalition”
  • $15,000 to Council of Canadians to “Strengthen the U.S. water commons and justice movement, which includes the work and travel of Maude Barlow in the U.S.


  • $35,000 to Michigan Land Use Institute to “Provide FLOW with general operating support and also to support the promotional and logistical costs associated with bringing Maude Barlow to the United States as part of a Great Lakes Commons tour” (Note: FLOW’s Board of Directors includes Wenonah Hauter, the Executive Director of Food & Water Watch)
  • $125,000 to Food & Water Watch for “National water campaign to prevent the private control of water and protect and conserve the nation’s water resources”
  • $125,000 to Food & Water Watch to “Expand New Yorkers Against Fracking‘s organizing capacity”
  • $40,000 to Food & Water Watch for “New Yorkers Against Fracking coordination and outreach activities”


  • $150,000 to Food & Water Watch for “National water campaign to prevent the private control of water and protect and conserve the nation’s water resources”


  • $150,000 to Food & Water Watch for “National water campaign to prevent the private control of water and protect and conserve the nation’s water resources”
  • $25,000 to Council of Canadians to “Public speaking schedule of Maude Barlow in the U.S., and the ongoing Blue Planet Project water justice work in the U.S.”

Notice the fractivist agenda is a seamless one that does not respect borders. Also, notice the interwoven roles of the Park Foundation and Food & Water Watch. The Council of Canadians is also supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which is up to its ears in funding opposition to Canadian oil and gas development (also see here and here). Between the Park and Rockefeller families plus a few others, of course, virtually every anti-fracking activity in the US gets a boost and, as far as they’re concerned, that includes everything bordering on the Great Lakes, from New York to Michigan to Canada despite it being someone else’s country.

Fractivist Transplants Invade New Brunswick 

The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance is likewise influenced by US fractivists, albeit of the expatriate sort. One of the key people on the “Voice of the People” tour is a fellow named Jim Emberger, who lives in Taymouth, NB and says he’s hoping to become a Canadian citizen. In the meantime, he’s acting like every other transplant fractivist; telling his hosts how they ought to believe and live based on the values he brought from elsewhere. Here’s Emberger doing his schtick at a public meeting in Norton, NB:

This, of course, could just as easily be Craig Stevens, the well-known fractivist from California who now lives in Pennsylvania and goes to New York and everywhere else always claiming to be 6th generation from somewhere. Emberger is from Baltimore and now speaks like he’s an old-time Canadian.  You could put Stephens and Emberger side by side, close your eyes, listen and not be able to tell them apart, although, if you peeked, you’d see one is bald and the other has a shock of white hair. It’s hardly surprising, given that Craig Stevens is closely associated with Food & Water Watch these days, just like Emberger (through the Council of Canadians).

Both disperse half-facts, distortions and long ago debunked “evidence” at rapid fire rates. Emberger, for example, at about 2:20 in the video, quotes a Colorado air study that later proved to be junk science, suggesting people within a half-mile of a producing gas wells had a 66% greater chance of getting cancer. The truth is this: even after incorrectly assuming “emissions were more than 10 times higher than real-world conditions, and treating exhaust fumes from Interstate 70 as if they came from gas wells, the authors of the paper admit they could not show a clear correlation between proximity to those gas wells and higher health risks.”

Emberger is also a perennial protestor. He’s involved in fighting a mine in New Brunswick, for instance, using many of the same arguments as he foists on the fracking debate (e.g., no meaningful jobs, temporary benefits, environmental catastrophic risks, etc.). He describes his qualifications as an expert as follows:

I am a Permanent Resident in New Brunswick who hopes to be a citizen in the near future. I live in Taymouth, an area that lies within the range of effects from Sisson Brook. Before coming here from the United States I was Executive Director of BioTrek Naturalists, Inc., an environmental education non-profit, and served on the board of Woodberry Land Trust, Inc., a land conservation organization. I have a Certificate in Environmental Studies from Johns Hopkins University School of Continuing Education. While I am not a scientist, I have a working background in ecology, and have been involved in the evaluation of other development projects. Thanks for your consideration of my comments.

It turns out that last job Emberger had with BioTrek Naturalists, Inc. before leaving the US for New Brunswick, was a volunteer position with an organization that last filed a 990 return with our Internal Revenue Service in 1997, when it took in less than $19,000. Guidestar says “This organization’s [non-profit] exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.” So, it appears that position was somewhat less than what Emberger would have it. He also used his volunteer position with the Woodberry Land Trust to oppose the use of former landfill property for this new stadium at Loyola University.

