L’eau qui brûle translation of Burning Water by Amie du Richelieu, May 15, 2013, article by Tadzio Richards, March 17, 2007, originally in Maisonneuve Magazine
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Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Daniel Kovalik, Jessica Ernst, Janine Bandcroft by Chris Cook, April 29, 2013, Gorilla Radio
Click and scroll to the bottom to access the podcast (Ernst interview at about 35 Min.)
And; in 1998, oil patch consultant, Jessica Ernst moved out to Rosebud, Wheatland County in Alberta’s heartland. She bought a little house on a tidy bit of land serviced by fresh wells sunk into the Rosebud aquifer. It was an idyllic spot, until EnCana arrived to carry out experiments on a new way to get money out of the ground. The new process was called “hydraulic fracturing,” and anyone who hasn’t heard of it by now, and the dangers it poses to water, wildlife, and people must be living with their head in a hole in the ground.
Those dangers have been exposed in the States, most famously in the documentary film, Gaslands, and dramatized in Matt Damon’s recently released feature film, ‘Promised Land.’ But despite the growing clamour against the practice, or perhaps because of it, fracking is progressing full tilt with ever more wells across ever-broadening jurisdictions.
When Jessica Ernst’s water went bad, she knew why and who was to blame. Ernst filed suit against EnCana, and the company’s enablers in the government of Alberta charged with regulating the industry and protecting the environment. But filing a suit is one thing, fighting it quite another.
Jessica Ernst and when David meets the whole Goliath clan in the second half.
Hydraulic Fracturning ['Fracking'] Worldwide. Jessica Ernst Of Rosebud, Alberta by Robin Mathews, April 29, 2013, vivelecanada.ca
Le fracking – pas de réponses, interdit de poser des questions translation of Robin Mathews’ article by Ami(s) du Richelieu, April 28, 2013
Hydraulic Fracturing [“Fracking”] Worldwide by Robin Mathews, April 27, 2013, RadicalPress.com
Hydraulic Fracturing [“Fracking”] Worldwide, Answers Not Forthcoming, Questions Not Allowed. Jessica Ernst of Rosebud, Alberta. Encana Corporation. Market Manipulation. Derivative Bubbles and The Fracking Wars by Robin Mathews, April 26, 2013, The Straight Goods
They merge. They interpenetrate. The thread of one weaves into the fabric of the others. “Fracking” operations rush past law, past regulation, past health and environmental concerns. Supporters of ‘quick cash’, gas ‘futures’ pass corporate-written law to silence land-owners, elected councils, voters … you and me.
Narrowly – “fracking” legislation and regulatory behaviour push aside, silence anyone questioning a dangerous procedure. Broadly – they strip away the Rule of Law, disenfranchise populations, ‘despotize’ governments.
In Alberta, Stephen Harper, Alison Redford, Encana Corporation, the newly appointed Alberta Regulator Gerard Protti (enforcing newly written law), and – so far – The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Neil Wittmann all merge … interpenetrate to hold off remedial action – to create toxic law, toxic wealth, toxic environment.
People waken worldwide and begin to battle corporations, “regulators”, police forces, legislatures, courts – the dominators determined to engage in “unconventional drilling” (hydraulic fracturing, ‘fracking’). Conflict on the subject continues. France (2011) Bulgaria (2012), and Tunisia have banned hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’). It continues in Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, the U.S.A., and more.
Hydraulic Fracturing is the intensive assault on shale, and coal beds, through multiple well bores (often invading water tables) to release marketable gas. “Fracking” uses giant amounts of sand, water, toxic chemical-mixes near the surface or miles down to fracture strata – ‘fracking’ – for marketable gas.
Said to be ‘old hat’ (sixty years old), present hydraulic fracturing to release marketable natural gas has new aspects and possesses multiple knowns and unknowns. Hyper-industrialization of agrarian sites: outcomes unknown. Increased earthquake activity: recorded. Unforeseen “leak gas” explosions: recorded. Increased cancer incidence close to oil and gas wells: measured. Ground water sources polluted: common, but extent and health effects unknown. Water Tables lowered: unpredictable but occurring. “Migration”/leaks of gases over time: unpredictable but certain and increasingly frequent. Toxic effects on water, soil, animal life, human health: certain, unregulated, largely unresearched, information repressed.
The commonly named ‘radioactive threat’ is only now starting to be researched. A. Rich, E.C. Crosby, University of Texas [New Solutions, Vol. 23 (1), 117-135, 2013] reveal (in layman’s language) that a cocktail of radioactive agents are set free especially by ‘unconventional’ (‘fracking’) gas operations. Radioactive agents are found in depositories [sludge storage, waste pits, storage pools] – AND in the land no longer used for those purposes.
“Out of Control: Nova Scotia’s Experience with Fracking for Shale Gas”, Report Summary, April 2013” reports that from the few test wells undertaken radioactive materials were found to be present “only several years after drilling and disposal of some of the waste….” (p. 4)
Jessica Ernst (Rosebud, Alberta) reports that sludge from fracking operations is spread on agricultural lands in Alberta.
In Alberta, (using Joyce Nelson’s words) “the government has introduced draconian legislation (Bill 2) that would strip landowners and others of their right to object to any energy project that would adversely and directly affect them.” (Watershed Sentinel, Jan-Feb, 2013) The determined action envisioned in Bill 2 is doubtless a response to Jessica Ernst’s $33 million lawsuit against Encana Corporation and Alberta’s regulator. And so – one may conclude – is the switching of judges on her case. And so is, one may conclude, (what I would call) the concerted delay engaged in by Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, Neil Wittmann. He is the highly dubious present judge on the Jessica Ernst case.
Something is seriously wrong in Canada. And globally. Evidence is mounting of real, multiple dangers in hydraulic fracturing. Legislatures should be restraining, researching, proving, regulating … preventing … at high speed. But legislatures, joining with corporations, courts, security forces are – often – deregulating, erasing evidence, punishing protesters, repressing criticism.
The whole operation world-wide is so dangerous, so untested, so irresponsible, so despotic, that reasons have to be available for largely unresearched, unregulated hydraulic fracturing in the face of its perils.
And reasons are available.
First. Think of Wiebo Ludwig (1941-2012) of Trickle Creek farm, Peace River, Alberta, fighting “Sour Gas” fracking. Sour gas “a potent neurotoxin, has left a legacy of death and destruction….” (Andrew Nikiforuk). Think of the attacks on Sour Gas operations around Trickle Creek. Think of the millions of dollars spent to investigate the attacks on Sour Gas fracking around Trickle Creek.
Think of the threats and attacks in B.C. near Chetwyn against Encana Corporation operations and the millions of dollars spent to investigate.
Think of the RCMP/Encana Corporation, alleged to have created a “false flag” and blowing up an Encana well site to spur on distress – no charges laid. Then think of the millions of dollars spent to investigate, charge, jail, and reinvestigate Wiebo Ludwig. One example of many: “RCMP conducted a four-day [fruitless] search of Trickle Creek (2010) involving over a hundred RCMP officers.” (Wikipedia)
Think of Wiebo Ludwig (but do not speak of him). Think of him driven to desperation by Sour Gas fracking. (But do not speak of him.) Think of his repeated (unanswered) pleas to Alberta government for regulation, for research, inquiry, and investigation of hydraulic fracturing. (But do not speak of him – or risk being accused of sympathizing with lawlessness, terrorist activity.)
Who will speak of the terrorism of Alison Redford, Stephen Harper, Encana Corporation, Gerard Protti and the Alberta Regulators, legislators of Alberta, and – so far – of Neil Wittmann, Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in openly, or tacitly, or passively accepting and/or furthering what many believe is a ruthless attack on the health, the well-being, the security, the privacy, the property, and the reasonable tranquility of honest, law-abiding, innocent Albertans?
Alberta may be seen as a poster-location for the kinds of violation named above. But – in various ways – such invasions are happening widely on the planet. And there is a reason.
LSE professor Lord (Nicholas) Stern and thinktank Carbon Tracker state in a recent Report noted by Damian Carrington in The Guardian (Apr. 19, 2013) that instead of “reducing efforts to develop fossil fuels, the top 200 companies spent $674bn…in 2012 to find and exploit more….” That is about the sum named in a 2006 report that would “pay for a transition to a clean and sustainable economy”.
Stock markets “are betting on countries’ inaction on climate change”, the Report says. Stock markets are creating a Carbon Bubble not unlike the massive mortgage/derivatives/fake credit scandal of 2008. “If all goes well” – I say – countries will insist on internationally agreed Climate Change targets, and the “Carbon Bubble” will burst because of over-valuation of oil, coal, and gas reserves held by fossil fuel companies. If all does not go well – Climate Change will ramp up beyond control.
It may be fair to say the same kinds of ‘investors’ are engaged in the present Carbon Bubble as were engaged in the 2008 blow-up … criminally irresponsible people willing to cause any kinds of destruction in their drive for wealth. The whole fossil fuels Bubble is being driven by greed … by big, irresponsible money.
To meet only present agreed Climate Change targets, it is estimated that at least two-thirds of present so-called fossil fuel ‘reserves’ will have to remain unexploited. But … instead of diminishing the push presently going on for hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’), it will probably intensify the push. As long as the pollutions created by hydraulic fracturing, by the huge environmental disruptions involved in its activities, and by the waste dumps it creates – as long as they aren’t registered by the present ‘Climate Change/global warming’ regulation machineries, the obviously destructive and dirty activity will be called “clean”.
(But science knows the methane gas leaking and leaking into the environment (almost unmeasured and unrecorded) from oil and gas operations is a potent climate changer! Methane is said to be 25 times more potent in relation to Climate Change than carbon dioxide. Who will bell the leaking methane cat?)
Redneck and Redford governments in Ottawa and Alberta (and elsewhere in the world) will attempt to criminalize any who resist “unconventional gas drilling” (‘fracking’). They will provide aid and comfort to corporations like Encana Corporation, and they will work to undermine courts seeking just adjudication of disputes about injury done from hydraulic fracturing. They will do what they can to push for Liquid Natural Gas pipelines – hoping that a Climate Change clampdown on conventional extractions will raise prices on Hydraulically Fractured Gas.
Here is huge field for environmentalists, many of whom are already engaged in the gigantic task of revealing that – however it may (or may not) register on Climate Change measuring devices – the pollution from unconventional gas drilling (hydraulic fracturing, ‘fracking’) is a very, very Dirty Wildcat. Out of (seemingly) nowhere, in the last twenty years at most, one of the dirtiest “mining” operations in history has come into play and into visibility.
The more governments – like the Redneck government in Ottawa and the Redford government in Alberta – are absorbed into private corporate operations and dictated to by those corporations, the more they will resist just demands by citizens and populations for regulation.
The fight is worth it. The outcome certain. People all over the globe will not, ultimately, permit huge corporations and huge governments to desecrate the planet. “The bigger they are”, remember, “the harder they fall.”
La fracturation hydraulique, le Canada et la justice translation of Robin Mathews’ article by Amie du Richelieu April 13, 2013
Alberta Fracking. Jessica Ernst Versus The Corporate/Government Enemy. (A Case For History.) by Robin Mathews, April 12, 2013, The Straight Goods
Take off the gloves. Take off the rose-tinted glasses. This is (as they say) for real. Alberta is after Jessica Ernst. And Alberta knows how to do it, has known for a long time. Alberta (you might say) means business (pun intended).
Almost no one in the ordinary population of Alberta (and fewer in the rest of Canada) understands the importance of the Jessica Ernst “fracking case” against Encana Corporation and the Alberta regulators (and against the Stephen Harper government as an active silent partner of the two others).
To win against someone fighting for the community, fighting for their own good and the good of others, Alberta knows there are steps to take. Alberta knows them all. There are six steps. The last one is the most important, the least visible … the most painful.
Step One: manoeuvre judges until the right one is in place. Alberta and Stephen Harper just did that. They manoeuvred Justice Barbara Veldhuis off the Jessica Ernst case against Encana Corporation and Alberta regulators. They manoeuvred Neil Wittmann, Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s bench, onto the case. Step One achieved.
They’ve known how to do that part of it for a long time. In the 1960s case for false arrest and malicious prosecution against then mayor of Edmonton William Hawrelak, the City Solicitor, and the Edmonton Chief of Police they did it. We had a sure case. We (the inexperienced plaintiffs) were moved from judge to judge to judge (being, as they say, ‘remanded’, for as many reasons as there were judges) until the last one.
Nice lawyers told us “he’s been waiting to get you”, waiting till enough remands put him on our case. Then? Well … then … I was convinced the case was carefully, embarrassingly rehearsed. Almost every witness for the Defence, I was certain, carefully perjured himself with the able assistance of the presiding judge … and our careless and inattentive lawyer. Rehearsed perjury. Almost everyone helping. Smooth as silk. We lost the case.
In the Kelly Marie Richard recent dental malpractice case in Calgary I believe judges were set up and changed whenever it was necessary to defeat Ms. Richard. She tells the story. Go to http://www.therichardtriggcase.com/summary.htm
The BC Rail Scandal trial is the poster case for judge-changing. After almost three years on the case, immersed in its complexities, Justice Elizabeth Bennett was lifted out by Stephen Harper in 2010 and replaced with Justice Anne MacKenzie – and the whole trial lurched out of shape, as – I am sure – it was intended to do. Gordon Campbell, long-time premier of B.C. and alleged king-pin in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR, was moved seamlessly by a Stephen Harper appointment to the position of Canadian High Commissioner in London, where he remains.
Step One: manoeuvre the judges to get the right one(s) in place. Step Two: manufacture, obstruct, or erase evidence as required. Step Three: Delay.
Even four hundred years ago, Shakespeare wrote (in Hamlet) about “the law’s delay, the insolence of office”. Alberta learned fast … about delay. Delay – as Jessica Ernst will no doubt tell you – is about bankrupting the claimant, dragging her, him, or them through expensive, unnecessary, time-consuming, stressful, unpredicted and unpredictable, destabilizing … delay. [Like the removal of Barbara Veldhuis and the waiting…and waiting…and waiting for prima donna Neil Wittmann …. ] Delay is about getting the person or persons fighting for self and community so worn down and bankrupted they quit. Simple.
When the stakes are high, when the claimant won’t quit – that’s not all. Few in Alberta, fewer in the rest of Canada, know just how high the stakes are in the case Jessica Ernst is taking against Encana Corporation and the Alberta Regulators. (And against the Stephen Harper government as an active silent partner of the two others.)
When the stakes are high enough, then the corrupt alliance – the Corporation/Government/Court enemy will do … anything. Watch them.
Step Four: change the regulator, re-name government bodies, appoint brazenly odious agents to head up regulation, write new legislation to stop the next Jessica Ernst. In short, do real and public relations things to block, confuse, and mask the issue. In response to the appointment of Gerald Protti to head Alberta’s new Energy Regulator, Mike Hudema of Greenpeace Canada was dumbfounded. Amazed. Wrongly. The appointment of Protti is – I believe – intended: both a threat and a promise of jackboot response to resistance.
Five: Threaten. The RCMP has already carefully questioned Jessica Ernst but has questioned none of the defendants.
Sometimes the threats get worse. In the 1960s Edmonton case against the mayor and others, ‘they’ threatened my life and the lives of our children. On the phone. Real people. Several times. A pleasant experience everyone should have. In Kelly Marie Richard’s recent Calgary malpractice case, Defence (with RCMP help) tried to get Ms. Richard (sharp, intelligent, capable) named mentally incompetent to act in court, threatened to force her into (quack?) psychological examination. That was only one of the threats used against her.
Step Six is the least visible, and the most important. It’s very simple. Destroy the person or persons taking the case.
Wouldn’t it be easier, you say, to take Jessica Ernst into a corner and say: “Get off our backs. Leave us alone. We’ll give you a lot of money – not $33 million, but a lot of money. Sign a note of confidentiality, keeping the agreement secret. End the bad publicity for us – and live happily ever after.” Jessica Ernst has already said she won’t go that secret route. Ever.
Encana Corporation and the Alberta regulators won’t go that route either. You may be sure. That would be to lose. They have to win, they think … no matter how they use lawyers and judges and RCMP to violate and trample the Canadian judicial system. I believe, they think they have to do everything they can to destroy Jessica Ernst. They believe they dare not lose.
After years of Kelly Marie Richard’s tenacious struggle wouldn’t it have been easier for the insurance company to take her aside and say “we’ll give you a lot of money, out of court, with a secrecy agreement? Just go away.” They wouldn’t do it. In their heads, I believe, they couldn’t do it. In their heads they didn’t dare lose – no matter how they had to use lawyers and judges and RCMP to violate and trample the Canadian judicial system.
Her case was based upon scientifically evidenced orthodontic malpractice. She couldn’t lose her case. And so it never really started. But it’s over. Completed, you might say, though it never was permitted to begin as a normal trial in court.
All the five steps were taken against Kelly Marie Richard and her sons in a long Case Management court battle in which (then) Associate Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Neil Wittmann was in charge of assigning judges, of manipulating (Kelly Marie Richard alleges) Case Management, and being deaf to pleas of improper behaviour. Richard’s absolutely clear, scientifically foolproof evidence of dental malpractice was never permitted to be presented in a fair trial!
Think about that. Kelly Marie Richard’s foolproof, scientific evidence was not permitted to be presented in fair trial in a case that ran six or seven years! That must be a record. Even for Neil Wittmann. Her “summary” [referenced here] only covers four years of Case Management, but her court torture went on … and on.
ING was the insurer for dental malpractice. CGI was the contracted corporation to supply court/legal services. McLeod Dixon was the law firm engaged against her.
In any honest court I am certain Kelly Marie Richard’s case could not receive a judgement in the insurance company’s favour. Period. And so she had to be destroyed. Kelly Marie Richard and her two sons ended up penniless, ruined, and in need of important, expensive care for the damage done by their orthodontic “treatment”. Their incontrovertible evidence was never seen by a trial judge or a jury.
Step Six: destroy the claimant. A fair, real trial taking place, won openly and publicly for the claimant is the same as an out-of-court settlement with a confidential, secret agreement. BOTH are a signal to other injured parties to act. Both show that genuinely wronged ordinary people facing huge corporations can get justice from Canadian courts. That idea had to be killed. I believe the present odious alliance of Alberta government, corporations, and the higher court (with Stephen Harper’s assistance) intend to kill – if they can – the possibility of justice in the Jessica Ernst case.
During the Kelly Marie Richard case she received a message from an expert telling her that if she won, her victory would be impetus for other, genuinely injured parties to undertake cases. And so she had to be destroyed. If she was carefully and completely destroyed financially, socially, and in every other way possible, the message to others would be “DON’T TRY. No matter how badly you have been injured and no matter how badly the public has been injured, DON”T TRY. Look what we did to Kelly Marie Richard and her sons. We’ll do it to you, too. SO DON”T TRY.”
Think of Jessica Ernst. Think of the increasing number of recorded injuries done to water quality, to water table levels, to agricultural operations, to property and to persons by hydraulic fracking in Alberta alone, as well as elsewhere in Canada, in Australia and other countries around the world. Think how Jessica Ernst’s victory will echo and echo around Alberta, around the rest of Canada, and around the world.
