03/20/2014 10:43 EDT | Updated 05/20/2014 05:59 EDT

Anti-shale gas opponents in New Brunswick band together for information tour

FREDERICTON - A collection of community groups and labour organizations opposed to shale gas development in New Brunswick is organizing a series of town hall meetings to be held across the province.

Jim Emberger of the New Brunswick Anti-shale Gas Alliance said the groups want to give people a voice in the debate over the industry's future.

"The government of New Brunswick has failed to provide the public with peer-reviewed, scientific evidence of the harmful effects of shale gas fracking and shale gas development," Emberger said Thursday in Fredericton.

The series of meetings, which begins next week, is called the Voice of the People Tour.

Emberger said while all the various groups have spoken out on the issue over the last four years, people are still looking for information and may have new questions.

The groups will present a number of recent studies from the United States that contradict the New Brunswick government's position that shale gas development can be done safely and will create jobs, he said.

Jean Louis Deveau of the Council of Canadians said the government has the wrong attitude towards the province's resources when it comes to the economy.

"Our premier is focused on the dig it up, cut it down and ship it out economy," Deveau said.

"We think there are all kinds of opportunities in clean energy that we haven't even started to talk about."

Premier David Alward has repeatedly stated his government will push ahead to help create a shale gas sector, adding that the cost of not moving forward is too great.

In January, Alward said SWN Resources and Corridor Resources have plans this year to drill exploratory wells that will help generate needed jobs and revenue.

The issue has led to public protests, including one that turned violent in Rexton in October when 40 people were arrested and six police cars set on fire.