Fractivists - Loyola Stadium

There’s nothing surprising in any of this, of course. Fractivists always tend to be serial protestors in hot pursuit of their latest cause. They are also the sort of people typically employed as “useful idiots” by wealthy special interests who want to stay in the background, illustrating the fractivist politics in Canada are not that much different than here. It’s the same people funded by the same special interests, using the same inane arguments and talking points. Fortunately, the government of New Brunswick seems to be in saner hands. I’ll let our Canadian friends decide that for themselves but, a word of caution; we’re not taking Emberger back.

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44 thoughts on “A Country Away, It’s Same Fractivists, Same Funders

  1. Add in the Conservation Council of NB! A December 8, 2012 NB L’Etoile article reported that CCNB received $60k from ELJB for a “project” on natural gas in NB. ELJB is now the Echo Foundation. . .
    According to this wiki article ELJB has deep pockets — $80M with three employees.

    On page 11 of the CCNB’s Annual Report, they report a total income of $782k and expenses and programs cost them $514k so they have $268k while protesters face the courts. Where has their cherished “sun spills” and “wind gusts” been controlled and stored supplying energy on demand? Nowhere because after 30 years of subsidizes, they still aren’t there! Sounds like a failed technology that continues to beg “give so we can do better’.


      • The issue Tom is that non of the companies paying you are making significant financial contributions to the communities they are working in either – the only people reaping any rewards are their financed lobbyist groups (you), and their share holders. Even the CEO of EXXON sued to keep fracking off of his property – partially because it would be an eyesore on/near his multi million dollar estate and partly because he isn’t confident that they can keep fracking fluids from contaminating his water supply and killing his very expensive horses…but I guess it’s okay as long as it’s only killing poor people and contaminating livestock used to feed local people. http://www.thenation.com/blog/178534/exxons-pro-fracking-ceo-suing-stop-fracking-near-his-mansion#

        • Are you kidding? Pennsylvania companies have paid out $400 million in just two years in impact fees not to mention donations to fire companies, to build hospitals and hundreds of other good causes plus what they’ve spent upgrading roads to better conditions than before they came. It’s billions altogether and you want to say it’s not significant? You’ve no idea what you’re talking about.

          • Absolutely – $400 million in donations for infrastructure is a whole lot less than the billions in damages they would face if they were ever held accountable…it’s less a donation than an investment in their legal future. The only reason they upgrade roads is because of the increased traffic of service trucks. I have worked in the industry for many years in various roles – I am well aware of what I am talking about. Unlike you, I am not paid by oil companies to spread “sunshine and happiness”, propaganda. I have lived in towns where the water table was so contaminated by fracking fluids that drinking water has to be trucked in (compliments of Oil companies” donations”).

          • “I have lived in towns where the water table was so contaminated by fracking fluids that drinking water has to be trucked in…”

            Really? What were they? Let’s have names, dates and places.

    • You realize that Tom is financed by the oil industry to disseminate pro oil propaganda. He’s paid to travel anywhere protesters are winning and try to discredit them with misinformation and studies paid for by EPAC and OPG. Here is one of his past battles in Pennsylvania – it didn’t go so good for him, he tucked his tail between his legs and went to try and fight in Michigan instead before picking up the Canadian battle flag. http://www.ragingchickenpress.org/2012/08/07/response-to-tom-shepstone-paid-fracking-propagandist/

      • I think it went very well and I’m a landowner with a right to my opinions just like you are. I do some work for the industry but that’s no different than someone like you having a job with, say, NRDC.

        • Absolutely – I believe that everyone has a right to their opinion. I don’t believe that anyone should be paid to promote someone else’s opinion though.

          • You are content to ignore those paid by the Rockefellers to dispense fractivist opinion though, aren’t you? You appear to have no problem with them giving Walter Hang $800,000 over three years. I’d say you’re only offended by the industry spending money to defend itself.