Think how quickly it will turn the corporation/government alliance to reform, to repair, to pass proper legislation, to set up genuine and meaningful oversight of operations … and more. Think of the number of payouts Encana Corporation, the Alberta regulators – and their counterparts around the world – will have to pay out to genuinely injured people. Just think….
You may be sure that is what Alison Redford, Stephen Harper, Encana Corporation*, the Alberta regulators, Neil Wittmann, and Gerald Protti, for instance, are thinking about every day. That is why I believe their intention is to destroy Jessica Ernst. Five of the six steps to stop people like her have already been set in motion. The sixth step is: Destroy Her.
Canadians must say – with growing and aggressive determination – “Jessica Ernst must win”. Canadians must be absolutely determined that Jessica Ernst will win – that the Corporate/Alberta government/higher court/Stephen Harper corrupt alliance will not be able to destroy her but will be forced to serve justice and Canadian democracy.
Jessica Ernst HAS to win her case – for herself, for Canadians, for Canada, for the Rule of Law, for democracy in Canada, for the world. Canadians can make sure Jessica Ernst has a full and fair trial. They must insert themselves into the conflict in whatever ways are necessary to assure she gets justice … to assure we all get justice in the matter. Something that will stop Step Six is an angry and informed public … and the public exposure of every dirty trick undertaken by the corrupt alliance.
*Encana Corporation Annual Shareholders Meeting, Tuesday, April 23, 2:00 p.m., Hotel Arts, Spectrum Ballroom, 119 – 12 Avenue Southwest, Calgary, Alberta.
Encana posts quarterly loss as hedging program, lower revenue take toll by Canadian Press, April 23, 2013, Calgary Herald
A combination of hedging and currency losses pushed Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) into the red in the first quarter but its operating earnings, while down from last year, were better than analysts expected. Encana had a US$431-million net loss, or 59 cents per share, and $179 million or 24 cents per share of operating earnings in the three months ended March 31, the Calgary-based gas producer announced Tuesday. The consensus estimate had been for nine cents per share of operating income, according to Thomson Reuters. The net loss including a $266 million unrealized hedging loss and $101 million in foreign exchange loss compared with a year-earlier profit of two cents per share or $12 million, when those non-operating items showed gains. Operating earnings — which the company and analysts believe are a more useful measure of Encana’s performance — were down from US$240 million or 33 cents per share in the first quarter of 2012. Revenue fell to US$1.06 billion from $1.8 billion a year earlier.. “We are pleased with the progress made to date in a number of our emerging plays and the growth in our overall liquids production,” Clayton Woitas, who became interim president and CEO after Randy Eresman abruptly left in January. Woitas said that one of Encana’s main goals this year is to prove the commercial success of emerging plays “while preserving the financial strength and flexibility of the company.” Encana, which reports in U.S. currency, said Tuesday it finished the quarter with approximately $2.9 billion in cash and cash equivalents and expects to finish the year with approximately $1.5 billion to $2.0 billion of cash and cash equivalents. “Our focus remains on reducing costs and increasing our profitability,” Woitas said.
“Through the first quarter we identified several areas where we can become more efficient in our business. We expect the cost reduction efforts we’ve made at the beginning of this year to have an impact on our financial results during the second half of the year.” Encana spun off its oil and refinery assets in 2009, forming Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE). The rationale behind the split was to allow investors to better see the value of each distinct side of the business. … In December, Encana inked a joint-venture deal with a subsidiary of PetroChina to develop gas from the Duvernay shale formation in west-central Alberta. The Chinese company will end up owning just shy of half of the 180,000 hectares Encana has in the Duvernay. Encana and PetroChina have a history: an earlier $5.4-billion joint-venture deal for Encana’s lands in the Montney region fell apart in mid-2011 after they failed to see eye-to-eye on how that project would operate. In February of last year, Encana reached a deal to sell 40 per cent of its undeveloped Cutbank Ridge lands in British Columbia to Mitsubishi Corp. of Japan for $2.9 billion. [Emphasis added]
Development in Rosebud by Dan Marcinkowski, April 17, 2013, Strathmore Standard
Developers are planning to build 17 residential sites, one storage site and one parking site in the Rosebud area. …
Water will be upgraded to make sure it safe and clean. [Emphasis added]
“Water” monitoring well drilled in the Hamlet of Rosebud in 2007, after EnCana frac’d the community’s drinking water aquifers (in 2004). Drilling of this “water” well was supervised by Dr. Alec Blyth previously with the Alberta Research Council (now Alberta Innovates) and Kevin Pilger, Investigator with Alberta Environment. The “water” well produced no water and so much methane and ethane, it forced the blue lid open, as shown in the above photo, and close up below.
Alberta Environment was required to license this water well as a gas well and installed a compression cap and lock. This gas well is located near or is in the planned residential subdivision of 17 homes.
e.g. “The City of Medicine Hat can apply to the ERCB for a setback relaxation to allow the placement of certain occupied structures and surface improvements closer than 100m, but no closer than 50m, to a wellhead.” [Emphasis added]
Fracking. The One Per Cent. Collapsing Canadian Courts. Jessica Ernst. by Robin Mathews, April 08, vivelecanada.ca
The $33 million case taken by Jessica Ernst against Encana Corporation, Alberta Regulators, and the Alberta government is running into very dubious obstacles.
Source: Radical Press.com
Fracking. The One Per Cent. Collapsing Canadian Courts. Jessica Ernst of Rosebud, Alberta by Robin Mathews, April 6, 2013, The Straight Goods
The One Per Cent, we know, control ‘the banks too big to fail’ and the corporations too powerful to regulate – which includes (among other things) fracking enterprises worldwide. The Canadian courts, we are beginning to know, operate – increasingly – outside the Rule of Law in matters concerning The One Per Cent … and fracking.
All over the globe fracking is fouling drinking water, lowering water tables, and endangering agriculture in the search, especially, for what is called “natural gas”. It is doing that in the area of Rosebud, Alberta, where Jessica Ernst makes her home.
All over the globe people are being affected, waking up alarmed, calling for investigation, research, regulation, laws to control fracking. Jessica Ernst, scientist, oil patch operative, has been doing that for … for going on a decade. Jessica Ernst has a 33 million dollar lawsuit against Encana*, Alberta Energy Regulators, and the Alberta government, a suit being propelled forward (very, very, very slowly) by the law firm called Klippenstein of Toronto, Ontario.
The fight is tough. The Alberta Regulator – The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has argued it’s immune from lawsuits and has “no duty of care” to citizens complaining of groundwater contamination. That indicates the ‘style’ of the conflict about fracking: just who is working for whom?
As if to underscore that “style”, a sort-of shake-up is going on in Alberta energy regulation. A new chair of Alberta energy regulation has been named: Gerald J. Protti, fifteen year officer at Encana and its predecessor PanCanadian Energy. Deborah Yedlin of Calgary Herald uses this phrase about his appointment: perhaps, she says, “putting the fox in charge of the hen house” (April 2, 2013). That doesn’t quite describe the appointment: the fox, after all, wants to eat the hens. Maybe the poetic image should be “putting the Mafia chief in charge of criminal investigations”. Whatever, Mr. Protti is not believed by many to be an objective choice. Par for the course.
Which takes us to the court and the astonishing (I don’t like to say it), almost unbelievable behaviour in the Court of Queen’s Bench, Calgary. (Par for the course?) To put the matter in very simple terms, I believe the administration of justice – in relation to Jessica Ernst’s case – is being brutalized and shredded by a combination of forces including the Stephen Harper forces in Ottawa and the Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench (with, doubtless, a cheering section from Alberta government and “the industry”).
The people behind the behaviour of Stephen Harper and Queen’s Bench are not openly visible. You might say they’re The One Per Cent.
In brief, the judge on the Case Management process, Justice Barbara Veldhuis, about to rule on whether Jessica Ernst can sue the government regulator, was promoted from the Court of Queen’s Bench to the Alberta Appeals Court, removed, and prevented from making a finding. By the merest chance, the Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Neil Wittmann volunteered to take over the matter. And has done so.
All that, I suggest, is probably fraudulent behaviour.
To begin, the promotion of Barbara Veldhuis stinks to high heaven. Why did she need to move? She didn’t. Who moved her? The only person in Canada who could move her is Rob Nicholson, minister of justice, Ottawa – by which we may say Stephen Harper. Why would Stephen Harper want to reach into the Alberta higher court system and move Barbara Veldhuis?
The answer can only be, I suggest, someone feared that she was about to rule against the interests of The One Per Cent.
The promotion of Barbara Veldhuis, we may say, was ridiculous, unnecessary, and timed to destroy her work on the Jessica Ernst case. We may say more.
Members of either of the senior Alberta courts mentioned – Queen’s Bench and Court of Appeal – are ex officio members of the other court (if the Wikipedia material on the Alberta courts is correct). Members of those courts are – at the very least – able (at the direction of the Chief Justice) to work in the other court. And so Barbara Veldhuis could be promoted to the Alberta Appeals Court and could also make the ruling on the Jessica Ernst application in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
The whole business of promoting Justice Veldhuis and moving her and preventing her from making the ruling is … I suggest, sham, smoke-and-mirrors, a fraud. The shifting of judges on sensitive cases must be seen for the dangerous activity it is.
Remember that in British Columbia in 2010 a similar action occurred. That action directly connects the Alberta Jessica Ernst case with the B.C. Supreme Court BC Rail Scandal case. And … Neil Wittmann, Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, is involved in both events.
Supreme Court of B.C. Justice Elizabeth Bennett was swiftly removed from the BC Rail Scandal trial as a result of her promotion, by Stephen Harper, to the Appeals Court. She was replaced by Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie who, some allege, was placed there to protect premier Gordon Campbell, his team, and all the powerful private operators who are alleged to have corruptly transferred BC Rail to the CNR.
There is more. Anne MacKenzie was, within weeks, raised by Stephen Harper to the position of Associate Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court. And then in some months she was raised by Stephen Harper to the B.C. Appeals Court.
A key fact of her time as judge on the BC Rail Scandal (Basi, Virk, and Basi) case, was that she permitted in her court a Special (Crown) Prosecutor who she was told, formally, was appointed to his position in flagrant violation of the legislation governing the appointment of Special Prosecutors.
Such appointees have to be completely objective and wholly unconnected to political power and civil service officers. But the Special (Crown) Prosecutor, William Berardino, was appointed to the case by a ministry of the Attorney General in which the Attorney General had been his partner and colleague for seven years, and the Deputy Attorney General had been his partner and colleague for eleven years.
The evidence of the Special Prosecutor’s illegitimate appointment was so stark that I wrote to the Chief Justice, the Associate Chief Justice and the judge on the case – on two separate occasions, formally reporting the illegitimate appointment. They answered, refusing to act.
Two of the accused were cabinet appointed aides reporting to cabinet members and acting on their behalf. And so the appointment of the Special Prosecutor, as I say, was in flagrant violation of the legislation governing such appointments. He was simply too connected (in fact and in perception) to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General to have been appointed. There is not the slightest question about that.
Unsatisfied with the replies I received from the top judges of the B.C. Supreme Court, I decided to address a complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council – the highest body in the country. I made a formal complaint of misconduct on the part of Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie in the matter of knowing the Special Crown Prosecutor in her court was there by illegitimate appointment. She was conducting herself as if he was a legitimate appointment and so she was sullying the administration of justice.
The Canadian Judicial Council elected to have the Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Neil Wittmann deal with my complaint. On his behalf (as is standard practice) his agent on the Council replied to me. He declared that Chief Justice Neil Wittmann concluded that the conduct of Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie (which I had pointed out) was a not matter of conduct. He dismissed my complaint.
I allege that his action supported an illegitimate trial, supported the major wrong-doers in the BC Rail Scandal, and supported the action of Stephen Harper in ‘conveniently’ promoting Justice Elizabeth Bennett, making way for Justice Anne MacKenzie.
That is the same Chief Justice Neil Wittmann who did not protest when Justice Barbara Veldhuis was promoted, did not exercise his discretion as Chief Justice to permit her as ex officio of both courts to make a finding on the Jessica Ernst application, and who volunteered himself to take over the Jessica Ernst action in Case Management with what must be deleterious results.
If he decides to re-hear arguments on the application that were presented in Calgary court in January 2013, he will be choosing to force Jessica Ernst to exceptional expense and delay. If he chooses merely to read the transcripts of the arguments presented, he will be placing Ms. Ernst at risk of being misunderstood in the presentations made both for her by her lawyers and against her by those opposed to her
A fundamental convention of such cases is that judges are not changed – for the obvious reason that they carry all the information forward as the case develops. Plainly, Chief Justice Wittmann is at sea on this case, wallowing, and is going to have, somehow, to start afresh, causing anxiety, financial cost, delay, and stress to Jessica Ernst. But, for all we know, that may be precisely (with Neil Wittmann’s and Stephen Harper’s cooperation) what The One Per Cent (who seem to be in charge of this case) want to have happen.
Chief Justice Neil Wittmann can’t help being suspected by many people of simply being a “plant” on the case to make certain that justice will never be done. The strange, sudden, and unusual shifts in the case bring the administration of justice into disrepute, even in the unlikely possibility that they are honest shifts. For all we know, additional facts calling Neil Wittmann’s role into question may well surface in the coming weeks and months.
What Canadians have to see clearly in these two important cases is that, I allege, the Stephen Harper forces in Ottawa interfered with the administration of justice in a manner that prevented justice from being done. I believe they interfered intentionally to pollute the administration of justice.
Canadians must also see clearly that all the other judges of the higher courts in British Columbia and Alberta – and the Law Societies of both provinces – consented (by inaction) to the pollution – even when they were not a material part of it. We are witnessing the collapsing Canadian courts … and the eroding Canadian legal system.
We are witnessing here, in particular, what I take to be a highly organized and concerted attack upon Jessica Ernst and her case by the federal ministry of justice (directed by Stephen Harper) and by the most powerful officer of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench -with the silent assent of legal experts who should be protesting loudly and publicly at the attack on the most basic foundations of democratic society. [Emphasis added]
* ENCANA CORPORATION. Annual General Meeting, April 23, 2:00 p.m. Hotel Arts Spectrum Ballroom, 119 – 12 Avenue Southwest, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
[Refer also to:
Alberta’s Top Judge to Hear High Profile Fracking Case Flaming tap water lawsuit by Jessica Ernst faced delay after previous judge promoted Ernst versus Encana – les juges jouent à la chaise musicale translations of Andrew Nikiforuk’s articles on the case by Amie du Richelieu
Fracking: Feds Throw Wrench in High Profile Lawsuit Judge suddenly promoted; plaintiff Ernst sees strategy to ‘delay and exhaust.’ Gaz de houille – le fédéral veut décourager Jessica Ernst
How Alberta Will Fight Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst In famous flaming water case, regulator to argue ‘no duty of care’ to landowners or groundwater. Gaz de schiste – Jessica continue son procès
Source: Don Williams
Is natural gas green? When you’re addicted to the planet by Adria Vasil, March 21-28, 2013, Vol. 32 No. 29, NOW
Put the word “natural” in front of anything and it sounds so much sweeter, doesn’t it? Unless it turns out to be a natural disaster. Canada is the world’s third-biggest supplier of natural gas, to which you may respond, “Amazing! We’re fully loaded with a squeaky-clean-burning source of energy!” But is it as clean and green as its marketers would have us believe? It depends on how and where you get it. There’s our “conventional” gas that’s basically easy-access free gas found trapped below rock. And then there’s Canada’s biggest “unconventional” supply, meaning it’s a pain in the ass to get at (tightly locked in shale, coal beds, tight gas sands) and makes a fracking mess of things via hydraulic fracturing.
Many Canadians, especially in Ontario, have the impression that fracking is an unfortunate American problem, the process you see Matt Damon dramatizing in Promised Land or director Josh Fox documenting in GasLand. Alas, that’s far from the case. The ecological devastation that accompanies the high-pressure injection of millions of litres of water and tens of thousands of litres of chemicals per underground well is a reality in Canada, too. One biologist and former enviro consultant to the oil and gas biz in Alberta, Jessica Ernst, went public in 2006 about the burns she was getting from her shower and the fires she could light at her taps after Encana fracked into her aquifer. She’s suing Encana as well as the Alberta Environment and Energy Resources Conservation Board for $33 million, refusing to settle if it means signing a confidentiality agreement, which purportedly is what others have been doing.
Over in BC, records are being broken by the biggest hydraulic fracking ops in North America, triggering a slew of mini-earthquakes and a day of action against heavy fracker Chevron at the end of the month. Right now, there’s no fracking in Ontario – the Libs are “reviewing” their rules around the whole issue. To mark World Water Day today (Thursday, March 21), tell your MPP you want a Quebec-style moratorium. And tell your MP the same thing, especially in light of the federal enviro commissioner’s recent assessment showing that Ottawa is way too lax on fracking. The oil and gas biz is exempt from reporting the chemicals being pumped into the ground, which means Environment Canada and Health Canada can’t research and track fracking’s impact.
Don’t take the natural gas your pad uses for granted. Turn your furnace down, take shorter hot showers and try a few more raw food meals – beyond this weekend’s Earth Hour.
Permalink to: Is natural gas green? When you’re addicted to the planet
Gaz de schiste – Entrevue avec Jessica Ernst translation by Amie du Richelieu, April 3, 2013 of Jessica Ernst, The Consequences of Fracking 6:57 min. by CaptureMeFilms, May 21, 2012, Michigan USA
Jessica Ernst, en tournée au Michigan, a accordé cette entrevue. J’en ai fait la transcription et fait la traduction libre en français. Je crois que c’est une opinion valable d’une scientifique avec de l’expérience dans l’industrie. Ce qu’elle dit, il ne faut jamais l’oublier.
Jessica Ernst, spécialiste en environnement, baccalauréat ès sciences, maîtrise en Sciences
“J’ai une maîtrise en sciences et un diplôme de premier cycle en biologie environnementale. J’ai travaillé pour les 30 dernières années pour l’industrie pétrolière et gazière. C’est toujours mon emploi, bien sûr, mais parce que je dénonce, j’ai très peu de travail. J’ai fait du monitorage de flore et de faune sauvage dans des régions où il se fait de l’exploitation pétrolière et gazière dans les sables bitumineux ainsi que dans les régions gazières du nord-ouest de l’Alberta. Nous avons fait un projet d’évaluation d’impacts cumulatifs de 10 ans dans la région Chinchaga, dans le nord-ouest de l’Alberta, ce qui est ma grande passion. Et mon entreprise a fait beaucoup d’évaluation d’impacts cumulatifs, des évaluations d’impacts environnementaux et de la consultation auprès des Premières Nations, de plusieurs communautés, avec des guides et des trappeurs: les gens qui seraient affectés par ces développements.
Question: Avez-vous travaillé originalement pour la compagnie qui fait beaucoup de fracturations hydrauliques?
Oui. Je n’étais pas une employée. J’étais consultante pour Encana pendant quelques années. J’ai travaillé pour Pan Canadian. Encana est une fusion de 2 grosses compagnies en Alberta: et l’une d’elle était Pan Canadian et l’autre était Alberta Energy Corporation, et les deux ont leur propre historique intéressante. Alberta Energy Corporation en réalité tourmentait les gens dans le nord-ouest de l’Alberta et dans le nord-est de la Colombie-Britannique, et il y a toute une histoire à raconter là-dessus mais ils ont été pris sur le fait par la GRC, la Gendarmerie Royale du Canada, car ils faisaient exploser eux-mêmes leur propre puits de gaz pour qu’un propriétaire terrien impliqué devienne victime d’un coup monté. Alors ce passé vient avec Encana.
