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Activist Communique: New Brunswickers call for a referendum and moratorium on shale gas exploration as fight with SWN heats up

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There has been lots of turmoil and debate regarding fracking for shale gas.

At one site near the town of Rexton, New Brunswick, there is an ongoing battle to stop fracking in order to protect the water -- which is Mother Earth’s First Medicine.

Mi’kmaq and Elsipogtog First Nations have been struggling against shale gas fracking on their traditional territory by SWN Resources, along with Acadian and Anglophone support.

SWN Resources is a Texas-based resource extraction company that has been using large trucks with seismic equipment -- called “Thumpers” -- to explore under the earth for gas deposits.

While this testing has been stalled and an injunction against a warrior camp to demonstrate against the potential fracking by blockading highways lifted, SWN Resources has announced that it plans to resume “Thumping” the area on Wednesday November 13, 2013.

Local residents have reported an increased Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Rexton, New Brunswick and the surrounding area.

There was a major show down on Thursday October 17, 2013, as the RCMP moved in to enforce a court injunction to remove any blockaders from the area. Forty people were arrested. Some still remain in custody.

Currently, Mi’kmaq War Chief, John Levi, has sent out the following message: “Calling out on all the support swn coming back Tuesday and will be thumping by Wednesday need all the support and RCMP wants to block all the roads for 3 days even hwy 11.”

Georgina Brennan Sock also sent out a message to activists and their allies: “New camp site in Laketon has about 15 people surrounded by about 20 rcmp vehicles, and rcmp are scattered everywhere please come in numbers.”

In a further chilling message made today as RCMP ramp up its presense in the area, Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi said, "You never know what they are going to do."

“They might be shooting their real guns this time, that is what I am worried about,” said Levi.

In a broader movement to end shake gas exploration, Avaaz is hosting a petition for New Brunwickers to sign to convince the province to allow a referendum into fracking and hopefully a moratorium on fracking.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has established a moratorium on fracking.

Its Minister of Natural Resources, Derrick Dalley, said that the government would not be "accepting applications for onshore and onshore to offshore petroleum exploration using hydraulic fracturing."

First Nations groups and their allies were elated with the news, which was announced last week.

"We are thrilled about Newfoundland's moratorium and commend the government's decision. We urge the government to take its time to investigate all the evidence on all aspects of fracking, and be truly consultative by incorporating community and First Nations input into their final decision," says Angela Giles, Atlantic regional organizer for the Council of Canadians.”

"Clearly this is something that the New Brunswick government could learn from given the reopening of the legislature yesterday to a huge rally of opponents of fracking for shale gas. The New Brunswick government should follow suit and place a moratorium on fracking in order to conduct similar reviews and hold genuine public consultation," she said.

According to the New Brunswick petition creator, Joël M, “In 2011 a petition against the development of Shale Gas was tabled in the New-Brunswick legislature which contained 16,000 signatures. What we are doing here today, two years later is simple. Our concerns have not been addressed -- appropriate steps have not been taken to ensure the safety and satisfaction for the people of New Brunswick on this very important issue.”

The petition reads as follows:

“1. We, the people of New-Brunswick demand an immediate and unconditional moratorium be declared on the exploration, development and all activities involved in the Shale Gas issue.

2. We, the people of New-Brunswick demand a referendum be held to provide a clear and concise voice of the citizens of this province to either support or refuse the developments of Shale Gas and Hydro-Fracking.”

You can sign the Avaaz petition here.

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