  2. Pingback: New Brunswick Shale Gas Development A MustNatural Gas Now

  3. Organizations Against Fracking

    In addition to a public petition bearing more than 20,000 citizen signatures and an alliance of approximately 30 grassroots community groups opposing unconventional shale gas/oil development, the following organizations in NB have called for a ban or moratorium on fracking:

    New Brunswick College of Family Physicians with 700 members (April 2012)
    Medical Doctors of the Moncton Hospital (June 2012)
    Medical Doctors at Georges Dumont Hospital, Moncton (Sept. 2012)
    New Brunswick Nurses Union with 6900 members (Dec. 2011)
    Medical Staff at Sackville Memorial Hospital (May 2012 and again in May 2013)
    New Brunswick Lung Association (Nov 2012)
    Canadian Union of Public Employees with 30,000 members (April 2012)
    NB National Farmers Union with 150 farms as members (March 2012)
    Maritime Conference of the United Church of Canada (March 2012 and again in October 2013)
    The Federation of Rural New Brunswickers (August 2012)
    Public Service Alliance of Canada – Atlantic Region (July 2013)
    Really Local Harvest Co-operative – South-east NB (Oct 2013)
    KAIROS – Saint John and area chapter (Oct 2013)
    Concerned Physicians of Rexton and Richebucto (Oct 2013)
    Unifor – Canada’s largest energy union with 300,000 members, called for a national moratorium on fracking on Nov 14, 2013.
    Community Forests International (Feb 2014)
    Elgin Eco Association (Feb 2014)

  4. Unfortunately, that article is riddled with misinformation. It appears to be little more than a PR release by the oil industry. Personally I’m on the fence, yes – we need additional sources of fuels and the economic boost would be great, but at what cost. There are currently over 3 million signatures on various petitions across Canada…that is roughly 9% of the total population. Groups who are contributing financially to the anti fracking movement include the largest energy union in Canada (who would actually benefit financially is the fracking went ahead), the largest government employee union in the country and countless medical advisory boards who have already seen the adverse health effects it causes. I have worked in the industry doing nitrified acid fracks in Northern Alberta…I have seen the economic benefits but I have also seen the costs both socially and in regards to health. However it appears that according to the article, unless the study is funded by Suncor or BP – then it is junk science…I would personally like to see the author go tell the families of some of my former co workers that the rare brain cancer their loved ones died from had nothing to do with the chemicals being pumped down hole and that the medical findings were just junk science.

    • What misinformation? Be specific and I’m not talking anecdotal evidence of the sort you folks always like to rely upon.

    • From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/22/14

      Employment in the manufacturing sector is rising and Western Pennsylvania is among regions demonstrating rapid growth because of energy-intensive industries, a report for the U.S. Conference of Mayors found. Energy-intensive manufacturing employment will expand by more than 1 percent per year nationwide, with 72 percent of those jobs in metropolitan areas, the report said, noting that the Marcellus shale play in Pennsylvania…significantly fueled that expansion. … Pittsburgh remains a national leader in iron and steel manufacturing jobs. … Employment in iron and steel is forecast to contract by 0.9 percent annually in Pittsburgh through 2020. … “You’ll see that the oil and gas industry grew during the 2007-to-2012 period because of the growth in the oil and gas industry, especially in shale gas, and Pennsylvania led that growth,” said Jennifer Cruz, an economist with BLS. … Shale-gas development led to a surge in employment in Pennsylvania. In 2012, the state was the sixth-largest employer nationwide in the oil and gas sector, up from the 10th largest in 2007, the Labor Department said. Pennsylvania had the second-biggest employment increase during that period, behind Texas. The average pay in the oil and gas sector in 2012 was $82,974 in Pennsylvania, higher than the state average of $48,297.

      • Tom you oversimplify reality. Thousands of individuals have made considerable sacrifices at their own expense to defend democracy, water, air and land — out of individual conscience.

        • And, so have tens of thousands of rural landowners like me! Do you really suppose you’re the only people with consciences?

          • Your comments implied people were bankrolled to resist shale gas development in New Brunswick. That couldn’t be further from the truth. So you have not addressed my point at all. To say people rolled by their conscience is not to say people who are paid don’t have one. I was challenging your facts, not casting aspersions on anyone. The resistance movement can be endorsed, and is, by any number of groups, national, regional, provincial, municipal, etc. But that does not mean money was associated with the endorsements.

          • As I noted in the post, your fractivist movement in Canada (not saying anything about you individually) is being funded the the same uber-wealthy elitists as here: the Parks, the Rockefellers, the Heinz’s, et al.

      • So, Penn experienced no cost over contributions from industry to increase or repair infrastructure? And diod all those workers pay taxe2s in state, or are they paying taxes back home?

          • You answer aboput “minimal” is evasive. Do you or do you not have in layman’s terms a statement about the parent headquarters of the shale gas companies opperating in Pen State and whether or not their workers and their subcontactors’ employees are ALL residents of the state? If so do you think this is typical of all ghas fields in the US? Do you have distilled stats to back you answers to these questions?