Mon histoire avec la compagnie était que je travaillais plusieurs décennies pour Pan Canadian et j’ai toujours pensé que cette compagnie était la meilleure des deux. Quand les deux ont fusionné, c’était comme si le meilleur d’une compagnie s’était envolé et tout le mauvais a été révélé, plus que jamais.
La promesse “Nous sommes de bons voisins”, tout en arrivant dans les communautés et les abuser, les diviser pour mieux les conquérir, en promettant un peu d’argent, de ridicules petits pot-de-vin pour l’Alberta. En Amérique, au moins les gens s’attendent à plus et reçoivent des millions! En Alberta, les gens se vendent, eux et leurs enfants et leur communauté, pour quelques milles dollars. C’est incroyable, selon moi.
Ensuite prendre ce petit montant d’argent pour alimenter le côté sombre de la nature humaine, un phénomène que je trouve fascinant à observer, et ensuite s’en servir pour empêcher les communautés de demeurer cohésives. Les communautés avaient l’habitude de prendre soin des leurs. Maintenant, avec ce nouveau pétrole et gaz non conventionnel, ce que je découvre, c’est que les compagnies ont compris: aucune communauté en santé ne permettrait la fracturation hydraulique, alors elles doivent rendre les communautés malades. Et elles réussissent en alimentant le côté sombre de la nature humaine, qui est la cupidité, la paresse, l’égoïsme: elles alimentent l’égo, elles promettent un tout petit peu et ensuite whammo! La communauté est divisée.
Les personnes avec des préoccupations sont ensuite abusées par les gens qui veulent encore plus d’argent. Et Encana n’a même pas besoin de faire le sale travail. Beaucoup d’autres compagnies, les gens dans la communauté, font leur sale travail pour eux. C’est une technique incroyablement brillante. Cela fonctionne très bien. Partout où il se fait de la fracturation hydraulique, cela se passe comme çà…
Et ma conclusion comme scientifique et comme biologiste environnementale ou spécialiste en environnement qui a travaillé pour cette industrie, ma conclusion est ceci: aucune communauté en santé sur cette planète ne permettrait la fracturation hydraulique parce que ce n’est pas sécuritaire, c’est impossible, même avec les meilleurs règlements et la meilleure règlementation.
L’industrie a dit hier soir ici au Michigan que les règlements ici empêcherait ce qui nous est arrivé à Rosebud, en Alberta, parce qu’il n’y a pas de formation de houille ici. C’est ridicule! Parce que personne ne sait ce qu’ils vont finir par faire, profondément ou en surface au Michigan, et peu importe les formations géologiques ou quels types de schiste, l’industrie utilise toujours l’excuse: “Oh, non, non, non, mais ce qui c’est produit durant ce terrible incident là-bas, cette horrible pollution qui s’est produit là-bas, cela n’arrivera jamais ici.” Mais on dirait que cela se produit tout le temps. Et les impacts sont les mêmes. Et l’industrie sait que les impacts sont là.
Question: Pouvez-vous donner des exemples de ce que vous venez de dire?
Oh oui! En Alberta, en Amérique, au début des années 1990, ils ont commencé à faire de la fracturation hydraulique pour du gaz de houille. Et c’était plus profond, et ces compagnies-là ont causé de la pollution terrible et beaucoup d’aquifères ont été compromis. Plusieurs puits d’eau potable, et il y a eu un recours collectif au début des années 1990, et la USGS (United States Geological Survey) a fait une étude de plusieurs années faite par Chafin. Il était arrivé à la conclusion que la nature n’était pas la cause de la migration de gaz et que des fractures faites par l’homme et ses activités avaient provoqué la majorité de l’apparition de gaz à la surface dans la région.
Le recours collectif s’est réglé hors cour, malheureusement, et si l’on se fie à ce que les avocats en ont dit, il y a eu des ententes de confidentialité.
Alors quand ce procédé a commencé en Alberta, pendant qu’Encana avait déjà commencé à faire des expériences en secret dans ma communauté en nous mentant, nos politiciens et l’industrie tenaient ces réunions extraordinaires pour les apparences en nous promettant: “Oh, ce qui s’est passé en Amérique n’arrivera jamais ici en Alberta. Oh, non! Nous allons aller beaucoup plus profondément; nous allons aller seulement beaucoup plus profondément qu’où se trouve l’eau potable. Nous avons la meilleure règlementation aux monde. Non. Ce qui est arrivé en Amérique ne se produira jamais ici en Alberta. Nous avons des régulateurs de classe mondiale. Nous ne permettrons pas le bruit. Nous ne permettrons pas la poussière, et l’usure des routes, et la destruction des communautés. Nous ne laisserons pas les compagnies enfreindre aux lois.” Mais ils l’ont fait!
Alors, aujourd’hui, il y a une Canadienne qui vient vous voir au Michigan, et je trouve cela fascinant!
Alors, durant les années 1990, les Américains étaient dévastés par le développement du méthane de houille. Ils commencent ce développement avec la fracturation hydraulique en Alberta. Ils nous promettent que çà ne nous arrivera jamais à nous ce qui s’est produit en Amérique. Je viens au Michigan, j’ai été invitée ici pour avertir les gens du Michigan. Et l’industrie dit: “Non, non, non! Ce qui vous est arrivé ne se produira pas ici.” Mais cela s’est déjà produit! Dans un autre état, c’est tout.”
MICHIGAN INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT by Amie du Richelieu
“I have a Master’s of Science and an undergraduate degree in Environmental Biology. I worked for the last 30 years in the oil and gas industry. I still do but of course, but speaking out, I get very little work. I did wildlife monitoring in oil and gas development areas in the tar sands as well as in the natural gas field in the north-west Alberta. We did a 10 year cumulative effects assessment project in the Chinchaga area of north-west of Alberta which was my big passion. And my business did a lot cumulative affect assessments, environmental impact assessments and consultation with First Nations, communities, guides, trappers: the people who would be affected by these developments.
? Did you originally work for the company that’s doing a lot of the fracking?
Yes. I wasn’t an employee. I consulted to Encana for quite a few years. I worked for Pan Canadian. Encana was merged between two big companies in Alberta: and one of them was Pan Canadian and one of them was Alberta Energy Corporation and they both have their own interesting history. Alberta Energy Corporation was actually tormenting people in Northwest Alberta and Northeast British Columbia and there’s a big story there but they were caught in with the RCMP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and blowing up one of their own gas wells to try to frame a concerned landowner. And so that history comes into Encana.
My history with the company, was, I worked a number of decades for Pan Canadian and I always thought they were a much better company. When the two merged, it was a though the good in the company vanished and all the evil came out, bigger than ever before.
? inaudible question by interviewer
The promise of “we are a good neighbor”, while coming in and abusing communities, dividing and conquering, promising a little bit of money, embarrassingly tiny little bribes in Alberta. In America at least the people expect and get millions! In Alberta, the people sell themselves out and and their children and their community for a few hundred thousands dollars. It’s incredible to me.
And then using that little bit of money to feed into the dark side of human nature, which I’ve really found fascinating to observe, and then using that to prevent communities from staying cohesive. Communities used to take care of their own. Now, with this new unconventional oil and gas, what I’m finding, the companies have learned: no healthy community will allow hydraulic fracturing, so they have to make the communities sick. And they do so by feeding the dark side of human nature, which is greed, sloth, selfishness; they feed the ego, they promise a little bit and then whammo! The community is divided. The people with concerns are then abused by the people who want more money. And Encana doesn’t even have to do the dirty work. A lot of the other companies, the people in the communities, do the dirty work for them. It’s an incredibly brilliant technique. It works very well. Everywhere they’re fracking, this is happening…
And my conclusion as a scientist and as an environmental biologist or environmental specialist that has worked in this industry, my conclusion is that: no healthy community on this planet would allow hydraulic fracturing because it is not safe, it is impossible to do even with the best rules and regulations.
Industry said last night here in Michigan that the rules here would prevent what happened to us in Rosebud Alberta because there are no coal formations here. That is ridiculous! Because nobody knows what they are going to end up doing deep or shallow in Michigan, and regardless of what formations there are or what type of shales, industry always uses the excuse: “Ho, no no no, but what happened in that terrible instance over there, that horrible pollution that happened there, that will never will happen here.” but it always seems to. And the impacts are the same. And industry knowing that the impacts are there.
? Can you site examples of what you just said?
Oh yes, in Alberta, in America, in the early nineties, they began doing experimental fracking for coalbed methane. And it was deeper, and the companies there created terrible pollution and lots of aquifers where compromised. Many water wells and there was a massive class action lawsuit in the early nineties, and the USGS did a multi-year study by Chafin; he concluded that nature was not the culprit for gas migration and that man-made fractures and activities caused most of the near surface gas in the area.
The class action lawsuit settled out of court, unfortunately, and sounds like from what the lawyers have stated, with confidentiality agreements.
So when this process began in Alberta, while Encana was already experimenting in my community in secret while lying, our politicians and industry where having these big circus show meetings promising: “Oh what happened in America will never happen in Alberta. Oh no, we’re going to be far deeper, we’re only going to be far below where the drinking water is. We have the best in the world regulations. No. What happened in America will never happen here in Alberta. We have world class regulators. We won’t allow the noise. We won’t allow the dust, and the road degradation, and the destruction of communities. We will not let companies break the law.” But they did!
So now here’s a Canadian coming to Michigan and I find this fascinating!
So we have in the nineties, Americans devastated by coalbed methane development. They start this development with hydraulic fracturing in Alberta. They promise us it will never happen to us, what happened in America. I’m coming to Michigan, I’ve been invited to come here to warn people in Michigan. And industry says “No no no, what happened to you will never happen here.” But it already has! Just in a different state.”
Permalink to: Gaz de schiste – Entrevue avec Jessica Ernst translation
Ernst versus Encana – les juges jouent à la chaise musicale translation Of Andrew Nikiforuk’s article by Amie du Richelieu March 30, 2013
Alberta’s Top Judge to Hear High Profile Fracking Case by Andrew Nikiforuk, March 29, 2013, TheTyee.ca
Klippenstein told The Tyee. “We hope that the case can now move forward without unnecessary delay. Albertans are entitled to know what really happened in Rosebud.” … On March 19 the Alberta Association for Municipal Districts and Communities (AAMDC), which represents much of rural Alberta, voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for stricter regulation of hydraulic fracturing and higher levels of protection for groundwater in the Province. …
Wwheatland County Councillor Brenda Knight…says she introduced the resolution after gathering evidence on several hydraulic fracturing incidents in her county. They included groundwater contamination, water well losses, improper well casing, and large openings that have appeared unexpectedly in the ground. In one case a farmer “lost his tractor in a spring that opened up.” …
Jessica Ernst is a resident of Wheatland County….
[Refer also to:
Gaz de schiste - un développement à 'petite échelle' passerait par Bécancour [English at link] by Sébastien Lacroix, March 29, 2013, Le Courrier Sud
Fracking: Feds Throw Wrench in High Profile Lawsuit Judge suddenly promoted; plaintiff Ernst sees strategy to ‘delay and exhaust.’ Gaz de houille – le fédéral veut décourager Jessica Ernst
How Alberta Will Fight Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst In famous flaming water case, regulator to argue ‘no duty of care’ to landowners or groundwater. Gaz de schiste – Jessica continue son procès
Albertan, Tired of Her Tap Water Catching Fire, Sues Scientist Jessica Ernst hits gas giant EnCana, regulators with fracking lawsuit. ]
AAMDC frac motion commotion by Sharon McLeay, March 15, 2013, Strathmore Times
Vicki Balance of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers addressed a letter to Wheatland Council expressing the Association’s policies of adhering to [voluntary] best business practises in natural resource development. “I have received a few phone calls on this issue,” said Reeve Glenn Koester. “I see it as the difference between best practises and regulation. In our proposal, we want regulation.” Municipal District passed the proposal and advanced it to AAMDC headquarters. Confirmation whether the proposal will be forwarded to the minister will be decided at the March AAMDC Convention.Council considered the proposal as a preventative method to make sure all companies adhere to best business practises and because they had no means to regulate practises at the County level. Councillor Don Vander Velde said his discussions with drillers indicate that no assurances can be given on what is happening underground at over 1500 feet. Councillor Ken Sauve commended resource companies who adhere to best practises and he agreed there were many companies that were not getting enough credit. However, he included that there is always room for improvements. Balance indicated in the letter that Alberta has some of the toughest standards in the world and that we are better protected here than in other areas.
EnCana waste dumping on Rosebud foodland in 2012, Screen Capture from FrackingCanada’s Short Film Home
Not all Albertans would agree that best practises take place at all times.There is an ongoing law suit initiated by Rosebud area resident Jessica Ernst, concerning fracing practises that she contends contaminated area well water. In an unexpected move by the Federal Department of Justice the Ernst case was delayed, and perhaps jeopardized, by the promotion of Honourable Barbara L. Veldhuis, the judge presiding over the case. She was appointed to the Court of Appeal of Alberta on February 8, just as she was about to make a ruling in the case that has attracted worldwide attention. Ernst said she does not know yet what will happen. Lawyers representing Ernst asked that that Judge Veldhuis, who heard the legal arguments, rule and the court accept her judgement, but they were told that it would not be an option. They were given two options that might happen; one was to start over, which will cost a lot of money, and time, especially if she is made to pay the defendants’ legal fees. The second option was for the new judge appointed to the case to read the legal briefs filed by the defendants as Encana didn’t file any briefs, and read the court hearing transcripts of Jan. 18, and rule. “I’m not discouraged, at least not yet, but I am reeling in shock,” said Ernst. “We’ve been forced into an impossible position. Either way, I am concerned it is bad for the case and very bad for Alberta’s groundwater. Industry, regulators and governments assure us that we have the courts to make everything right when we get frac’d and our water goes bad.” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
“Many fleas make big dog move” : Jessica Ernst’s inspirational talk by Stopfyldefracxking.org.uk, March 8, 2013
Jessica Ernst chatting to residents
A huge thanks to all who came to the Jessica Ernst talk, “Fracking Community: Actions and Omissions Speak Louder than Words“ on Thursday 7 March. The church hall in St Annes was packed, and the audience was respectful and attentive as Canadian scientist Jessica portrayed the realities of living in a fracking area with precision and factual depth. We were all appalled as she told us how the water in her community had become polluted – how the fracking companies spray their waste on agricultural land – how the Alberta government changes regulations to benefit the energy companies – but worst of all – how she is now classified as a terrorist by her government. A terrorist! What did she do? She dared to take on energy company EnCana and the Alberta government. You can read about her legal case here. Many of her experiences left the audience stunned – some were crying – all were moved. It was Jessica’s first visit to the Fylde and she was impressed by the beauty of its coastline and rural areas, but used to the vast open spaces of Canada, she said that she could not understand how it would be possible to frack such a densely populated area.
Jessica’s story is the reality of fracking. This happened in a rich and developed country, whose government boasted that it had the best regulations in the world. It seems that even the best regulations can be adapted to benefit the energy companies to the detriment of people’s health and lives. There is absolutely no reason to believe that it will be any different in the UK. There is hope. As Jessica pointed out, we are so much better informed than she was at this stage of the process. She quoted a Chinese proverb, ’Many fleas make big dog move’. We need to become that mass of fleas – quickly. [Emphasis added]
Fracking on the Fylde 7:35 Min. Interview with Jessica Ernst by Wave 965, March 7, 2013
A Candian Scientist is visiting St Annes to share her expiriences of fracking for shale gas. Jessica Ernst is visting the area as part of a national tour to highlight the dangers associated with the conterversial gas extraction. She’s suing the company that has been fracking near her home. Proposals have been made to make more than 800 wells in the Fylde. Local residents’ group, RAFF (Resident Action on Fylde Fracking hope that the meeting will provide residents a wider picture so they can make an informed decision. They’re meeting at the United Reformed Church on St George’s Road.
Permalink to: Fracking on the Fylde
In Alberta And B.C.: Stephen Harper Destroying The Rule Of Law by Robin Mathews, February 25, 2013, Vivelecanada.ca
Alberta energy specialist Andrew Nikiforuk (Tyee, Feb. 22, 2013) reports the involvement of the federal Minister of Justice in what may be called direct interference with the rule of law in Alberta. The story Nikiforuk tells leaves the trail of malfeasance clear and examinable. In “a stunning move the Harper government” – through the Department of Justice (reports Andrew Nikiforuk) – has promoted a key judge (in a landmark fracking case) from the Court of Queen’s Bench to the Alberta Court of Appeal. As Andrew Nikiforuk puts it, the move was made in order to remove Justice Barbara L. Veldhuis, presiding judge, from “the multi-million dollar ($33 million) lawsuit” being pressed by Jessica Ernst in the matter of fracking pollution and those responsible for it.
Madam Justice Veldhuis will be replaced. Her replacement will automatically be questionable – suspected of being a “plant” to prejudice the case in favour of Stephen Harper and Encana, one of Canada’s largest natural gas producers. Readers need to know that the judge on a case is usually – for very obvious reasons – bound to that case. The judge is said to be “seized” with the case – meaning responsible for all aspects of it from beginning to end. Being “seized” usually means not to be interfered with, not unnecessarily delayed, NOT REPLACED without very sound reason – because the judge knows most about the complications of the case. The judge is “seized” also because law and courts have a long history of powers of all kinds wanting to get rid of judges in order to tamper with, change, and/or redirect the judgement in cases. That is one of the reasons a judge is “seized” – so that any meddling by power can be seen for what it is, an action intended to violate the fair administration of justice.
Jessica Ernst is fighting Encana. and was close to getting a ruling from Madam Justice Veldhuis that she could sue “Alberta’s energy regulator … for failing to uphold provincial rules, protect groundwater, and respect the constitutional rights of Canadians”. That ruling would have placed a burden of responsibility upon frackers that they have been doing everything they can to avoid [with the full support of Stephen Harper, anti-environmentalist]. The Harper Junta interference is, I suggest, mischievous, prejudicial, scandalous, and stunning in its obviousness.
But we have been there before. In the trial of Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, and Aneal Basi (part of the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR by the Gordon Campbell group) the judge “seized” with the matter was Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett. The pre-trial and trial ran from after the laying of charges in December 2004 to the outrageous explosive-ending of the trial in October 2010. But that ending happened without Elizabeth Bennett presiding.
For – like Justice Barbara L. Veldhuis in the fracking case – Bennett was removed in what many believe was a Stephen Harper decision to protect his ‘friends’ – Gordon Campbell and others.
