The public
should always be allowed to enjoy a level of contentment, that the public
policies promoted by politicians, are based upon certain fundamental principles.  Among them: a)  that they are founded on science b) guided by
a respect for social values including those relating to protection of the
environment and c) reflect the interests of the people for whom the policies
have been designed.

principles should be tautology; they should be imbedded in the fundamental laws
of all policy making.
A recent
copy of the Telegram (August 14th) read “Marshall surprised by fracking operations in Sask.”, together with
a picture of Natural Resources Minister standing in a canola field; a pump-jack
lifting oil from a hydraulic fractured well, provided backdrop. 

Seeing Tom
Marshall on a farm, anywhere, how could one not think that, once again, he had
stepped into a cow plop?

Source: The Telegram
This Blog
has been deliberate in exposing Tom Marshall’s shortcomings; he will likely not
understand why until after he, and his cohorts, are dragged before the firing
squad of a Royal Commission of Enquiry, into Muskrat Falls, a few years from
now.  But, that’s another matter.

Minister was in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, ostensibly to gather information on “fracking”,
the process of using explosives and chemicals to release oil and gas imbedded
in shale rock.  The Telegram reported
that the Minister’s enquiries “will help inform the province as it makes decisions
on whether or not to allow the procedure here”.

The Minister
did say, “I want to make sure any decisions here are based on science and not
emotion”.  But, if he had been true to
his word he would have stayed at home and let experts in the fields of geology,
environmental protection and petroleum development regulations become engaged
in Government’s ‘fracking’ policy.  An
intelligent and science based “White Paper” would have been a useful result.

Such an
approach would not satisfy the “Not In My Back Yard” types (NIMBY’S) or
those whose minds are closed, but even they might find some comfort in
the notion that such an approach to policy making would be based on something more than a Kodak

Minister opined, to the Reporter, that he wanted to see “fracking of oil in
rock…I’ve been on the internet checking out things people are worried about.”  The Minister expressed surprise that the
people out in Weyburn “…are not having any problems with it at all…I was
looking at it negatively because all the information I’ve been getting it’s
been very negative.” Continues Marshall, “(t)hey haven’t had any water
contamination…any problems with water volume…haven’t had livestock
dying…haven’t had earthquakes.”

Then, using
all this intelligence, from Saskatchewan, the Minister councils: “…don’t base
your (fracking) decisions on one person or on one set of facts…on TV or

Think about
it.  If the Minister had volunteered to be
lowered several thousand feet down into a well bore or offered to be subjected
to the high pressure fluids injected for the purpose of fracturing the rock and
creating pathways to release the oil, which is essentially the explosive
process on which ‘fracking’ is based, we would have thought him crazy. 

But, is he
any less silly trying to understand the process going on several thousand feet
underground, as he stands in the middle of canola field, a pump-jack and a
local farmer attempting to impart, what he is unable to understand?  

What part
of the information, provided by the farmer, who told the Minister “no one is
concerned…” is even believable?  Afterall,
the Minister acknowledged, that the farmer was paid rents by the oil companies
occupying his land.

If this is
how public policy is created?  If it is, for
my own safety, I would happily join the NIMBY’S, too!

The process
of ‘fracking’ is actually not new.  What
is new is the scale of its application, especially in the U.S. It is new to us,
in NL.

“Shale beds
now produce more than a quarter of America’s natural gas, compared with just 1%
in 2000. America is on the way to becoming a net gas exporter”, according to
the Economist Newspaper. North Dakota and Texas have experienced major economic
revival singularly due to fracking;  other states, too, have joined the fracking
revolution to propel the United States towards oil and gas self-sufficiency, a
condition anticipated by 2030.

Does the
Minister not think that the U.S Geological Service might have more scientific
data to share or a plethora of public policy institutes, in the U.S.?

For all the
good it would do him, rather than being photographed with a pump-jack, the
Minister may as well have been pictured with the combined harvester!

Province has a top notch group of professionals, daily dealing with regulatory
matters of the offshore oil industry.  
The C-NLOPB, in spite of the Province’s best efforts to politicize its
senior management, is one of the unsung benefits of the 1985 Atlantic Accord. That
Agency possesses real experts who could very capably assist the Province
develop a public policy on hydraulic fracking and bring to the process a level
of credibility now lacking.

What should
the Minister’s statement have contained?

Minister’s announcement should have been formulated at home, not in Weyburn. It
should have said:

anticipation of receiving applications from oil and gas companies to perform hydraulic
fracturing activities in the Province, I have consulted experts and determined
a suitable course….

“I have asked
the senior officials in my Department to engage some of these experts, which
include professionals at the C-NLOPB, to compile the best science on this
unconventional form of oil and gas exploration and development…….

“Though we
wish to advance our economic development prospects, we will never endanger our
economy, our natural landscape or our people….I am taking this step to ensure
good policy will result….we will ensure that our environment and our
communities are fully protected recognizing that there are special places that
always must remain pristine, our Parks, our essential watershed areas…. “

If you want
to stay above emotion, above ignorance or fear, if you want to build some
safeguards around the inevitable influence of the NIMBY’S, and they will not be
few; if you desire public policies that are about reality, science, competence,
a level of confidence approaching certainty, you won’t get it from the farmer
in Weyburn.

Next Tom
Marshall should try a corn field.  He seems already in a maze.
Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?



    this link is from the western star from a public event in april of this year. Go through the comments, especially thise from graham oliver. In April marshall had the facts, yet a different story in july.

    Marshall is a smart guy and a gentlemen. However he is quick to proclaim things as being fact. This includes the average income of 400 million a year which muskrat falls will generate for the government. there is npthing further fromthe truth