Landmark Alberta Fracking Lawsuit Resumes in Calgary
Court-Klippensteins, Barristers & Solicitors
Alberta's Key Regulator Argues It Has No Duty of Care to Landowners
Friday Jan. 18 at Court of Queen's Bench
Suite 705-N, 601 - 5th St SW, Calgary T2P 5P7
10 AM to 4 PM
ROSEBUD, ALBERTA -- (Marketwire) -- 01/17/13 -- Jessica Ernst, a
55-year-old oil and gas industry consultant and scientist from
Rosebud, Alberta, returns to court this Friday to continue her
multi-million dollar lawsuit against EnCana, one of the continent's
largest unconventional gas producers, for negligence causing water
Her landmark lawsuit also alleges that the Alberta Energy Resources
Conservation Board (ERCB), the province's energy regulator, breached
her Charter Rights and failed to "exercise a reasonable standard of
care, skill and diligence in taking reasonable and adequate steps to
protect her well water from foreseeable contamination caused by
drilling for shallow methane gas."
Recent Court of Appeal decisions show the ERCB has a history of not
upholding its own laws and even the Royal Society of Canada chided
the agency for a 2007 incident in which the regulator spied on
landowners and damaged "its credibility as an independent
In a court document filed on December 5/2012, the ERCB argues that it
is exempt from liability for its actions in the Ernst case and that
it owes no "duty of care" to landowners impacted by oil and gas
"I suspect that most Albertans will be shocked to learn that the
province's oil and gas regulator is arguing that it is totally immune
from legal accountability even if there is gross negligence and
incompetence," says Murray Klippenstein, lawyer for Jessica Ernst.
Last December, an ERCB investigation found a company guilty of
"accidentally" perforating above the Base of Groundwater Protection
and contaminating groundwater near Grand Prairie but issued no fine
saying the incident "posed an insignificant risk to drinking water
resources" in a sandstone aquifer. One third of Alberta's population
is dependent on groundwater for drinking purposes.
During the last decade, EnCana perforated and fractured hundreds of
gas wells above the Base of Groundwater Protection at Rosebud. The
nue to allow EnCana to do this.
In December 2012, only after about 171,000 energy wells were already
fractured in Alberta, did the ERCB release draft regulations.
The $33-million lawsuit effectively puts on trial the practice and
regulation of hydraulic fracturing: the controversial blasting of
both shallow and deep coal, tight sands, oil and shale formations
with toxic chemicals, sand and water.
Neither EnCana nor the Alberta regulators have yet filed statements
of defence in response to Ms. Ernst's lawsuits regarding complaints
of water contamination that took place nine years ago.
EnCana, whose CEO abruptly resigned last week, has been the subject
of many recent public controversies. It remains the subject of a
major US government groundwater study in Pavillion, Wyoming linking
hydraulic fracturing to aquifer contamination as well as an ongoing
antitrust investigation in Michigan for allegedly colluding with
Chesapeake Energy to keep land prices low.
EnCana received record fines from Colorado's Oil and Gas Commission
for contaminating water in 2004.
For more information: www.ernstversusencana.ca/the-lawsuit.
Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors
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