If the cross-examination had continued in the same way – and it might have grown worse – the cover-up of major wrongdoers would, I am sure, have exploded. Something had to be done to end it. Backroom dealing went into high gear. The three accused agreed to what might be called charges reduced to almost nothing. The government of Gordon Campbell agreed to pay all of the ($6 million) costs of Defence. The $6 million (that might be called a bribe by some) to avoid criminal charges against top politicians and corporate ‘leaders’ (and perhaps some years behind bars for them) was cheap. It was a breach of procedure and was paid out of the pockets of the taxpayers of British Columbia – but what the hell! It worked. Stephen Harper’s ‘friends’ got out of it all unscathed – and without paying a penny – by the simple action of the Minister of Justice in Ottawa stepping in (on Stephen Harper’s orders?), and promoting Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett from the B.C. Supreme Court to the B.C Appeal Court. To prove his prowess in the matter, Stephen Harper then appointed Gordon Campbell to what is perhaps the highest diplomatic position a Canadian can hold – Canadian High Commissioner in London.
In both cases, in B.C. and Alberta, the Stephen Harper Junta has used the courts and the administration of justice, I believe, to violate trust, to support alleged wrongdoers who might be found to be in serious fault or even criminally responsible, and to make justice in Canada a plaything of corrupt power. I suggest that only a government powered by a psychopath could so viciously and openly attack the rule of law in Canada. [Emphasis added]
In Alberta And B.C.: Stephen Harper Destroying The Rule Of Law by Robin Mathews, February 24, 2013, The Straight Goods
GAZ DE HOUILLE – LE FÉDÉRAL VEUT DÉCOURAGER JESSICA ERNST translation by lesamiedurichelieu in Pressgauche.org, February 26, 2013, of article in The Tyee.ca by Andrew Nikiforuk, February 22, 2013
Dans une décision étonnante, le gouvernement Harper met une autre embûche dans une procédure légale très suivie en Alberta qui veut juger la règlementation de la fracturation hydraulique sur la place publique. Traduction libre d’un reportage d’Andrew Nikiforuk publié dans le journal indépendant The Tyee. Le fédéral jette un bâton dans les roues d’un procès très médiatisé
La semaine dernière, le Ministère de la Justice Canada a nommé l’honorable juge Barbara L. Veldhuis, une juge de la cour du banc de la reine qui présidait sur le cas juridique très médiatisé, à la cour d’appel de l’Alberta. La promotion, en fait, retire Veldhuis du procès de plusieurs milliers de dollars. De plus, Veldhuis était sur le point de prononcer sa décision à savoir si le régulateur de l’énergie de l’Alberta pouvait oui ou non se faire actionner par un propriétaire terrien pour avoir failli à des règlements provinciaux, manqué à la protection de l’eau souterraine et au respect des droits constitutionnels des Canadiens. La promotion du gouvernement Harper veut maintenant dire qu’un autre juge devra être nommé pour entendre la cause, ce qui a été remarqué au travers le globe, notamment aux États-Unis, en Australie, en Pologne et en Irlande.
’Une autre tentative pour retarder et épuiser’ dit Ernst
Gaz de houille – le fédéral veut décourager Jessica Ernst translation of Andrew Nikiforuk’s article by Amie du Richelieu February 24, 2013
Fracking: Feds Throw Wrench in High Profile Lawsuit, Judge suddenly promoted; plaintiff Ernst sees strategy to ‘delay and exhaust.’ by Andrew Nikiforuk, February 22, 2013, TheTyee.ca
In a stunning move the Harper government has thrown another hurdle before a high profile Alberta lawsuit that seeks to put the regulation of hydraulic fracturing on public trial. Last week the Department of Justice appointed Honourable Barbara L. Veldhuis, a Court of Queen’s Bench judge presiding over the landmark case, to the Court of Appeal of Alberta. The promotion effectively removes Veldhuis from the multi-million dollar lawsuit. Moreover, Veldhuis was about to rule on whether or not Alberta’s energy regulator could be sued by a landowner for failing to uphold provincial rules, protect groundwater and respect the constitutional rights of Canadians.
Bandit (d. October 30, 2007)
Photo by Derek Ernst (d. December 23, 2009)
Alberta asks public for consultations on fracking and water use by Grace C. Visconti, February 18, 2013, Digital Journal
Edmonton – In a surprising move, Environment Minister Diana McQueen announced that the Alberta government would engage the public in consultations (February 19 – March 21) province-wide on the controversial hydraulic fracking practice and water use in Alberta. … Though opinions will be collected from public forums in 20 towns and cities across Alberta with the intention of taking information from the public to create a new water energy strategy, Albertans already have strong views about water. With the passing of the federal Bill C-45, some major environmental challenges loom on the horizon but no one seems to be listening to the concerns of Albertans about potential water contamination due to lax environmental laws recently passed. … McQueen stressed, “Water is our most important resource, all of us use water in our daily lives, and so this is probably one of the most important conversations.” McQueen wants all Albertans included in this decision making process for future generations. “You’ll see that we’ll be making decisions together with Albertans as we move forward; the intent is not for this to be another document that will sit on a shelf.” The results of the consultations will also be made public but it is not certain when they will be released.
The riveting article in The Tyee entitled How Alberta Will Fight Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst, details how hydraulic fracking contaminated Ernst’s groundwater and why she fought back. Ernst is a 55 year-old scientist and oil patch consultant who is suing the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), the Alberta Environment, and Encana for contaminating her well water with toxic chemicals about ten years ago. In another article Tell Us What’s Being Done to Our Groundwater, Demand Albertans, the necessity for transparency on aquifer quality after Alberta closed the public records is heating up. If transparency is allowed, it could very well expose the harmful toxic effects of shale gas operations on Alberta and Canada’s aquifers that may lead to more protests, potential lawsuits, and a definitive ban on fracking if the public puts pressure on provincial and federal governments. [Emphasis added]
Fracking fears play no part in throne speech by John Gleeson, February 15, 2013, Coastal Reporter
B.C. is already in bed with the oil and gas industry and now the Liberal government wants us to make babies and grow old together. The most telling part of Tuesday’s throne speech — which banks on untold billions from liquefied natural gas taxes and royalties — was how cool the industry responded to the idea, especially the tax part. “I think it will cause industry to reflect on their business assumptions,” said Geoff Morrison on behalf of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, adding that companies will “likely have a discussion with government about that.” Ah yes, a discussion.
Alberta has been married for decades to the oil patch, but a few years back when the Ed Stelmach administration tried to impose modest royalty increases, the industry showed who was boss. It shut down the patch and killed the province’s economy, cozying up instead to friendlier regimes in B.C. and Saskatchewan. It also breathed life (money) into the Wildrose party, putting the ruling PCs on notice. The PCs dropped the royalty hike and got back in line, but Stelmach was politically a dead duck. Moral: don’t screw with the oil and gas boys.
Last month in Alberta, a landmark civil trial resumed. A 55-year-old scientist named Jessica Ernst is suing Encana, the Alberta government and its regulator for allegedly polluting the groundwater under her home in Rosebud. The whole world is watching this case because it targets the practice of hydraulic fracturing — fracking — which over the past decade has become the primary extraction method for much of the industry. Fracking injects massive amounts of water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground in order to break through rock formations and release gas trapped below. Ernst claims the methane gas migrates through the cracks and contaminates the aquifer on its way to the surface. The Alberta government says there has never been a documented case, but Ernst maintains there are “hundreds of other cases sealed by confidentiality agreements” that disprove that claim.
Methane gas contamination is only one of the fears from fracking. I heard Ernst speak about a year ago in a little community southwest of Red Deer called Eagle Valley. Fracking had come in a big way to Eagle Valley and the intensity of public anger and apprehension was palpable. One woman, Kim Mildenstein, a mother of three, had just been charged with uttering threats against an oil company (she was later sentenced to one year of probation). A major concern was the amount of heavy traffic on the roads, some carrying toxic materials. There was fear of environmental contamination from the undisclosed cancer-causing chemicals used in the process, both during the injection phase and in the wastewater. Another issue was the massive volume of fresh water being consumed.
Some of the biggest fracks in the world have been operating in northeastern B.C. Last fall, the Fort Nelson First Nation launched a petition campaign called “Don’t Give Away Our Fresh Water for Fracking” and collected 24,000 names in one month. The northeast is B.C.’s Alberta. It’s a terrific revenue generator because it’s out of sight and out of mind. As environmentalist George Smith said at the Feb. 2 Idle No More gathering in Sechelt, “Everybody knows what’s happening in the tar sands, but in northeastern British Columbia the amount of gas being taken out of the ground is second only to the tar sands — an enormous industrial project that’s causing incredible problems.” The industry, he said, is now looking at northwestern B.C. for “a huge operation that will rival what’s happening” in the northeast. And so it goes. The Liberal government is banking on all that lucre for your future. But at the end of the day, who do you think is going to be running this province? [Emphasis added]
U of A law professor and lawyer among those called to bench FRONT PAGE Edmonton Journal, February 11, 2013
Two Edmonton lawyers have been appointed justices of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. Federal justice minister Rob Nicholson announced the appointments Feb. 8 of Thomas Wakeling, a lawyer with Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP in Edmonton, and Russell Brown, an associate counsel with Miller Thomson LLP and law professor at the University of Alberta. Three other judicial appointments were made to fill vacancies in the province, effective immediately. Nicholson appointed Calgary judge Barbara Veldhuis to the Court of Appeal of Alberta.
ALBERTA JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS ANNOUNCED by the Department of Justice Canada, February 8, 2013
The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointments:
The Honourable Barbara L. Veldhuis, a judge of Her Majesty’s Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary, is appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal of Alberta to replace Mr. Justice K.G. Ritter (Edmonton) who elected to become a supernumerary judge as of May 1, 2011. Madam Justice Veldhuis received a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Alberta and was admitted to the Bar of Alberta in 1987. Madam Justice Veldhuis was appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in 2011 and to the provincial court in 2007. Prior to these appointments, she worked with the Department of Justice Canada from 1998 to 2006; additionally, Madam Justice Veldhuis was a Crown prosecutor with Alberta Justice from 1991 to 1993 and again from 1996 to 1998. She was in private practice, focusing on criminal law, from 1988 to 1991 with Logan Watson & Company and from 1993 to 1995 with Clarkson Mochan Veldhuis. Madam Justice Veldhuis was the president of the Grande Prairie Bar Association from 1992 to 1996 and served as vice-chairman of the Grande Prairie Regional College Foundation from 1993 to 1996. ..
These appointments are effective immediately. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Landmark fracking lawsuit starts with twist by Andrew Nikiforuk, April 27, 2012, The Tyee.ca
Judge B. L. Veldhuis began the proceedings in a Drumheller courtroom....
How Alberta Will Fight Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst by Andrew Nikiforuk, January 16, 2013
December 2007: Development of a memorandum of understanding between Alberta Environment (AENV) and the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB, now ERCB) to enhance collaboration for the protection and management of groundwater
EUB [now ERCB] Bulletin 2005-33, December 9, 2005: Shallow Fracturing Operations: New Requirements, Restricted Operations, and Technical Review Committee Incidents of shallow fracturing operations impacting nearby oilfield wells have been reported to the EUB. … The EUB has recently met with most major coalbed methane operators and service companies to discuss their fracturing practices, including program design. These discussions have indicated that design of fracture stimulations at shallow depths requires improved engineering design and a greater emphasis on protection of groundwater [Emphasis added]
Alberta Energy Board Appealing by Kevin Martin, January 23, 2012, Lloydminster Meridian Booster
Permalink to: Alberta Energy Board Appealing
Fracking gets its day in court by Christian Pollard, February 6, 2013, Feb-8-2013 Issue The Halifax Commoner
A David versus Goliath court case about contaminated aquifers at Jessica Ernst’s Alberta home is under way, essentially putting the controversial practice of hydraulic fracking on trial.
The case will have ramifications for the natural gas industry and environmental law everywhere.
The decisions made in the Calgary courtroom over the coming weeks and months will shape fracking policy in North America and possibly the world.
It could also help push environmental law in a new direction – one in which the environment itself has legal standing.
If you ask environmentalists, they’ll say fracking leads to uncontrollable leaking gas, massive amounts of dangerous chemicals, destroyed water sources and flammable tap water.
If you ask anyone in the natural gas industry, they’ll give you a different story.
The oceans of untapped, clean-burning natural gas are the future of their business and the eventual foundation of our global economy, like oil is now.
It’s a classic environment versus economy situation.
Where gas companies stand to make a huge profit, citizens stand to take a huge loss.
Fracking involves pumping high pressure chemicals into the earth’s crust to push out every last bit of oil and gas. These chemicals, and the gas itself, eventually seep into groundwater and poison aquifers – and eventually entire watersheds.
Without strict regulations, our entire continent’s natural water systems could become poisoned beyond repair.
As of now, there are little to no regulations to prevent this from happening.
The Nova Scotia government is reviewing fracking, so for the time being it’s not allowed. But in most places citizens aren’t so lucky.
Ernst v. Encana is important because it will set a precedent, which will be cited time and again in courtrooms all over the continent. This case will influence fracking policy everywhere.
It could also affect environmental law.
Well known environmental lawyer Christopher Stone wrote an essay in the ’70s called Should Trees Have Standing? – Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects. His thesis that nature deserves legal rights is moving from academic to real world application.
Last year the New Zealand government granted the Whanganui River, New Zealand’s third largest, the right to defend itself in court.
This is the first time this has happened anywhere.
The historic granting of legal status to a natural entity was spurned by over a century of legal battles with the Whanganui Iwi, the indigenous tribe who depend on the river for survival.
This development, coupled with the groundbreaking precedent to be set by Ernst v. Encana, could change international environmental law forever.
Imagine if the Gulf of Mexico could defend itself in court against British Petroleum for the record-breaking oil spill in 2010? Or if an aquifer Encana poisoned could sue the company directly?
Having a legal responsibility to the ecosystem itself, and not just the people who live there, would change the landscape from one that lets polluters off with minimal fines, to one that would demand more accurate compensation for the damages.
The environment versus economy battle has historically been despairingly lopsided in favour of the economy.
With the example of nature’s legal standing in New Zealand, and fracking essentially on trial in Calgary, all that could change.
Christian Pollard is a fourth-year student interested in environmental sustainability and economics. He has experience drafting and editing op-ed columns for publications around the world, and hopes to cover environmental issues in the future.
Permalink to: Fracking gets its day in court
Reprise du procès de Jessica Ernst Par JoJo Amie du Richelieu Lundi 4 février 2013, Les Hebdos Régionaux Québecor Média
Demain, vendredi le 18 janvier 2013, le procès de Jessica Ernst franchit une autre étape à la cour de Calgary. Cette cause pourrait créer un précédent judiciaire au Canada: Jessica accuse une gazière d’avoir contaminé son puits d’eau potable, et dénonce le manque de vigilance du ministère de l’environnement de sa province pour ne pas avoir pris des mesures nécessaires afin de protéger l’eau potable de ses citoyens. Ses avocats l’ont prévenue: c’est une cause légale qui pourrait s’étirer durant des années, mais c’est du jamais vu, et Jessica entend bien se rendre jusqu’au bout. Mme Ernst admire beaucoup les Québécois d’avoir tenu tête aux gazières et au gouvernement Libéral qui en faisaient la promotion. Le Québec est une province qu’elle aime beaucoup, et n’aimerait pas nous voir vivre les épreuves qu’elle et sa communauté doivent endurer à Rosebud, en Alberta.
Lien pour le communiqué de presse
Looking for change by Peter Lauridsen, February 1, 2013, Page 10 Strathmore Times
How this case affects the regulatory process down the road is still an open question. As Justice Veldhuis told the participants early on in the day’s proceedings, “this is a very complex case (and) there is a huge volume of material. It would be impossible to give any kind of answer today.” Or, it seems, anytime soon. If the hearing in Jessica Ernst’s lawsuit shows us anything, it’s that the wheels of justice, like molasses on an unseasonably warm January day, move very slowly.
Rosebud fracking lawsuit takes next step by Peter Lauridsen, January 23, 2013, Front Page The Drumheller Mail
Rimbey area dairy farmer and National Farmers Union co-ordinator Jan Slomp has been following Ernst’s case closely. “I think Jessica’s case is so interesting. I’m very curious how it develops.” Noting the mountain of evidence she has gathered in her journey thus far, he adds: “She has a perfect case to win.” Scarcely a moment later, he admits, “My faith in the government as an oil and gas regulator is zero right now. We’re pushed into not trusting anything. I’m desperate. How do I defend my land for the use of future generations?”
How Alberta Will Fight Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst, In famous flaming water case, regulator to argue ‘no duty of care’ to landowners or groundwater by Andrew Nikiforuk, January 16, 2013, TheTyee.ca
Plaintiff rejects energy board’s ‘ecoterrorist’ accusation
In addition the board argues that its governing statutes provide immunity not only “for negligence but gross negligence, bad faith and even deliberate acts.”
“If indeed the legislature wishes to grant such sweeping and total immunity to a government agency that has such an important role in the lives of rural Albertans, it must do so specifically and with clear wording,” replies an Ernst legal brief. “It has not. The legislature has failed to include omissions.”
The ERCB legal defense brief also portrays Ernst as an “ecoterrorist” and says it ceased all communication with her out of concern of violence in  after Ernst made an offhand comment about “the Wiebo Way.”
Wiebo Ludwig was a northern Alberta landowner who orchestrated a unprecedented campaign of industrial sabotage against the oil and gas industry in the late 1990s after five years of civil complaints and little regulatory response. Since then hundreds of landowners in Alberta and British Columbia have made comments about “the Wiebo Way.”
A legal brief submitted by Ernst’s lawyers argue that the ERCB’s allegations are not supported by public evidence and amount to character assassination.
A transcript of a taped conversation with an ERCB lawyer read and heard by this reporter seems to contradict the contents of this ERCB brief. In 2006 a board lawyer admitted to Ernst and a witness that the agency had no real safety concerns with Ernst, but disliked her public criticism of the board because it had become “humiliating.”
“The ERCB takes the prejudicial, vexatious, unsupported and wholly unsupportable position that the ‘expression’ the Plaintiff seeks to protect was a ‘threat of violence’ and that the ERCB ceased communication with Ms. Ernst ‘in order to protect its staff, the Alberta public and the Alberta oil and gas industry from further acts of eco-terrorism.’ This is a prejudicial and irresponsible accusation that is entirely without foundation.”
Adds the brief: “If the ERCB wishes to advance its patently absurd and irresponsible theory that Ms. Ernst’s offhand reference to Wiebo Ludwig was somehow a ‘threat of violence,’ and that an appropriate response to ‘protect against further acts of eco-terrorism’ was to cease communication with the Plaintiff, it must do so by forwarding cogent evidence. The ERCB has not, and frankly cannot, put forward such evidence.”
Government wants words struck from plaintiff’s brief
Last year the RCMP charged a mother of three children in central Alberta, Kim Mildenstein, for writing a threat against an oil and gas company after a dangerous volume of fracking traffic threatened the safety of children at a local school.
Louis Frank and two other women from the Blood Nation Reserve were also arrested for blockading a fracking vehicle in southern Alberta in 2011.
Mildenstein pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year of probation while the Crown dropped all charges against Frank last year.
In contrast Ernst has never been arrested or charged with uttering threats of any kind.
Lawyers representing Alberta Environment are asking for the removal of more than a dozen paragraphs from Ernst’s amended statement of claim. In particular the government wants any mention of other landowners and other water wells struck from Ernst’s claim such as the following sentence:
“By mid 2005 Alberta Environment knew that a number of landowners had made complaints regarding suspected contamination of the Rosebud Aquifer potentially caused by oil and gas development.”
