We have a new Resources Minister in Quebec. Everyone is interested what changes this will mean for our file in Quebec. Not least our opponents.
The Minister has repeated clearly the widely held belief there is no social acceptability for fracking in Quebec. The last Minister and the Premier said the same thing. Let’s be clear: industry and myself also say it.
If it was socially acceptable why did we go through four years of independent environmental reviews and two public consultations? One of the 134 independent studies amusingly discovered that there was no social acceptability. This was of course a tautology as the question answered itself.
Speaking of tautologies, the minister was asked: if in the future there is social acceptability, and the process is safe, and the distances from urban areas is respected, and the regulations are followed, would he allow fracking? You don’t have to think long before realizing the question answers itself.
The interesting and real question is if and how can we achieve social acceptability. Certainly it should be obvious that I think we can. Let me tell you why.
The main reason is the lack of social acceptability is built on lies and misinformation. Citizens were scared by dramatic claims of fracking lighting taps on fire and other nonsense. It’s like no one remembers this is the reason it became socially unacceptable in the first place. But the claims have been proven false.
I believe this is the reason the discourse in Quebec has moved away from claims of fracking problems. Credible people and credible media have seen what’s happening in the United States and can’t find the disaster. Just the opposite - the American economy is taking off while its emissions go down.
So opponents are mostly left with the result they created with their misinformation; it’s socially unacceptable. It’s like that kid at school who isn’t sitting at the cool kids table because they are just unpopular. And the reason they aren’t popular is because of the things the cool kids say about them.
Recently the head of Green Peace was asked if local gas is lower emissions than gas from Pennsylvania. He simply wouldn’t answer the question because it goes to the heart of the deception. Of course local natural gas will result in substantially less emissions and be better for the environment. Of course it will be better for the economy. Of course after two million wells and decades of experience it has been proven safe. It’s the elephant in the corner.
The problem, of course, is no one at the cool kids table wants to be the one who says they think the unpopular kid is actually nice. They might get kicked out from the cool kids table.
However, people slowly gravitate to the truth and they ultimately support what’s good for the environment, good for community and good for the economy. That’s why I remain confident that social acceptability will ultimately will be achieved. Local natural development is good for the people. And I can prove it.