Why New Brunswick Needs Natural Gas Development

New Brunswick -  Tom Shepstone Reports Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


New Brunswick needs natural gas development now if it’s ever going to catch up economically with the rest of Canada’s provinces. It’s now dead last.

We’ve covered the New Brunswick, Canada debate over natural gas development here with a series of posts noting the involvement of the Park Foundation there as well in New York, Michigan and elsewhere. We’ve also told the story of Jim Emberger, the US activist who transplanted himself to the province and has resumed his favorite pastime there. Now Emberger is out with a self-indulgent and lengthy opinion piece in the CBC News. It’s the typical hodgepodge of baseless assertions and hyperbole we’ve come to expect from fractivists but it was the ludicrous economic arguments made by Emberger that caught our attention.

Emberger Economics Is No Prescription for New Brunswick

New BrunswickHere’s some of Jim Emberger’s economic analysis, if you can call it that, where he tries to make the case there are viable alternatives to natural gas development for New Brunswick. He does this of course, as a retiree who’s already his money elsewhere (as is almost always the case with fractivists living off trust funds or other sources of income that don’t require making a living where they reside):

In nearby Massachusetts, they have adopted a clean energy economy, which has created nearly three times the number of jobs created in Pennsylvania by shale gas, even though Massachusetts has half the population.

Retrofitting their infrastructure for energy efficiency created the majority of jobs; something we could do here today to bring our folks back from the west.  Investment in renewable energy is another part of the mix.

Germany, the most successful economy in Europe, also leads the world in renewable energy, along with Denmark.  These countries have fewer sun, wind and water resources than New Brunswick.

Vermont, besides investing in clean energy, has also adopted a program to simply fill more of all their state’s needs from local sources, saving millions of dollars and creating jobs. Each of these places is unique, but they share the common characteristic of facing the reality of the future.

New Brunswick could easily do likewise by intelligently developing its own assets…

A clean, non-destructive economy attracts those industries like hi-tech that value a healthy quality of life, and it encourages tourism.

None of these policy alternatives are possible while we direct our resources to the pursuit of fossil fuels and ignore their dangers.

Not one of these assertions is backed up by Emberger with hard evidence, of course, because he’s wrong on virtually every count. Yes, Massachusetts claims to now have 79,994 “clean energy workers” but they count everyone remotely connected to it to get that number (read the methodology) and, even at that, it’s a third of Pennsylvania’s 237,741 Marcellus Shale industry related jobs, according to the Commonwealth’s Department of Labor and Industry.

That may be the reason Jim Emberger doesn’t use numbers. It also may be that he doesn’t want to get deeply into the subsidies required of taxpayers for those “clean energy workers.” They put out $255 million in 2013 for a 6% renewables share of their energy generation, which is less than one-tenth the electricity generation they get from natural gas. That’s one of the reasons why Massachusetts has the highest debt per capita anywhere in the US according to the Tax Foundation. That’s hardly something to which to aspire.

New Brunswick - MA Debt

Ancient Talking Points, Destruction of the Alps and the Burning of Vermont 

Like all good fractivists who are multitudes of news cycles behind in their talking points, Emberger also predictably cites Germany as the example New Brunswick should emulate. He hasn’t caught up with the fact the German energiewende has become too expensive and they’re pulling back. He also apparently doesn’t care they’re planting gigantic wind towers throughout the Alps to great citizen consternation. They’re also building many new coal plants that burn lignite or “brown coal,”the dirtiest coal of all, which is one of the reasons their emissions are up while the US’s are down.

Emberger, of course, is also drawn to the Vermont example where the People’s Republic has decided to not only do more renewables but also “fill more of all their state’s needs from local sources” he says. They have have no natural gas resources, of course, so that’s why they cynically and politically safely banned development of gas, despite needing gobs more of it from Canada and Pennsylvania, so what is Emberger talking about?