Government lawyers say such statements are irrelevant and improper because the government might have to respond to “similar fact evidence.” The government also argues that the use of words such as “hazardous” and “pollutants” to describe groundwater contamination are “argumentative and should be struck.”
A 2004 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the fracking of coal formations warned that the practice could contaminate aquifers and well waters: “If fracturing fluids have been injected to a point outside of the well’s capture zone, they will not be recovered through production pumping and, if mobile, may be available to migrate through an aquifer.” [Emphasis added]
Gaz de schiste – Jessica continue son procès French Translation by Amie du Richelieu, January 16, 2013
[Refer also to:
Fracking will not contaminate groundwater, very shallow fracking has contaminated groundwater. To suggest that the ERCB does not look after the interests and safety of the people of Alberta is not only incorrect, but it also does a great disservice to the employees of the ERCB.
December 2007: Development of a memorandum of understanding between Alberta Environment (AENV) and the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB, now ERCB) to enhance collaboration for the protection and management of groundwater
T.S. Eliot: Little Gidding
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
Thank you Rosebud, my community.
Quotes in video by Capturemefilms Jessica Ernst: The Consequences of Fracking, transcribed by Bill Huston, January 20, 2013, Bill Huston’s Blog (Binghamton, NY), ~@2:50 Min:
“No healthy community will allow hydraulic fracturing
so they have to make the community sick –
And they do so by feeding the dark side [of] human nature
which is greed, sloth, selfishness they feed the ego
they promise a little bit…
…and then whammo, the community is divided.
The people with concerns are then abused
by the people who want more money
and Encana doesn’t even have to do the dirty work!
A lot of the other companies;
the people in the communities
do the dirty work for them.
It’s an incredibly brilliant technique
which works very well.
Everywhere they’re fracking this is happening.
And my conclusion as a scientist,
and as an environmental biologist–
as an environmental specialist that has worked in this industry…
My conclusion is that
No healthy community on this planet
would allow hydraulic fracturing
because it is not safe,
It is impossible to do
even with the best rules and regulations.”
Alberta’s Best in the World ERCB: “No Duty of Care to Landowners and Groundwater”
Professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists shall, in their areas of practice, hold paramount the health, safety and welfare of the public, and have regard for the environment.
EnCana is an engineering and a geology company, it too can be brought up to APEGA as a complaint if abrogating Rule 01.
Ewart: Critic boycotts Encana hearing, but crusade against fracking far from over by Stephen Ewart, January 19, 2013, Calgary Herald
On Saturday, Jessica Ernst – ever mindful the case is playing in the legal system and the court of public opinion – responded to a request to arrange a photo at the Calgary court appearance by supplying a photo taken Friday of her at the doors of the Drumheller Court House.
Jessica Ernst’s long battle with natural gas giant Encana moved into a packed Calgary courtroom Friday, but with the lead player boycotting the proceeding because it was moved from central Alberta, there was little in the way of courtroom drama. Ernst wants the case — her supporters bill it as a “landmark lawsuit” against fracking — to be heard in Drumheller, which is closer to her home in the village of Rosebud. “This is where I live. This is where my water is. This is where the coal bed methane wells were drilled. This is where my wells were contaminated,” Ernst said in a statement read to the court by lawyer Murray Klippenstein.“It is important to rural Albertans that disputes and harms that occur in their communities are judged in those communities.”
Regardless, the hearing took place on the 15th floor of the Calgary Courts Centre, surrounded by the office towers that are home to the Canadian oil and gas industry.
The boycott adds another element to an already complex case that began almost a decade ago as Ernst grew increasingly worried about the water from a well on her property as Encana conducted a drilling program in the area. The $33-million lawsuit “effectively puts on trial the practice and regulation of hydraulic fracturing.” said Klippenstein, Ernst’s Toronto-based lawyer. In addition to Encana, the suit also names the Alberta government and the provincial Energy Resources Conservation Board. The ERCB is cited by Ernst for not taking adequate steps to protect her water and disregarding her constitutional right to freedom of speech.
That only scratches the surface of the legalities in the case. “There is nothing simple about this case,” said Justice Barbara Veldhuis of the Court of Queen’s Bench. “There is a lot of material … everyone agrees this is a complex case.”
Ernst’s original statement of claim, filed in 2007, has been amended four times. … Nobody is expecting swift justice. At one point, Veldhuis acknowledged any ruling she made on the Crown immunity issue would likely be appealed to a higher court while Klippenstein said Ernst recognizes it will likely take years for the larger case to be resolved. … Friday’s proceedings were part of the “case management” aspect of the justice system that deals with the logistics of getting large, complex litigation through the courts.
The dry subject matter involving a half-dozen grey-suited lawyers didn’t deter about 70 people — many of them farmers from central Alberta — from cramming into the courtroom. The court clerk had to corral extra chairs to accommodate all the onlookers.
If Ernst wasn’t present in person, she certainly was there in spirit.
“Jessica is not alone,” said Jan Slomp, a dairy farmer from Rimby and a representative from the National Farmers Union. “She represents a lot of landowners.”
Many of the people in the courtroom expressed concern they are not heard by the regulator if a dispute arises with the oil and gas industry that is the lifeblood of the provincial economy and a leading source of government revenues.
“The people who are the regular people are not being heard,” added Linde Turner, who made the drive from Drumheller and paid $31.50 to park in a downtown lot so she could support her former Rosebud neighbour. [Parking is free in Drumheller]
… Ernst’s statement of claim repeatedly refers to hydraulic fracturing although Encana contends that it applied more environmentally benign nitrogen gas fracks as per industry best practices [voluntary] for shallow gas reservoirs. … Encana was adamant: The company’s testing showed its wells did not cause Ernst’s water woes. … Ironically, if anything is evident from the last decade it’s that, boycott or not, Ernst isn’t about to walk away from this case any time soon. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Alberta Geological Survey, last update September 11, 2012: It is common practice to stimulate a well to assist CBM production through artificial hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracing.”
EnerFAQs 08, ERCB's role in ensuring that CBM development is conducted in an orderly, efficient, and responsible manner: For shallower wells, this includes particular attention to issues like drilling and the use of completion fluids, fracturing (breaking down a formation by pumping fluid at high pressures)
Firewater by Andrew Nikiforuk, August 14, 2006, Canadian Business Magazine
The shy 49-year-old oilpatch consultant says that the ongoing controversy has been a very unwelcome experience. “I’d rather be running my business in peace,” explains Ernst, who frequently works with major oil and gas firms and First Nations on northern wildlife issues. “But I had no choice. The regulators just didn’t do their due diligence.”…both industry and government emphasized that methane naturally occurred in the province’s groundwater. Alberta Environment noted that 906 water wells in the province had gas “assumed to be methane” in their water, and that nearly 26,000 water wells had coal seams present. That revelation merely alarmed Ernst. “It was all the more reason to do baseline testing before they drilled,” she says. “They knew. All the companies should have tested for dissolved methane and gas composition.”
Eau de feu (French Translation)
EUB [now ERCB] Bulletin 2005-33, December 9, 2005: Shallow Fracturing Operations: New Requirements, Restricted Operations, and Technical Review Incidents of shallow fracturing operations impacting nearby oilfield wells have been reported to the EUB. … The EUB has recently met with most major coalbed methane operators and service companies to discuss their fracturing practices, including program design. These discussions have indicated that design of fracture stimulations at shallow depths requires improved engineering design and a greater emphasis on protection of groundwater [Emphasis added] ]
Une critique boycotte l’audience d’Encana mais sa croisade contre la fracturation est loin d’être terminée French Translation of Stephen Ewart’s article above by Amie du Richelieu, January 21, 2013
Ernst vs Encana Report by Alberta Surface Rights Group, January 18, 2013
At the Courthouse:
Today was a full day at the courthouse in Calgary, attending the Ernst vs Encana trial. This was a day that focused on the ERCB’s contention that they couldn’t be held accountable for any negligence, or indeed, anything they did or didn’t do! The ERCB lawyer, Mr. Soloman, argued that the law in Alberta stated very clearly that the ERCB was immune from any kind of law suit! He stated that the ERCB had no obligation to ensure the protection of any individual Albertan! For the average person this seems almost incredible…….that the government would pass laws that basically give their own regulators and agents a free ride! It seems to me that there is something really wrong when there is one rule for the government……and another rule for everyone else!
The lawyer for Jessica Ernst, Murray Klippenstein, was up next and he quickly blew a few a few holes in the governments position! He stated that because the ERCB had refused to talk to Ms. Ernst (in fact refused to even open her letters when she was trying to find out about what happened to her water!) that the ERCB had denied her charter rights to Freedom of Expression. He masterfully hammered this point home again and again. Following Mr. Klippenstein was his young colleague, Corey Wannless, who shot all kinds of holes in Mr. Solomons version of Alberta’s laws! Mr. Wanless gave a very detailed and spirited presentation, citing dozens of examples of case law that seemed to cast doubt on the validity of the “etched in stone” statutes that Mr. Solomon had presented. The judge informed the court that she would not be able to render a decision today. She stated this was a very difficult and complicated case, with far reaching consequences, and she would take her time to study the briefings before making a ruling on what could become a landmark case!
It was also noted that the courtroom was filled to overflowing with the supporters of Ms. Ernst…..to the point that extra chairs had to be brought in! It was very apparent that Ms. Ernst’s battle for her rights and the protection of her property has raised some very deep concerns about the province we live in. Alberta has been slipping further and further away from what we thought it was……..A free country where all are treated fairly……into a place where big multi national oil corporations ride roughshod over the people! Ms. Ernst has become a symbol, a real folk hero, a modern day David standing up against Goliath!
On a final note: Mr. Klippenstein and Mr. Wanless clearly were better lawyers than the array of government and oil company lawyers lined up against them! Mr Klippenstein, from Toronto, is considered one of the top litigation lawyers in the country. Mr. Wanless, also practicing in Toronto, is a home town boy raised at Red Deer Alberta. His father, Gary Wanless, was a well known lawyer, doing a lot of good work for the Farmers Advocate Office and involved in many environmental projects, planting trees through out central Alberta.
The Province of Alberta versus Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst by S. Tom Bond, January 17, 2013, FrackCheckWV
Multi-million dollar lawsuit over water contamination gets underway by Tamara Elliott, January 18, 2013 4:38 PM, Global News
Alberta’s oil and gas regulator has asked to be dropped from a multi-million dollar lawsuit against energy-giant Encana. Jessica Ernst, a resident of Rosebud, Alta. is suing the company for negligence causing water contamination. …
“Albertans deserve better,” Ernst told Global News. “We are so accommodating to oil and gas. We deserve to have our rights protected and our water our health our families our properties taken care of.”
On Friday, her lawyer told court that the regulatory body, ERCB, ignored her concerns. “The regulators who are supposed to be on top of these things and say they are—namely the ERCB—were negligent in not passing any rules to restrict them,” argues Murray Klippenstein. “When they knew there was a problem they did nothing.”
However, the ERCB’s lawyer argues it’s legally immune from being sued and wants to be removed from the lawsuit. Ernst did not attend court on Friday, because she had wanted the case to be heard in Drumheller so the community could attend. [Emphasis added]
Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board says it cannot be sued by a citizen by Kevin Martin, January 17, 2013, Calgary Sun
The Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board will apply Friday to have itself removed from a $33-million lawsuit alleging fracking contaminated an Alberta woman’s well water. Lawyer Glenn Solomon, in a brief filed with the court, says the government agency is immune from any litigation by an individual citizen.
Solomon will ask Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Barb Veldhuis to drop the ERCB as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Rosebud, Alta., resident Jessica Ernst. Ernst is seeking damages from Encana Corp., the ERCB and the province over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, processes done by the Calgary company to extract methane gas near her home.
She claims the procedure has contaminated underground aquifers in the area, including those that feed her well water on her rural property. “Encana’s (coalbed methane) activities at the Encana wells have caused the severe contamination of Ms. Ernst’s well water,” says her claim, filed by Toronto lawyer Murray Klippenstein. The company’s activities between 2001 and 2006 caused the release of previously fixed and immobile gases, it says. The effect contaminated “Ernst’s well water with hazardous and flammable levels of dissolved and gaseous methane and ethane,” the claim says.
Ernst, whose lawsuit has been filed at Drumheller Court of Queen’s Bench, seeks $11.7 million in damages from Encana, and $10.7 million each from both the ERCB and province. It claims the ERCB was negligent in not ensuring the wells it licenced Encana to drill didn’t contaminate her water.
But in his brief, Solomon says the agency can’t be sued by her. He says the Energy Resources Conservation Act prohibits legal action by individual citizens against the regulatory body, even those committed deliberately.
“The Legislature expressly exempted the ERCB from any liability in any actions brought against it by any private individuals,” Solomon says in his brief to the court. “As the immunity extends to ‘any act or thing done’ it includes not only negligence, but gross negligence, bad faith and even deliberate acts,” he wrote. Solomon will argue the agency owes a duty to the public as a whole and cannot be held accountable for acts which impact individuals. “The existence of a private duty of care would necessarily have the effect of compromising the ERCB’s express public duty to act ‘in the public interest,’” he wrote.
Statements of defence disputing Ernst’s allegation against the three defendants have not been filed. [Emphasis added]
Fight on to recover damages from fracking by CTV News Calgary, January 18, 2013
A landmark lawsuit in which an Alberta woman says fracking destroyed her water supply is mired in constitutional arguments before it even starts. … The argument centres around whether Alberta’s Energy Resource Conservaton Board can actually be sued for anything it does. The ERCB says under provincial law it can’t be sued for anything it does and that its name should be taken off the lawsuit. Ernst’s lawyer, Murray Klippenstein, contends that her right to free expression was violated because the ERCB ignored her complaints and even returned her letters unopened. Klippenstein says that the Charter of Rights trumps the ERCB’s provincial immunity.“Miss Ernst is arguing in court that her freedom of expression under the Charter, which is fundamental to the operation of a democratic society, should have allowed her to at least be heard in a minimal way at least by the ERCB. The ERCB didn’t like her criticisms of the board and for more than a year said we are not going to communicate with you at all,” said Klippenstien. Klippenstein says freedom of expression requires a government or a government agency not to slam the door in her face and to at least receive her communications. “The ERCB is claiming that the legislature has made it legally immune from law suits no matter what it does or what its motive. But what Miss Ernst is pointing out is that the Charter of Rights are constitutional and they override provincial legislation,” said Klippenstein.
A lawyer for the resource board says that provincial immunity extends to anything the ERCB does including negligence. The fifteenth floor courtroom was packed with rural landowners on Friday, who say the outcome of the case will affect property rights across the province.
Jan Slomp represents the Alberta section of the National Farmers Union and says the results of the hearing may have an impact on future cases. “Jessica is not alone. Jessica is the first one that has pursued it this far and so extensive, so well documented her case but she represents a lot of land owners, a lot of people in Alberta that feel step-by-step left out in terms of justice, in terms of equal playing fields with the energy exploration,” said Slomp. Slomp says he hopes the government will use the information to better regulate all sectors of energy exploration.
The case has not yet gone to trial and none of her allegations have been proven
French Translation of CTV News Calgary article above by Amie du Richelieu, January 21, 2013
Alberta government agency tries to dodge $33M fracking lawsuit by Sun Media, January 17th, 2013
The Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board is applying to have itself removed from a $33-million lawsuit alleging fracking contaminated an Alberta woman’s well water. Lawyer Glenn Solomon, in a brief filed with the court, says the government agency is immune from any litigation by an individual citizen. Solomon will ask the court to drop the ERCB as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Rosebud, Alta., resident Jessica Ernst. Ernst is suing Encana Corp., the ERCB and the province over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, processes done by the Calgary company to extract methane gas near her home. She claims the procedure has contaminated underground aquifers in the area, including those that feed her well water on her rural property. The process contaminated “Ernst’s well water with hazardous and flammable levels of dissolved and gaseous methane and ethane,” says her claim. … But Solomon says the Energy Resources Conservation Act prohibits legal action by individuals against the regulatory body. “The legislature expressly exempted the ERCB from any liability in any actions brought against it by any private individuals,” Solomon says in his brief. “As the immunity extends to ‘any act or thing done’ it includes not only negligence, but gross negligence, bad faith and even deliberate acts,” he wrote. Statements of defence have not been filed.
The Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board is applying to have itself removed from a $33-million lawsuit alleging fracking contaminated an Alberta woman’s well water by Kevin Martin, January 17, 2013, QMI Agency
Lawyer Glenn Solomon, in a brief filed with the court, says the government agency is immune from any litigation by an individual citizen. Solomon will ask the court to drop the ERCB as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Rosebud, Alta., resident Jessica Ernst. Ernst is suing Encana Corp., the ERCB and the province over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, processes done by the Calgary company to extract methane gas near her home. She claims the procedure has contaminated underground aquifers in the area, including those that feed her well water on her rural property. … Her suit claims the ERCB was negligent in not ensuring the wells it licenced Encana to drill didn’t contaminate her water. But Solomon says the Energy Resources Conservation Act prohibits legal action by individuals against the regulatory body. “The legislature expressly exempted the ERCB from any liability in any actions brought against it by any private individuals,” Solomon says in his brief.
“As the immunity extends to ‘any act or thing done’ it includes not only negligence, but gross negligence, bad faith and even deliberate acts,” he wrote.
Statements of defence have not been filed.
Stand up w Ernst and Tell Big Oil to Frack Off!! by Janice Plante, January 18, 2013, Global Alternative Blogspot
On the other hand here we have a perfectly “pure” (at least pure intentioned; not running for a political seat) spokesperson standing up for all of our rights and taking Encana to task and suing for the contamination of her well water and all others in the area of Rosebud, Alberta. But hey guess what, if she can win (hopefully since the defense is pretty lame), she will set a standard/precedence for EVERYONE in Canada. The precedent will be set and a message will be sent to all BIG OIL Co’s. that it is:
Not acceptable to contaminate the drinking water of one or many people!! …
This is the message that needs to go out!!! NO MORE and ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. The groundwater contamination is measurable and has been going on for at least 10 years, while the gov’t keeps letting them profit hugely and carry on business as usual and play dumb (it’s not proven). If you don’t look for the proof of cause and effect, then it will never be “Proven”, and further, they say, they have no burden to look for that link (not my job man). Well then who’s job is it? I would have believed that it is the regulatory body’s – whoever they are – responsibility to ensure the public’s and the greater environmental protection. The USA’s EPA is trying to skirt this responsibility as well. Again, I would have to ask, what have these people been doing all these years (being paid the big bucks)?
Can we make this stop? Can we support Jessica Ernst? Absolutely!! and it is in EVERYONE’s best interest to do so. Piss on waiting for some “talks and meetings” with Harper. This is HERE and NOW. Let’s go. If you are in Alberta, show up on the court house steps and DEMAND action. Demand that this hearing proceed without all the stall tactics that are business as usual to all the parties that have something to lose; the ones that want the complainant to either: a) run out of money; b) run out of all support and resources: c) die and/or give up.
