The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for New Brunswick has issued a ground-breaking document looking at shale gas development and public health. Released in September 2012, The Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick starts from guiding principles of public health, outlines what is known and what is not known about shale gas and health, and sets out recommendations for how the province should proceed in order to protect public health if it moves ahead with shale gas development.
Dr. Eilish Cleary’s recommendations have been largely ignored by the provincial government as it moves ahead to open the province to the unconventional gas industry.
In May 2013, the government released its Oil and Natural Gas Blueprint, which sets six main objectives, none of them health.
“Because health wasn’t identified specifically as an objective or a priority, that does leave me with some cause for concern,” Cleary told CBC. “I would question, if we’re not bringing in this industry in order to better the lives and the health of the people of this province, well then why would we do it?”
Cleary’s commitment to examine the public health consequences of shale gas development is welcomed by the many citizen groups concerned about the health risks of shale gas industrial development in the province.