New Brunswick - Vermont

Vermont Outdoor Wood Furnace

Perhaps it’s this lottery program to open up its state forests for “cut your own” firewood cutting. It encourages participants to “to learn chainsaw safety skills” before cutting. Good advice. I wonder, though, how many of those transplanted Manhattanites will be out there cutting up their own firewood. Still, the mental image of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean with a chain saw is about as scary as it gets. Can’t you just see it? Moreover, are we really talking about going back to burning firewood, one of the dirtiest of fuels (see photo above)? And, don’t most chain saws operate on fossil fuels? 

If You’re Dead Last, Maybe You Need Something New?

Jim Emberger’s prescription for New Brunswick also calls for more tourism as if that was incompatible with natural gas development. It’s not as we have proven here, but where he really misses the point is on what’s already been happening with the New Brunswick economy, which has been very little compared to some of Canada’s other provinces. Here’s a summary of the latest individual income data published at Statistics Canada by the Government:

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 5.23.44 AM

The provinces are ranked by their 2012 median incomes. Notice New Brunswick is dead last at $28,240 and this was after some above average gains for the last few years. How can that be, given it’s right next door to Maine which is roughly in the middle of the pack for the US? Well, take a look which provinces had the highest incomes in 2012. They included the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alberta and Saskatchewan. What’s special about those places? They are mining and energy centers for Canada.  Canadian officials are quoted as saying this:

“Mining will be one of the most important economic drivers in Northern Canada in the years to come…The fact that the territories consistently score high on economic performance indicators is not surprising. Despite downturn in  the global commodity market, natural resource development activities continue to bolster these economies with growth rates well above the national average.”

Alberta and Saskatchewan are also in the natural resource business. Alberta accounts for 80% of Canada’s natural gas production and Saskatchewan represents another 4%. Alberta also accounts for 66% of Canada’s crude oil production and Saskatchewan represents another 22%. Alberta is also the center of the Canadian oil sands industry. It’s little wonder, therefore, why Alberta has a median income $10,950 or 39% higher than New Brunswick, is it?

There are two things to conclude from all this. First, New Brunswick needs natural gas development to bolster its economy. Secondly, never trust the economics advice of a transplanted retiree from another country who doesn’t need to make living in the same place as you.

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4 thoughts on “Why New Brunswick Needs Natural Gas Development

  1. I am writing this because I see clashes in NB regarding Oil and Gas, where people are getting hurt or jailed for all the wrong reasons.

    I left New Brunswick 11.5 years ago for Alberta because it was just to hard to support a growing family and the politics are still in the dark ages. The province does need to develop it’s resources and the main way to do that is through education. The governments have done a pitiful job in educating the citizens of the benefits of O&G development and if it is done correctly, which has to be managed, NB can become one of the have provinces and still maintain the environment, again, if it is done correctly. NB has an opportunity to build something great and they have the chance to do it correctly because you are starting from scratch. Just Do it right the first time. Get the right industry people with the right attitude and you can truly have something great

    I am hiring people weekly from NB, NS, PEI and NFLD, BC, QC, SASK & Ont. because they too can’t raise a family. In Alberta we are all here to build something, and we are doing just that. Especially our families where your children have unlimited opportunities for their future.

    I love NB, especially the people, but the party politics has suppressed the province since confederation. Alberta has a get r done attitude and Government here has been designed to support business development, communities and families. That’s why the work is here, not because of just the resources.

    It is refreshing to be living and working in an environment where you see families growing and businesses starting up and thriving every day. No boarded up windows here.

    Come to Alberta folks, it was the best decision I ever made. At least until the Jr. High political mentality there grows up or the citizens finally stop voting the way the family did for generations and get a leader there who wants to build the Province, Not just their friends and the party “elite”.

    All the best,


  2. I wished gord that the federal government would change the ncome tax laws so that if you make your money in Western Canada you pay the cheaper rates .I have no doubt that Atlantic Canadian governments are making a ton of income tax off guys like my brother working in Fort Mac and paying Nova Scotia the outragous rate for his residency in Nova Scptiq . I probably amounts to billion more of revenues that amount to another unfair redistibution of Albertas money to. The basketcase economies

  3. Pingback: New Brunswick Fractivist Jim Emberger Called OutNatural Gas Now

  4. Pingback: New Brunswick Fractivist Jim Emberger Called Out | ShaleNOW

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