Damn them, that they can keep getting away with those stall tactics and the courts support those tactics. Disgusting. I think the gov’t (ERCB – Energy Resouces Conservation Board) agency, by stating such a lame defense; that they are “not responsible for a duty of care”. Excuse me? If that is not their mandate, whose is it? [Emphasis added]
Excerpt: (from The Tyee): How Alberta Will Fight Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst, In famous flaming water case, regulator to argue ‘no duty of care’ to landowners or groundwater by Andrew Nikiforuk, 16 Jan 2013, TheTyee.ca
Energy board’s ‘duty of care’ stops where?
A common complaint among Alberta landowners is that the ERCB reacts slowly to public concerns. It was one of the continent’s last oil and gas regulators, for example, to table regulations on hydraulic fracturing.
Several recent court decisions also show that ERCB has a history of not upholding its own laws.
In 2010 the Royal Society of Canada, the nation’s top scientific organization, criticized the board for 2007 incident in which the regulator spied on landowners and damaged “its credibility as independent quasi-judicial board.”
In a court document filed on Dec. 5, 2012 lawyers representing the ERCB argue that a regulator charged to develop oil and gas resources in the public interest owes no duty of care to protect a citizen’s groundwater.
Furthermore the Ernst lawsuit does “not indicate omissions on the part of the ERCB but a failure of the ERCB to act in accordance with the Plaintiff’s expectations.”
Jessica Ernst goes to court today: Alberta government argues they have “no duty of care” by Ban Michigan Fracking, January 18, 2013
We stand with Jessica Ernst as she faces Encana and the Alberta government in court today. Her courage to seek truth and justice, and demand accountability from the gas industry and the government, is an inspiration to people worldwide. We, in Michigan, appreciate her sincerity and kindness in spreading the word about the dangers of fracking and making the trip here to meet with us.
Fracking lawsuit goes back to court by QR77 Newsroom, January 17, 2013
A woman who claims her drinking water became contaminated by Encana’s fracking practices a few years back is now suing the company, as well as the Energy Resources Conservation Board. Jessica Ernst, from Rosebud, near Drumheller, says it was time to act, “I realized when I began to discover that they’re planning to frack everywhere, including in Calgary within 70 metres of known zones of sour gas, I believed I had no choice but to do the lawsuit.” Ernst says she included the ERCB in the lawsuit because she feels the agency has been siding with Encana in this case and treating her rather poorly.
Calgary judge hears $33M lawsuit over natural gas drilling, Rosebud, Alta., woman says drilling contaminated her water supply by CBC News, January 18, 2013
On Friday, lawyers representing the ERCB told the judge that as the provincial regulator, it is not obligated to give priority to individual people over the general public, so it should be immune from any private lawsuit. … The Calgary courtroom is packed with about 50 landowners who are observing the case because they also have concerns about the effects of fracking. ['La salle d'audience de Calgary est bondée de propriétaires terriens qui assistent au procès parce qu'ils disent qu'ils ont eux aussi des préoccupations sur les effets de la fracturation hydraulique.' ] Jan Slomp, who is with the National Farmers Union, was there. “I think this is a landmark case. It represents the worry landowners and property owners have across Alberta with the impact of oil and gas industry and the worries about pollution and the effects and water, air and the environment,” Slomp said.
Nadia Stewart, CBC journalist on Twitter, January 18, 2013:
“ERCB counsel says Jessica Ernst is dragging it and herself through needless litigation.” ['L'avocat de la ERCB dit que Jessica Ernst la traîne en cour, la commission et elle-même, avec des litiges inutiles.']
ERCB lawyer: “This is not a claim that is novel, this is a claim that is wrong.”
ERCB lawyer has wrapped up his submissions. FYI: Ernst isn’t here today. Lawyer to explain why shortly.
Jessica Ernst’s lawyer speaking now on her behalf. Ernst feels strongly this case should have been heard in Drumheller.
Ernst says this is a precedent setting case. She will continue to ask case be heard in Drumheller court.
In response, judge says she respects Ernst’s feelings but, after speaking with Chief Justice, it was decided case would be held in [Calgary]
Procès marquant reprend à la cour de Calgary en Alberta-Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors by: Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors via Marketwire, January 17, 2013, CBSNews.com
Un juge de Calgary se penche sur une poursuite de 33 millions de dollars contre Encana by Radio-Canada.ca, le vendredi 18 janvier 2013
Un juge de Calgary entend la cause d’une femme qui soutient que les travaux de fracturation d’Encana ont contaminé son eau, afin de décider si sa poursuite pourra aller de l’avant. Jessica Ernst, résidente de Rosebud, à 120 km au nord-est de Calgary, a lancé une poursuite de 33 millions de dollars contre Encana, le gouvernement albertain et la Régie de contrôle des ressources énergétiques de l’Alberta (ERCB) en 2011. Mme Ernst a affirmé qu’il y avait tellement de méthane dans l’eau provenant de son robinet qu’elle pouvait y mettre le feu. Elle attribue la présence du méthane aux travaux de fracturation hydraulique de l’entreprise albertaine. … Vendredi, les avocats représentant l’ERCB ont indiqué au juge qu’en tant qu’organisme provincial de réglementation, la Régie n’était pas dans l’obligation de privilégier des intérêts individuels au détriment des intérêts publics et qu’elle était protégée de toute poursuite privée. La salle d’audience est remplie de propriétaires de terrains qui se sentent concernés par les effets de la fracturation hydraulique. [Calgary courtroom was packed yesterday]
Le juge soutient que la cause de la plaignante est complexe et n’a pris aucune décision vendredi.
Common interests by Dennis LeNeveu, Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 31, 2013 A15
In Calgary, on Jan.19, a hearing was held on the lawsuit by Jessica Ernst against Encana and the Alberta Gas and Oil Regulator for the contamination of her well water from coal bed methane extraction. What has this to do with the Idle No More protests that are occurring in Manitoba and nationwide? Everything. The lawsuit launched by Ernst will drag on for years while the resource extraction and contamination continues unabated. Similarly, dialogue promised by the federal government concerning the Idle No More environmental and treaty issues will be just talk. The federal government has no intention of deviating from its current course of abetting reckless and irresponsible resource extraction. After we have extracted the last drop of oil and gas from shale, coal and tar sands what will be the legacy after the petro dollars are gone? Despoiled surface environments, polluted aquifers and waterways, toxic fish and wildlife, global warming from the carbon dioxide we have belched into the air. The environment affects us all. It is our heritage and our responsibility for our children and future generations. Let us join our partners who have the courage to take a stand. Let us all be Idle No More. [Emphasis added]
Wheatland pushes fracking resolution by Pat Kolafa, January 30, 2013, Front Page The Drumheller Mail
Wheatland County Council is hoping to pressure the government into taking more care in protecting the environment when exploring and developing natural resources. The County is aiming to introduce a resolution to the Alberta Association of Municipal District and Counties (AAMD&C) asking steps be taken to protect the environment. Its resolution, which has not been brought to the AAMD&C yet, requests the province to:
- Take all necessary steps to ensure natural resource exploration does not pose a threat to the environment.
- Require industry reports prior to the commencement of natural resource exploration, an evaluation of the geologic conditions, and pre and post monitoring for seismic activity.
- Require the mapping of all aquifers prior to any natural resource exploration.
- Protect surface and groundwater supply by imposing a minimum well bore casing depth below aquifer zones.
Wheatland County Reeve Glenn Koester says this resolution comes out of concerns about fracking.
Wheatland County, in particular the Rosebud area, has become a focal point in many discussions about the possible damage caused by fracking to develop resources. Landowner Jessica Ernst has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Encana, Alberta Environment, and the Energy Resource Conservation Board. The area is rich in coal bed methane. Fracking is the process of injecting water, sand, and chemicals to stimulate gas production. Landowners have reported a decline in water levels and quality they believe is related to resource development. “It is more or less to make sure the government has done the proper work and the proper studies on the impacts of fracking on our aquifers and make sure the chemicals they are using are safe. We don’t want harmful chemicals injected into our aquifers,” said Koester. … “We have little water in the county that doesn’t come from wells. All our farms and close to all of our acreages are dependent on aquifers for a safe water supply,” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Permalink to: Wheatland County in Alberta pushes fracking resolution
Moves to address frack practices by Shanon McLeay, January 18, 2013, Strathmore Times
Wheatland County councillors submitted their views, in a resolution proposal to the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Communities (AAMDC) zone office, regarding the County’s stance on Resource Development in Alberta.
It includes a call to halt Coalbed Methane retrieval and the use of hydraulic fracture practises until protective methods are developed.
“Subsequent to natural resource exploration and activities, concerns have been received from landowners, reporting a decline in their water levels and contamination of their water wells, including and not limited to sulphur gases. Other residents have reported changes in land formations, opening of natural springs and sinkholes. While there is no proven link between these incidences and natural resource exploration, some residents are of the opinion that “fracking” activities have initiated these occurrences. We need to ensure the protections of our environment and our water – our most valuable natural resource,” Wheatland councillors stated in their member background report.
Wheatland councillors are not alone in concerns about the current technology used for unconventional oil and gas development.
“The fracturing of deep rock formations with water, sand and chemicals is a non-linear process that can open fractures to freshwater formations, as well as other oil and gas wells. Also, in absence of the public reporting on fracking chemicals, industry water withdrawals and full mapping of the provinces aquifers, rapid shale gas development could potentially threaten important water resources. An example is the Horn River Basin in British Columbia that has a distinctive geology and hydraulic fracturing that has caused rare and minor seismic activity,” they stated. In September 2012, an investigation by the ERCB confirmed operator error in leaking frac fluid, contaminating of a water well in Grande Prairie. In December 2012, similar issues appeared a national study conducted by the US Environmental Protection agency www.epa.gov/hfstudy/pdfs. They found chemicals in wells and ground water close to hydraulic fracturing sites. The final report is set for release in 2014, leaving time for industry response.
Water is the world’s most precious resource and one frac takes up to 7 million gallons of water. The water used comes from the closest above ground source, or underground aquifers. Fresh water, if brackish or saline water is not available. Chemicals are added, or the water absorbs chemicals from the rock formations, leaving the fresh water unusable. Reuse of the water is encouraged by the industry, but it is sometimes impractical. Contaminated water is then disposed of in underground cavities, or sealed in abandoned wells. Public information on chemicals used, or where they are disposed of is not currently available in Alberta, however as of Dec. 31, info will be posted on www.fracfocus.org. The venting and flaring of gas to relieve well pressure increases greenhouse gases, and several studies show health issues like respiratory illnesses result. No provisions by companies or government compensate human disability or animal health issues in flare areas.
Increased evidence of hydraulic fracturing generates seismic activity and causes earthquakes is mounting. In December 2012, the American Geophysical Union www.agu.org supported this. Studies in Oklahoma showed earthquake activity increased in 2011, from one to three a year, up to 250. Fluid injection was as close as 250 metres from the quakes. Studies in BC, Northern Alberta, Colorado, New Mexico, Trindad, and Britain show similar conclusions. Ohio had a moratorium on wastewater injection and only reopened permits with tougher regulation. “The future probably holds a lot more in induced earthquakes as the gas boom expands,” said US Geological Society researcher Art McGarr, in the MIT Technology review.
Many want a moratorium on fracking practises that would allow new environmentally sensitive technologies to develop. One recent innovation is a new gel made of liquefied petroleum gas developed by GASFRAC www.gasfrac.com , which will replace water in fracking operations.
Wheatland councillors state new ways should be developed for resource extraction that would protect the environment. They suggested the government and industry take the following measures:
• Take necessary steps to ensure natural resource exploration doesn’t pose a threat to our environment
• Require industry reports prior to the commencement of exploration
• Evaluate geological conditions with a pre and post monitoring for seismic activity
• Protect surface and groundwater supplies by imposing a minimum well bore casing depth below aquifer zones.
Wheatland’s recommendations went to the AAMDC District one office for compilation with other southern Alberta municipalities. The district will vote on the resolution Jan. 18, in Lethbridge. If accepted, it goes to the Association head office, who compiles it with other district submissions. A vote at the March Spring Convention occurs by all the membership. If it passes, the Alberta Minister of Municipal affairs receives a copy for response. [Emphasis added]
January 21, 2013
To all of the Kneehill County Councillors,
Please find attached an important initiative by Wheatland County to challenge and halt the destructive process of hydraulic fracturing due to its well documented risks to groundwater in so many areas of the world, including this province. Time is of the essence for all counties, including Kneehill County to put a moratorium on this process. The attraction to quick and easy money for municipalities from the energy industry must be overridden, and the reality of a profound environmental hazard to our essential groundwater must be seen on a more mature level of consideration for the long lasting need for a basic human necessity; drinking water. Please take a firm stand and launch a moratorium on fracking. Should you desire more information, feel free to contact me at any time and we would be pleased to respond with a presentation to Council.
We would also be pleased if your council would inspire other Counties and Municipalities to get on board with this challenge, as poisoned groundwater has no borders nor remedies.
Alberta Surface Rights Group
cc: Directors of ASRG
UPDATE: Kneehill County endorsed the resolution. It will be presented to the February 8, 2013 Central Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (CAAMDC – comprises 14 central Alberta rural municipalities) Zone meeting. If approved, it will be presented at the Spring Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC – all rural municipalities in Alberta) Convention in Edmonton, March 18-20, 2013.
[Refer also to:
Fiction, Forgery, Fraud Letter by Darryl Roppel to Wheatland County, November 19, 2012, N. Donna Wise.net
Why would EnCana Corporation send water reports to the County of Wheatland with a copy of a Land Usage Authorization Agreement that I never signed? [Emphasis added]
Hydraulic fracturing with gelled propane by Gasfrac/Crew Energy Inc./Caltex Energy Inc. contaminated groundwater near Grande Prairie: ERCB Investigative Report and groundwater monitoring by Alberta Environment
Rosebud Hamlet, where EnCana frac’d the community’s drinking water aquifers, in secret in 2004, is in Wheatland County.
Scientist wants EnCana to be held accountable “Alberta Environment found methane, toluene and kerosene in the hamlet water. Kerosene is a red flag indicator of petroleum industry contamination. The community’s concrete water tower lid exploded off in January 2005 seriously injuring a worker, months after EnCana fractured the aquifers and diverted fresh water from its CBM. A propane torch was blamed. What if EnCana’s shallow fracturing caused methane to release? What if kerosene caused the explosion? The new water tower cost nearly $700,000. The $150,000 that EnCana promised the Rosebud Theatre (a few months after the first water well went bad) seems a cheap solution.”
Fracking Canada No Duty of Care May 2006 photo Bruce Jack Methane and Ethane Contaminated Water Explosion, Spirit River, Alberta that sent Jack and two industry water testers to hospital with serious injuries
EUB [Now ERCB, soon to be AER]: ‘Men Without Chests,’ ‘No Plan, No Policy, No Heart’ The [Calgary Health Region] repeatedly accuses the board of erring, ignoring or misinterpreting so much evidence that “the board could not properly carry out its mandate to determine the public interest and weigh the social and economic effects of the proposed project.” These accusations have been echoed across the province. [Emphasis added]
Why is EnCana not willing to test our water beyond the minimum standards? by Bill Barnett, in Red Deer Advocate, Drumheller Valley Times and Strathmore Standard, August 7, 2007
Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition:
Dec 1 2012 – Dec 3 2012, 08-33-053-10W5
CARRIER FLUID N2
CARRIER FLUID TG-740 Not Available
ADDITIVE HB-4 Trican Breaker 0.46%
ADDITIVE HX-2W Trican Crosslinker 0.44%
ADDITIVE Hg-2 Trican Gelling Agent 0.46%
ADDITIVE S-12 Trican Surfactant 0.16% ]
When Women Blow the Whistle by Barbara D. Janusz, Winter 2013, Herizons
Researchers and regulators have taken an interest in whistle-blowers, too, and have asked: What is it that makes a person more likely to blow the whistle-is it a sense of injustice, or is it the possibility of being rewarded for doing the right thing? The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is betting on the latter. It recently implemented provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and authorized large bounty payouts to whistle-blowers for securities laws violations. However, a collaborative 2009 study conducted by law professors Yuval Feldman, of Bar-Ilan University’s faculty of law, and Orly Lobel, of the University of San Diego school of law, suggest that they needn’t have bothered. … Interestingly, Feldman and Lobel concluded, “often, offering monetary rewards to whistle-blowers will lead to less, rather than more, reporting of illegality.” The reasons? First, the researchers found that, while men in the survey said they would be more motivated to report wrongdoing by receiving a monetary reward, women were more inclined to be motivated by intrinsic factors such as duty, and by anti-retaliation protection. Perhaps the most interesting finding was that “women were far more likely than men to blow the whistle.” …
Under Canadian Law there are some regulatory schemes-provincial occupational health and safety legislation and environmental protection laws, for example-to protect whistle-blowers. Federally, the Criminal Code affords whistle-blowers the broadest safeguards from reprisals. … SLAPP lawsuits are attempts by corporations to duck accountability by countersuing their critics, claiming the critics are harming their reputation.
“There is a cozy relationship between industry and government regulators that operates in secrecy.” – Dr. Michelle Bill-Edwards
Similar criticism has been levelled against the oil and gas industry and its Alberta regulators – the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) [previously EUB, soon to be AER] and Alberta Environment [name changed twice since, now Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development] – against whom scientist Jessica Ernst has been waging a battle for nearly a decade. Ironically, Ernst, who had been contracted by Encana as a biologist to conduct environmental impact assessments, has now experienced first-hand the devastating ecological impacts of oil and gas development.
“If people are told more clearly what whistle-blowers go through, the public would say no, this has to end.” Like Ernst, Brill-Edwards, Olivierie and others, Gualtieri has spoken critically and openly about government corruption in the hope that the public will demand and come to expect greater accountability frmo government and corporate officials. She believes the ordeals of the whistle-blower magnify the most pressing questions of the 21st century: What is it that we value? Why is power being abused? Why are so many people compliant?
Women, in ever greater numbers, are becoming integrated in all professions and are assuming greater positions of power–as premiers, CEOs, judges and senior public administrators. Perhaps the greatest challenge still lies ahead of us, as the new generation of female leaders is confronted with a quandary: Should women exercise power for the greater good or simply for their own self-interest and the narrow interests of the institutions that employ them?
Source Herizons Winter 2013
[Refer also to: Braid: Alberta’s a tough place to be a whistleblower
Permalink to: When Women Blow the Whistle
ERCB: Rules coming for fracking and unconventional resources by Suzy Thompson, December 20, 2012, Fast Forward Weekly
The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) is in the process of a large-scale review of its fracking regulations, with changes implemented sometime in 2013. The ERCB is specifically concerned with water aquifer protection, preventing above-ground chemical spills, and interwellbore communication. “That’s when you have two oil or gas wells that are close enough down-hole that there is some sort of impact on one due to activities in the other well,” explains ERCB spokesperson Bob Curran. That kind of underground communication between Midway Energy’s fracking operation and a nearby well operated by Wild Stream Exploration caused a blowout near Innisfail last January. At their closest point, those two wells are 129 metres apart. When the pressure that built up in one escaped to the other bore-hole, fracking fluid leaked to the surface. Curran says that since the ERCB began monitoring interwellbore communication this year, there have been 21 incidents, but they rarely cause damage. … Curran says geologists understand the technology and its potential consequences quite well, and that the ERCB is not struggling to align rule-changes with a poorly developed science. “Hydraulic fracturing as a technology is very well understood, and it’s been applied here extensively in Alberta over our history…. There’s been over 171,000 wells that have been hydraulically fractured in Alberta since the practice began in the 1950s,” he says. Curran says it’s this understanding of the technology, Alberta’s geology, and a long-standing “stringent” regulatory system that have prevented negative incidents in Alberta that are making headlines in other parts of the continent.