          • You’re obviously not interested in the facts I sent you. What a surprise.

          • Tom, I afraid you take opponents in your debate as fools.

            When I ask you for an answer in layman’s language consistent with your style of prose it does not indicate a lack of interest.

            You are trying to tell us that you think the ‘Rockerfellers’ (original owners of what is now Exxon) would be funding fracking protests?

            Good luck with that kind of reasoning from whatever facts.

    • Aljazeera? What’s next? A blue ribbon study by Putin saying fracking is dangerous if it competes with Russian gas? This is a joke.

  5. Well really does it surprise this Eastern Canadian in a neighboring province that indeed we have another American telling our region what is best for us ? Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May was a rich brat from Connecticut who proceeded to evangelize against spraying for the Spruce Bud Worm in Cape Breton. The result was devistating to the forestry industry in Cape Breton. This reminds me of the Southern Preachers with Tents who would come to our region proslatise religion each and every summer. My view that frackivistism is another nutty religion is based on the fact we see these religious rival meetiñgs that are in the forum of Film Festivals that bar Farmers from attending for not being believers . Real Religions don’t quite stoop to the depths of the or arrogance and intolerance of Frackivism . Love the ginned up number of supporters in New Brunswick the Baltimore Preacher professes.I hope someone can notify Immigiration Canada to this hostile prostlatizer . A simple Thai Chef for a Halifax restaurant was sent back to Thailand and he was actually trying to be a model productive member of Canadian society.

  6. Xenophobia is as anti-productive as racism. Good luck, as if the richest industry on the planet needs its own preachers. It hires more than half of the communication and public relations graduates from colleges and universities. So one would assume Tom is paid, or a volunteer “preacher”.

  7. I have no doubt that a great number of Anti Fracking protesters are also paid to promote agendas by other agencies. I am wholly against that too. My opinions are mine alone. They come from extensive exposure living in affected communities and working in the industry for a companies that are as guilty of the contamination as anyone else.

  8. The sad thing is that here in NB is that the data set used was not specific to New Brunswick. It is very apparent that the info that Dr. Ingraffea, Deborah Rogers, Calvin Tillman, Jessica Ernst, Clayton Thomas Muller,and the civil disobedience trainer used they knew nothing about the Frederick Brook Formation in NB.

    The first well flared in 1999 and by October, 2002 there were eight fracks jobs completed. The Frederick/Hiram Brook formation is limestone not shale. The average well is drilled vertically 2,500 meters before the payzone is hit. The payzone is from 900-1,164 meters thick so the frac jobs are the traditional incline — no 90 degree horizontal fracks here — if there is anything that is unconventional it is the multiwell pad which was first used in Pennsylvania in 2008 for natural gas.

    The Frederick Brook formation has been accessed at 80tscf and the gas is dry — it is 93% methane with small amounts of the valuable by-products butane,pentane, and propane. The Frederick Brook formation does not respond to water because of the clay contact — it swells! The last eight fracks were with propane and they have fracked with air and nitrogen.

    As for seismic testing, it has been used in NB for over 60 years.

    And, I work for no one!

    • Janet,
      Your article is well said, I have lived here long enough to know the impact Corridor Resources has had in this area and its all positive to me. People from far away are coming here to try to tell me its all bad, and the rest of us. What do they know? I do know Corridor has been here for over 16 years and without one incident. I do know I would rather breathe in the emissions from Natural Gas , then from Oil , which was heavily used by the local Potash Mine , but of course those people would know that. We will watch our children leave New Brunswick to go out west to work in the Oil and Gas Industry, mainly because there is not much work here, is this what we want. Our youth has the highest unemployment rate in Canada . That’s a fact.

  9. Big surprise that the comments section of this article is polluted with the “commentary” of one of the chief implanted anti-shale/eco terrorists of N.B.

  10. I ran a leading groundwater remediation firm back in the 90’s until we were acquired by a larger US based firm (Calgon Carbon Corporation of Pittsburgh). The claim of groundwater contamination by fracking, like all the other scare stories is bunk. Fracking has been safely carried out in tens of thousands of wells in the US and western Canada. NB sits on top of one of the richest shale gas deposits in Canada and the US. Fracking has the potential to create hundreds of jobs and large royalty revenue ($7 billion according to Frank McKenna, former Liberal Premier) in a desperately poor province. What these anti-fracking activists are doing is immoral.

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