While the ERCB is confident in the safety of fracking, the matter is still up for debate elsewhere. Dr. David Layzell, the head of the University of Calgary’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy, says there are significant questions about the technology. “We do not have good peer-reviewed data from controlled experiments on the costs, benefit and trade-offs (environmental, economic, risk) of the various fracturing technologies. We also need independent, arm’s-length analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions (especially methane) that typically occur during the fracturing process. Some studies have suggested that these emissions can be quite high, while others provide data suggesting that the emissions are insignificant. Most of the evidence to date suggests that there are few environmental impacts associated with the fracturing itself. The problems that have arisen seem to come from spills at the surface, poor integrity of the well casing, or re-injection/disposal of the spent fracturing fluids creating small seismic events,” Layzell explains by email. He calls on the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, and Canadian Council of Academies to take the lead in designing and carrying out studies in order to avoid conflict of interest and other issues that have arisen from industry and university-led research. It’s not that studies haven’t been conducted — many have — but contradictory findings and questionable research practices have led many of them to cancel each other out. In February 2012, Layzell participated in a panel discussion at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Vancouver on fracking’s effect on water quality. The research that discussion was based on was a highly publicized University of Texas study that found no link between fracking and water contamination. The paper suggested public anxiety over fracking was based on biased media reports rather than scientific evidence, and concluded regulatory regimes need not be changed. In the following months, the University of Texas discovered the lead researcher, Dr. Chip Groat, sat on the board of a fracking company while authoring the paper. A subsequent university review declared “the design, management, review and release of the study… fell short of contemporary standards for scientific work,” and that the study was “inappropriately selective in the use of material.” Ironically, that study was originally supposed to be funded by an oil company, but funding was rejected when the company insisted it be allowed to vet the final report.
The study has since been trashed and Groat has left the university, yet even solid science remains inconclusive. The surface, groundwater and air pollution associated with fracking is unknown. High-pressure wastewater storage wells may or may not be causing earthquakes. Specific chemicals used in fracking fluid are a mystery in many jurisdictions. Curran says industry has long been obligated to disclose to the ERCB what is in the injection fluid, and Layzell says it is well known that water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and propane are most commonly used. “What we’ve seen is some jurisdictions where there’ve been problems, there have been regulatory gaps,” Curran insists. It is “because of that some of these accidents have occurred. And in Alberta those regulations are already in place to prevent that from occurring.” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: ERCB Lawyer 2012 letter to Ernst: “However, the ERCB does not currently require licensees to provide detailed disclosure of the chemical composition of fracturing fluids.”
Hydraulic fracturing with gelled propane by Gasfrac/Crew Energy Inc./Caltex Energy Inc. contaminated groundwater near Grande Prairie: ERCB Investigative Report and groundwater monitoring by Alberta Environment
Staying dirty by Jessica Ernst, November 30, 2012, Calgary Herald Re: “Seniors’ shower issue deserves serious response,” Don Braid, Opinion, Nov. 28.
I know how demeaning it is to shower only once a week. Since April 2008, when the government broke its 2006 legislature-made promise to provide “safe alternative water … now and into the future” to all adversely affected families suffering with explosive and toxic tap water in rural frac fields, I must haul my own.
It is too difficult for me to haul water in winter, so I often have less than one shower a week. It’s pure hell. Knowing that companies take profit out from under Albertans while keeping their frac chemicals secret, doubles the hell. Reading Don Braid’s column triples it.
It is one thing for the government to abuse a citizen like me seeking justice. It is horrifying and unforgivable for this government to abuse seniors when it gives multinational oil and gas companies so much.
Permalink to: Staying dirty
Canadian Extractive Industry, Human Rights & the Law: Lawyer Cory Wanless to Speak on Fracking in Canada
November 8th, 7 PM, St Paul’s Anglican Church, Antigonish; and
November 9th, at the annual gathering of the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network at the Tatamagouche Centre
Responsible Energy Action and Antigonish Breaking the Silence are hosting a presentation by Cory Wanless, of the progressive Toronto law firm Klippensteins, Barristers & Solicitors
Klippensteins is currently counsel to Alberta oil consultant Jessica Ernst in her lawsuit against the oil company EnCana, the ERCB and Alberta Government for the contamination of her water through shallow hydraulic fracturing. They are also representing community members from El Estor, Guatemala in a civil suit against the Canadian company HudBay Minerals, Inc. In 2010, Klippensteins represented filmmaker Steven Schnoor in a successful defamation lawsuit against Canadian Ambassador to Guatemala Kenneth Cook,who had made false claims that Mr Schnoor’s documentary misrepresented the eviction of residents of El Estor by Vancouver-based nickel mining company Skye Resources.
[Refer also to: Breaking the silence ]
WATCH: Jessica Ernst and Peter von Tiesenhausen Panel 1 hour 33 Min., includes Q and A, by Mount Royal University Under Western Skies 2, February 22, 2013
The Great Getaway: Secrets of a Frac Cover-Up Plenary Panel with Jessica Ernst and Peter von Tiesenhausen Mount Royal University Under Western Skies 2, Calgary, Alberta, October 12, 2012
Ernst spoke about four aspects of frac’ing culture and politics in Alberta: 1). breaking the law to frac in secret; 2). punishing citizens who ask questions; 3). investigating frac’ing without investigating in order to ensure that experiments continue; and 4). using Alberta Innovates (previously Alberta Research Council) to conceal public water testing data.
Permalink to: The Great Getaway: Secrets of a Frac Cover-Up
Water equals life. Who is Jessica Ernst? by Jacquie Vigneux, October 9, 2012, Whitehorse Star
Il faut bannir la fracturation hydraulique by Jacqueline Vigneaux, 10 October, 2012, Page 4, L’aurore boréale Vol. 29, No. 19
Permalink to: Water equals life. Who is Jessica Ernst?
Under Western Skies returns with a bang by Colin Brandt, October 4, 2012, mtroyal.ca
Back in Oct. 2010, Mount Royal took a lead role in interdisciplinary and community-minded environmental studies in Alberta and Western Canada, launching the inaugural Under Western Skies Conference (UWS). Professor Mario Trono is the co-convener of the Under Western Skies conference. The Conference, which focuses on the western half of North America, was the largest in Mount Royal’s history, establishing a high-profile venue where scholars, artists, students and concerned citizens gathered to share ideas concerning all aspects of the environment. … Funded in part through a $50,000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and working from the theme of “Under Western Skies 2: Environment, Community and Culture in North America”, this year’s focus is shifting beyond the West, recognizing the impact of environmental issues that ignore human-created borders.
Associate Professor, Robert Boschman, founder and co-convener of the Conference, is excited to see the results of this conference and is already planning for Under Western Skies 3 in 2014 with the help of an interdisciplinary team that includes a number of Mount Royal students. “This whole thing started in a conversation with a colleague over drinks four years ago,” says Boschman, shaking his head. “As people, ideas and money came on board, we were already planning this conference before the first one was done. “The eyes of the world are focused on what is being done here [Alberta]. It allows academics to share their work every two years and really take the temperature of the moment. With major funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and participation and supper from a number of stakeholders, I know that we are going to be able to deliver something really important every two years.”
“This is an opportunity to shine the light on individuals who are doing remarkable things. Among the other events I am participating in, I am particularly excited to chair a plenary panel featuring Peter von Tiesenhausen, who successfully claimed copyright over his land as an artwork, complicating attempts by multinational oil companies to purchase his property, and Jessica Ernst, who has fought the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas extraction and its effects on water systems.”
Fracking Aquifers by James Northrup, September 27, 2012, blog.ShaleShockMedia
Obviously, under the right conditions – it could happen – and it has happened, as the EPA tests just confirmed. The way it happened in Wyoming is fairly straightforward – the shale gas is close enough to the aquifer that when a frack goes out of zone, it can penetrate the aquifer above it, polluting it with gas and frack fluids. Propane and ethane are not “naturally occurring” in groundwater. “Several different hydrocarbon gasses, including methane, ethane, propane, and several higher molecular weight compounds, were detected in the groundwater-quality samples.” – pg 20.
This is what happened to the Fentons, a ranching family we met at a conference in Colorado. We were both speaking at the conference and we stayed at the same lodge. John Fenton and I went for a walk one day and he told me how deep his water wells were (pretty deep) – and how deep the shale was (fairly shallow). They were too close for comfort – any errant frack could ruin his water – and it did. So Encana proved the “impossible” – a frack can indeed go into a water bearing strata – either on its own or via a localized naturally occuring fault – and once that happens, there’s not a fracking thing you can do about it – except sue the frackers – which is what the Fentons did. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Encana Perforations on one Shallow CBM well at Rosebud, Alberta, 2001
Source: The Alberta Groundwater Centre
The Groundwater Centre has been maintaining a groundwater database for the past 22 years. In 1979, The Groundwater Centre started the process of merging the AENV (Alberta Environment) GIC database with its own database. This process allowed The Groundwater Centre to dramatically upgrade the existing AENV groundwater dataset.
Source: Slide # 164 in From Cape Town to the Yukon Presentation on September 22, 2012
EnCana’s Multiple Shallow Fracs into Fresh Water Aquifers at Rosebud, Alberta, March 2004
Source: EnCana Corporation Site Investigation Report by Hydrogeological Consultants Ltd.
File No.: 04-510, January 2005
Permalink to: Fracking Aquifers
The North This Week September 23, 2012, CBC News
A conversation on fracking between A New Day host Sandi Coleman and Jessica Ernst
Gaz de schiste – la mission de Jessica, “J’ai laissé tombé tout le reste de ma vie pour ceci.” Jessica Ernst est convaincue qu’il n’y a rien de bon dans la fracturation hydraulique Traduction libre d’un reportage de Chuck Tobin, September 23, 2012
Gaz de schiste – L’ennemie de la fracturation nous prévient, Traduction libre d’un article écrit avant la présentation de Jessica Ernst au Yukon le 22 septembre 2012
Jessica Ernst ne peut pas nous dire ce qu’elle espère accomplir en étant conférencière sur les dangers de la fracturation hydraulique durant la présentation de samedi soir à l’église Sacred Heart Cathedral. “La fracturation tue l’espoir.” dit-elle. “Je n’ai plus d’espoir, s’il me reste quelque chose. Après ce que j’ai découvert, et ce que j’ai vu, ils ont tué tout espoir en moi.”
Mme Ernst présentera de l’information sur la méthode controversée ainsi qu’une partie de son périple de vivre dans une région fracturée. Sa visite coïncide avec la Journée mondiale contre la fracturation, et peu après la date limite pour recevoir les commentaires sur le projet de Northern Cross à Eagle Plains. La compagnie n’exclue pas la fracturation hydraulique dans sa proposition de forer 2 puits pétroliers et gaziers juste à côté de l’autoroute Dempster Highway. Cela fait des années que Mme Ernst nous prévient des dangers de la fracturation hydraulique. Bien que ses efforts lui ont valu beaucoup d’éloges (les Nations Unies lui ont accordé le prix “Femme de Courage” de 2011), cela lui a coûté presque tout ce qu’elle possède. En 1998, Mme Ernst est déménagée à Wheatland County, tout près de la communauté de Rosebud, en Alberta, pas loin de Drumheller. C’est un petit patelin de moins de 100 personnes, entouré de fermes céréalières. Plusieurs des résidents sont des enfants, souligne Mme Ernst.
Il y a une petite école d’arts et de théâtre à Rosebud. Mme Ernst a acheté une maison à cet endroit à cause de la beauté du paysage dans la région. Mais maintenant, à cause des travaux de la compagnie pétrolière EnCana, elle devra probablement vendre sa maison. Mme Ernst entame un procès contre EnCana, l’agence Energy Resources Conservation Board de l’Alberta et le gouvernement de l’Alberta. Elle prétend que la compagnie a pollué les puits potables de la région, dont le sien. Au début des années 2000, EnCana a commencé à forer pour du méthane dans les formations de charbon partout dans le coeur de l’Alberta. La compagnie a foré plus de 200 puits près de la nappe phréatique. Cela a tout été fait dans le secret, selon Ernst. Mme Ernst est une scientifique et a travaillé pour l’industrie du pétrole et du gaz comme consultante. Elle a même fait du boulot pour EnCana, souligne-t-elle.
Son robinet de bain a commencé à souffler du gaz en 2004. Elle pensait avoir un problème de plomberie. Ensuite sa peau a commencé à avoir des signes d’irritation et rougir après un bain. Elle croyait que c’était un symptôme de sa ménopause. Son comportement a changé de d’autres façons. Elle ne faisait plus aussi souvent la vaisselle. Ensuite ses chiens ont commencé à boire l’eau fraîchement puisée du puits: c’est là qu’elle a réalisé qu’il y avait un sérieux problème. Son eau est blanche laiteuse maintenant à cause de tous les produits chimiques qui sont dedans, dit-elle. Mme Ernst a commencé à faire sa propre recherche et sonner l’alarme. Des gens se sont moqués d’elle et la critiquer.
“Je pense (qu’EnCana) se servait des gens ici, ma communauté, comme des rats de laboratoire, pas seulement une expérience géologique, mais aussi comment la compagnie pouvait se servir de la nature humaine et la cupidité à leur avantage.” dit-elle. La compagnie a promis de donner $150,000 à leur compagnie de théâtre communautaire en 2004, mais elle a remis le chèque en 2010, dit-elle. Mme Ernst s’est fait dire qu’elle empêchait les gens de recevoir l’argent qui leur était due et mettait sa communauté en danger, dit-elle.
Mais elle continue de se battre.
EnCana a entravé à plusieurs lois pendant leurs travaux, avance Mme Ernst. Le cas n’est pas passé devant le juge encore. Une nouvelle déclaration de revendications a été déposée en juin. Les déclarations de la défense n’ont pas été présentées encore, et ses avocats lui ont prévenu que les délais peuvent s’étirer encore pendant des années. C’est un cheminement qui lui coûte très cher. Travailler à exposer la situation est devenu un travail à temps plein. Elle a déjà eu une compagnie, mais s’attend à déclarer faillite bientôt. Elle a déjà dépensé plus de $200,000 en frais légaux. Bien qu’elle entend souvent des gens partout dans la campagne qui sont préoccupés par la fracturation hydraulique et durant ses voyages à raconter son histoire, sa propre vie se vit en solitude. Elle a dépensé ses économies pour couvrir les frais de son cas légal et ne peut plus s’offrir des voyages pour visiter ses amis. Mais elle ne le fait pas seulement pour son puits, dit-elle. C’est pour l’eau potable de tout le monde.
“Toutes les lois et les règlements en Alberta qui sont sensées protéger l’eau potable n’ont pas été respectées, et le gouvernement et ses règlements ont aidé EnCana à garder tout çà secret et s’en sortir sans problèmes.” Elle a moins d’eau, maintenant. Elle doit conduire pendant 40 minutes pour se rendre à Rosedale pour s’en procurer, 681 litres à la fois. Quand elle a froid, l’hiver, elle ne peut pas produire assez de chaleur pour se chauffer et se donner un bain chaud en même temps. Mais elle ne baissera pas les bras. Elle est sceptique quand les gouvernements disent qu’ils vont interdire la fracturation hydraulique. “Quand il y a de sérieux dégâts causés par des tempêtes de vent, ou de la sécheresse, le gouvernement aide les personnes lésées. J’ai vu çà partout.” Mais quand vient le temps d’aider les citoyens qui ont de l’eau contaminée, l’aide ne vient pas, dit Ernst.
Mme Ernst commencera sa présentation à 19:00 heures samedi le 22 septembre 2012 dans la salle CYO dans le sous-sol de l’église Sacred Heart Cathedral à Whitehorse.
[Refer also to: Foe of fracking offers grim warning ]
‘I have given up the rest of my life for this’, Jessica Ernst is convinced there’s nothing good about hydraulic fracturing by Chuck Tobin, September 21, 2012, Whitehorse Daily Star
At one point, says the lawsuit, excess methane gas caused by hydraulic fracturing was whistling out of her taps, creating “a serious risk of explosion.” Her water became unusable for washing and bathing, she claims. The oil and gas industry, says Ernst, maintains fracking is safe, and challenges anyone to bring forward evidence to prove otherwise. Ernst says there’s not much negative proof on the record because the industry settles its disputes outside the courtroom, and attaches gag orders as part of the settlement conditions. … “I really do not believe scientifically it can be done safely, because you are shattering the underground formation and nobody can go down there and study it, and nobody can go down there and fix it,” she says. … The Yukon, she says, is in the position to stand back before it makes the same errors Alberta and others have made by allowing hydraulic fracturing to occur.
Northern Cross Ltd. has filed a project proposal with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board to drill two more exploration holes near Eagle Plains this winter. The company has indicated it does not intend to use hydraulic fracturing, but can’t say for sure until it begins drilling and learns more about the underground formations. It has also indicated to the assessment board that it has been assured by the Yukon government that should Northern Cross decide sometime down the road to use fracking, a separate environmental assessment would not be required. Three First Nations have indicated in their submissions to the assessment board that if there’s even a remote chance Northern Cross will use hydraulic fracturing, the company should have to demonstrate it can be done with no negative impacts to the environment. Northern Cross received permits in 2007 and 2008 for its first four exploration wells, though work did not start until this summer. It began drilling its first hole in August. A Chinese company purchased the controlling interest in Northern Cross last year for $20 million.
The lawsuit filed in Alberta’s highest court reads: “Prior to the arrival of CBM (coal bed methane) development in the Rosebud area, Ms. Ernst’s water well … produced large quantities of very clear, high-quality water.” Well water tests on record prior to the arrival of drilling in the area, tests conducted as part of routine monitoring or for real estate purposes, showed the water was free of contaminants, the suit says. It points out EnCana began drilling in the area back in 2001. By the end of 2005, Ernst was forced to abandon her well, according to the lawsuit. “Tap water resting in a bowl or cup would catch fire if an open flame was brought close to the water,” reads the lawsuit. “If water was placed in a plastic pop bottle and capped for a minute or less, the gas coming off the water would explode in a flame a foot high if a lit match or lighter was placed near the mouth of the bottle.” “… Ms. Ernst experienced eye irritations from merely being in the house,” says the lawsuit.
Ernst says her lawyers have told her to be prepared for a long haul, as there will surely be attempts to drag out the matter for as long as possible. … “I am putting all my time into the case,” she says. “I am working 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and I have been for the last six years. “I am using up all my savings on the case, and I actually recognize I have given up the rest of my life for this.” Ernst points out as she continues her fight, the practice of hydraulic fracturing and its impact is drawing more and more attention from governments in Canada, United States and around the world. Ottawa announced last year it would be appointing a task force to examine hydraulic fracturing to determine if it was harming the environment, though the work has not yet begun in earnest. The suggestion by industry that hydraulic fracturing has been in common use for 50 years, as Northern Cross points out in its application, is a red herring, she argues. Never, Ernst says, has hydraulic fracturing been used with such “brute force to blast open” formations as it has been in the last decade. [Emphasis added]
Jessica Ernst presents at Yukon College, with Q and A, September 24, 2012 60 Min. by ZET Group, January 26, 2013
Part 1 only of 3: Hydraulic Fracturing Presentation by Jessica Ernst at Yukon College, Whitehorse 20:05 Min. video by eco researcher, January 2, 2012
Calgary’s towering environmental statement by Carrie Tait, August 13, 2012, The Globe and Mail
Cenovus Energy Inc. is taking its fight for environmental credibility to a new battleground: its kitchens inside The Bow. All 78 of them. The oil sands company talks about its space – floors three through 28 – in language similar to what it uses when talking about bitumen and water ratios. It has three kitchens on each floor, and with their open-air design, stainless-steel appliances, soft seating, white countertops and pale wooden cupboards, they look more like hipster coffee shops than corporate lunch rooms. They have “enhanced recycling” systems, in the words of Denise Froese, Cenovus’s director of administrative services – pull-out bins with tags indicating which waste goes where. Even the plates – normal white plates – in the cupboards are touted because they discourage disposable versions. “Again, it is part of our commitment to a sustainable environment,” she said. The Bow, a glass, curved structure with 58 storeys, is more than just a big office tower – the tallest west of Toronto, in fact. … Construction workers are outside assembling an artwork by Barcelona’s Jaume Plensa. “Dude, we’re getting a Plensa,” Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said at an announcement last month. The employee offices reflect “best practices in ergonomics,” Ms. Froese said on a media tour of Cenovus’s share of the building, and even inner board rooms and cubicle clusters give employees the “right to light.” … The first employees to swipe their key cards in The Bow, Calgary’s much-hyped shiny office tower, arrived Monday, unpacking family pictures and playing with their white desks – adjustable, programmable desks that move up and down with the touch of a button. While Encana Corp. will dominate the building, Cenovus’s employees beat them to the elevators. One hundred and sixty-five Cenovus employees are now in The Bow, with about 2,000 more to come. “We like to describe ourselves as being very fresh and progressive and the building reflects our commitment to sustainability and a healthy organization and supports our culture of collaboration and innovation,” Ms. Froese said. … The Bow, controlled by H&R REIT, has been talked about since at least 2004, when Encana began to consider consolidating its office space. Encana owned the project when Gwyn Morgan ran the company, but current CEO Randy Eresman sold it, just as he spun out Cenovus. A second tower was put on ice….
Permalink to: Calgary’s towering environmental statement
Public needs improved access to Canadian courts, chief justice says by Ian Bailey, August 11, 2012, The Globe and Mail
Ms. McLachlin said the issue is especially relevant to civil courts, where there are not enough judges, lawyers are expensive – “I am not criticizing that, but it’s a fact” – and there are delays. The issue, she noted, is under review by the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, which includes the Canadian Bar Association, Justice Canada, and the Canadian Judicial Council. … She said funding is part of the issue. “Courts have to be adequately staffed. You have to have court clerks; you have to have registrars; you have to have people to run the courtrooms. “Everybody knows that and that costs some money, but you’re providing a public service. Whether it’s more or less (money), those are matters I can’t get into. I simply say courts have to be staffed. There are many other things that have to be done properly. It’s a complex picture.” … McMcLachlin, 69 and chief justice since 2000, said she has no plans to retire. [Emphasis added]
Holding Frackers Accountable for Groundwater Pollution: An Analysis of Canada’s Liability Regimes for Hydraulic Fracturing by Adam Shedletzky, University of Toronto Law School for Environment Probe, July 30, 2012
Several cases of suspected groundwater contamination due to faulty well casings from fracking operations have been documented, and one landmark case concerning fracking for shallow coal bed methane, Ernst v. Encana, is currently making its way through the courts in Alberta.
This paper will focus on the legal provisions governing groundwater pollution due to fracking for shale gas. More specifically, it will examine the legal liability regimes that regulate the compensation of individuals and the public in the event of groundwater pollution due to fracking activities in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. It will conclude with several recommendations for strengthening the regulatory regime to enhance frackers’ incentives to take care and to ensure that those who are adversely affected by fracking can be “made whole.”
Because the use of fracking in the extraction of shale gas in Canada is still very limited, there has been little opportunity to test the laws governing it. The lack of precedent makes it unclear whether the current legal liability regime is sufficient to ensure the sustainability of the fracking industry and the safety of the groundwater it potentially endangers.
There are several flaws with the current regulatory scheme. The Crown can choose whether to prosecute a polluting company or give it a free pass, with little recourse for concerned citizens. As long as a company takes “all reasonable precautions,” groundwater pollution could go unpunished (except, in some circumstances, in Ontario), and adversely affected individuals uncompensated. Individuals can sue under the common law, but only for damage to their own property. Additionally, there do not appear to be specific provisions to ensure that fracking operators are financially able to pay any fines or damages awarded against them.
On the other hand, those fracking for shale gas are subject to greater liability than are some other players in the energy industry. The current scheme leaves frackers open to potentially unlimited liability. The high daily fines, especially in Ontario and British Columbia, could lead to possible bankruptcy if the maximum fine is awarded for a longterm leak of fracking fluids or gas into groundwater. Additionally, there is no prohibition on common-law actions nor is there a cap on damages, leading to the potential for enormous penalties.
As governments around the world conduct environmental reviews of this burgeoning industry, it would be wise to further consider the implications of the current regulatory scheme and design a system of legal liability that ensures that 1) fracking operators have every incentive to take care and 2) adversely affected individuals can be “made whole.”
Incorporating the following recommendations would be a strong starting point:
• Eliminate the due diligence defence. At a minimum, limit the defence by creating a two tier regulatory scheme that imposes some level of absolute liability for administrative penalties and strict liability for criminal prosecutions.
• Ensure that administrative penalties are set at a level that accurately reflects potential damage.
• Require fracking operators to hold sufficient insurance to be capable of cleaning up groundwater pollution and paying substantial fines or damages.114
• Explicitly permit citizens to prosecute fracking operators for statutory violations where the Crown is unwilling to do so.
• Provide the court with explicit authority to impose additional penalties over and above the maximum in the case of negligence.
• Require companies to include a tracer in their fracking fluids so any potential groundwater contamination can be easily linked to a specific fracking operation.
• Ensure that individuals directing fracking operations are held personally liable for statutory and/or common-law violations.
Alberta Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner Order F2012-14 Alberta Health Case File Number F5460 June 29, 2012
An Adjudicator has ruled that Alberta Health must make records for water well information available to an Applicant
Summary: Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the “Act”), the Applicant asked Alberta Health (the “Public Body”) for water well information from 1986 to the present, which consisted of water chemistry and microbiological data. The Public Body withheld the requested information under section 17(1) of the Act, on the basis that its disclosure would be an unreasonable invasion of the personal privacy of third parties. While not actually applying section 16(1), the Public Body also raised the possibility that the requested information fell within the exception to disclosure set out in that section, on the basis that disclosure of the information might harm the business interests of third parties. The Applicant requested legal land descriptions associated with the wells from which water had been tested, but excluded the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the well owners, tenants or other individuals who had submitted the water samples. The Adjudicator found that the legal land descriptions, in conjunction with the water analyses contained in the records at issue, generally did not constitute anyone’s personal information, as that term is defined in section 1(n) of the Act. Rather, the information requested by the Applicant was about land, property, wells and/or water. Section 17(1)
therefore could not apply.
However, the Adjudicator found that the records at issue consisted of a small amount of personal information, namely in instances where the legal land description contained in the records, in conjunction with the history of occupants of the land available from other sources, would identify a particular individual who had submitted well water for testing. However, he found that section 17(1) of the Act did not apply to this personal information, as disclosure of the information would not be an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy. The Adjudicator also found that the records at issue would reveal personal information in instances where the water quality data indicated that groundwater was polluted or contaminated, and the source of the pollution or contamination could, by virtue of other available information, be traced to an identifiable individual. However, on consideration of the relevant circumstances, the Adjudicator found that section 17(1) of the Act did not apply to this personal information. Its disclosure was likely to promote public health and safety and the protection of the environment, within the terms of section 17(5)(b), which outweighed the possibility that the individuals in question had supplied personal information in confidence under section 17(5)(f). The Adjudicator further noted that an individual responsible for pollution or contamination would not be exposed “unfairly” to harm within the terms of section 17(5)(e), or have his or her reputation “unfairly” damaged, within the terms of section 17(5)(h). The relevant circumstances set out in those two sections were therefore not engaged so as to weigh against disclosure.
The Adjudicator found that section 16(1) of the Act did not apply to the records at issue, as disclosure would not be harmful to the business interests of any third parties. While suggested in the course of the inquiry, the water quality data requested by the Applicant was neither the “scientific and technical information” nor the “commercial information” of any businesses occupying the land from which the water was extracted. Further, even if the analyses of the water constituted information falling within the terms of section 16(1)(a), and even if the information could be characterized as being supplied in confidence under section 16(1)(b), the Adjudicator found that disclosure of the information could not reasonably be expected to bring about any of the consequences set out in section 16(1)(c). The Applicant argued that disclosure of groundwater data was clearly in the public interest under section 32(1)(b) of the Act. The Adjudicator found that the threshold for triggering that section had not been reached. While research into groundwater was an important objective, the circumstances were not so compelling as to require disclosure to the public.
As neither section 16(1) nor section 17(1) applied to the records at issue, the Adjudicator ordered the Public Body to give the Applicant access to copies of the responsive information in its possession, being copies of any and all Certificates of Chemical Analysis, Microbiological Reports and Chemical Content Summaries (but not including any names, addresses and telephone numbers). The Adjudicator’s order was conditional on the Applicant paying any required fees, or else being excused from paying fees, which was yet to be determined. Also yet to be determined was whether the Applicant was entitled to the creation of a record from the Public Body in a particular format under section 10(2).
Statutes Cited: AB: Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. F-25, ss. 1(n), 1(n)(i), 4(1)(l)(v), 6(3), 9(1), 9(2)(a), 10(2), 15, 16, 16(1), 16(1)(a), 16(1)(a)(ii), 16(1)(b), 16(1)(c), 16(1)(c)(i), 16(1)(c)(ii), 16(1)(c)(iii), 17, 17(1), 17(2), 17(2)(a), 17(2)(g)(ii), 17(4), 17(4)(a), 17(5), 17(5)(a), 17(5)(b), 17(5)(e), 17(5)(f), 17(5)(g), 17(f)(h), 18(1)(b), 30, 32, 32(1), 32(1)(a), 32(1)(b), 40(1)(bb), 67(1)(a)(ii), 71(1), 71(2), 72, 72(2)(a), 72(4), 93(1), 93(4) and 93(4)(b); Personal Information Protection Act, S.A. 2003, c. P-6.5, s. (1)(i)(k); Water Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. W-3, s. 3.
Authorities Cited: AB: Orders 96-003, 96-011, 96-013, 96-021, 97-011, 98-014, 98-018, 2000-017, F2002-002, F2004-013, F2004-024, F2004-028, F2005-011, F2006-010, F2006-014, F2006-030, F2007-019, F2008-018, F2008-020, F2008-025, F2008-031, F2009-023, F2009-028, F2010-001, F2010-009, F2010-013 and F2012-06; Qualicare Health Service Corporation v. Alberta (Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner), 2006 ABQB 515; Leon’s Furniture Ltd. v. Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner), 2011 ABCA 94, leave to appeal refused  S.C.C.A. No. 260 (QL); Edmonton (City) v. Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner), 2011 ABQB 226. ON: Orders PO-2322 (2004), MO-2053 (2006), MO-2199 (2007) and PO-2900 (2010). CAN: Gordon v. Canada (Minister of Health), 2008 FC 258. Other Sources Cited: Alberta Energy and Utilities Board and Alberta Environment, Development of a Memorandum of Understanding between Alberta Environment and Alberta Energy and Utilities Board to Enhance Collaboration for the Protection and Management of Ground Water (December 20, 2007); Alberta Environment, Alberta Tier 1 Soil and Ground Remediation Guidelines (Edmonton, December 2010); Government of Alberta, Alberta Environment’s Drinking Water Program: A ‘Source to Tap, Multi-Barrier’ Approach (Edmonton, May 2009); Government of Alberta, Water for Life: Alberta’s Strategy for Sustainability (Edmonton, 2003); “Multi-million Dollar Landmark North American Lawsuit on Hydraulic Fracturing and Its Impact on Groundwater” (online: retrieved October 12, 2011); “Province to scale back water monitoring”, Calgary Sun (online: March 14, 2010); Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy, Report of the Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy to the Ministry of Environment, Province of Alberta (Berkeley, February 2007); “Tell Us What’s Being Done to Our Ground Water, Demand Albertans”, The Tyee, B.C.’s Home for News, Culture and Solutions (online: October 17, 2011). [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: Edmonton man wins dispute for water info
An extraordinarily brave woman coming to Convention National Farmers Union Region 7 (Alberta) Newsletter, Spring 2012
Related to Jessica’s case, the NFU passed a resolution at the 2011 convention calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. In the NFU news release of February 2012, the call for a moratorium was made, as well as the conditions that would have to be met before it could be lifted. All voluntary recommendations issued by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) need to become mandatory, which means, aquifer protection is guaranteed by better casing construction, volumes and essence of fluids, and the use of all chemicals are disclosed and recorded. In addition, the NFU demands that instead of industry’s self-policing a truly independent regulator also enforce regulation and fines in case of non compliance, and that a third party regulator needs to be present on sites during all drilling and fracturing processes. Typically, when there is a case of contamination or disruption of neighbouring water wells, the common practice of energy companies ERCB and/or Alberta Environment is to address it somewhat and to have land owners sign a confidentiality agreement. That practice must be made illegal as it camouflages the extent of the environmental damage and it forms an affront to the public interest.
Permalink to: An extraordinarily brave woman coming to convention
Tories nixed proposed Charter birthday party by Stephanie Levitz, June 7, 2012, The Canadian Press
Bureaucrats planned an elaborate party to celebrate the birthday of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but the Conservative government refused to RSVP, newly released documents suggest. Instead, the idea of a ceremony to commemorate the charter’s 30th anniversary in April was overruled by Heritage Minister James Moore in favour of a terse press release. … The celebration envisaged by bureaucrats was billed as an opportunity to “underline the importance of the Constitution Act on Canada’s system of government, laws, and civil rights, including fundamental rights and freedoms of all Canadians.” The plan called for a televised event on Parliament Hill featuring the Governor-General, cabinet ministers and Canada’s chief librarian. One of two versions of the Proclamation Act of 1982 was also going to be on display. But when the proposal reached Mr. Moore’s office, it was rejected. … Instead, a short press release was issued marking the date and calling the charter “an important step in the development of Canada’s human rights policy.” At the time, the Tories were criticized for all but ignoring such a pivotal – and recent – event in Canadian history, while at the same time choosing to play up events from generations ago, like the War of 1812, which marks its bicentennial this year.
Permalink to: Tories nixed proposed Charter birthday party
Counter-terrorism unit set up in Alberta to help protect energy industry, public by John Cotter, June 6, 2012, The Canadian Press
The federal government has set up a counter-terrorism unit in Alberta and one of its main jobs will be to help protect the energy industry from attacks by extremists. The integrated national security enforcement team will be led by the RCMP and include officers from CSIS, the Edmonton and Calgary police forces and federal border patrol. Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said the key to effectively guarding the labyrinth of oil and natural gas wells, pipelines and refineries in Alberta will be to gather intelligence to prevent attacks before they happen. … “We are basically looking at any individuals or groups that pose a threat to critical infrastructure, to our economy, to our safety that is based on either religious, political or ideological goals.” … Michaud said the terrorist threat in Canada could come more from people inside the country than outside the border. … Michaud said the Alberta unit hasn’t been formed to snoop on people…. “There has to be violence attached to their activities in order for us to pay attention to them,” he said. “…it is important that intelligence is collected against the activities of groups before they become violent.”
Counter-terrorism unit to protect Alberta energy industry by The Canadian Press, June 6, 2012, CBC News
The federal government has set up a counter-terrorism unit in Alberta and one of its main jobs will be to help protect the energy industry from attacks by extremists. The integrated national security enforcement team will be led by the RCMP and include officers from CSIS, the Edmonton and Calgary police forces and federal border patrol. Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said the key to effectively guarding the labyrinth of oil and natural gas wells, pipelines and refineries in Alberta will be to gather intelligence to prevent attacks before they happen. “When we look at the booming economy of the province of Alberta over the years, one would be led to believe that there is an increased threat to the infrastructure,” Michaud said Wednesday. “We are basically looking at any individuals or groups that pose a threat to critical infrastructure, to our economy, to our safety that is based on either religious, political or ideological goals.”
There are about 400,000 kilometres of provincially regulated energy pipelines criss-crossing Alberta. That does not include federally regulated or smaller distribution pipelines. The Energy Resources Conservation Board estimates there are 176,000 operating oil and natural gas wells dotting Alberta’s landscape. There are also eight oilsands mines, five upgraders and more than 250 in situ oilsands facilities.
The industry says energy infrastructure is critical to Canada’s security. … Alberta has been working for years with the RCMP and the energy industry to better protect critical infrastructure from threats and began developing its own counter-terrorism management plan in 2002. … The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers welcomed Wednesday’s announcement. “Obviously it is important to protect the vital pieces of infrastructure that we have in the province,” association spokesman Travis Davies said from Calgary. “Whether it is oil and gas, wells, pipes, rail, electricity facilities — these are all critical to Canadian security.”
LISTEN: The Capitol Pressroom by Susan Arbetter, May 25, 2012, WCNY Connected
You know the David and Goliath story – In the version you will hear on today’s show, David is a 54 year old Canadian scientist by the name of Jessica Ernst .
Permalink to: LISTEN: The Capitol Pressroom
Jessica Ernst at Cortland Health Dept. New York May 24, 2012
Fracking hell, Vermont bans controversial practice, but Alberta still gung-ho by Suzy Thompson, May 24, 2012, Fast Foward Weekly
Vermont has become the first state to order a ban on hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking. When Vermont governor Peter Shumlin signed the state-wide prohibition into law on May 16, he said: “This bill will ensure we do not inject chemicals into groundwater in a desperate pursuit for energy. It is a big moment. I hope other states will follow us. The science on fracking is uncertain at best. Let the other states be the guinea pigs. Let the Green Mountain State preserve its clean water, its lakes, its rivers and its quality of life.” … “Industry claims that there are no known cases of water contamination, but it is because the government has failed to do testing of water sources before and after the fracking process,” says Lui. “A clear problem with Alberta’s regulations is that oil and gas wells are exempted from an individual environmental assessment process,” she says. “Jessica Ernst, a landowner in Rosebud, Alberta, claims that fracking has contaminated her well water, and provincial regulators have failed to investigate and enforce their processes.”
WATCH: Scientist Fracking Concerns by News Channel 34, May 23, 2012
A Canadian scientist was in Owego last night speaking about the potential dangers of hydrofracking.
Permalink to: WATCH: Scientist Fracking Concerns
Jessica Ernst at Elmira, Owego, Ithaca, La Fayette New York May 21 – 24, 2012
Truth and Consequences of Fracking 74 min. by ShaleShockMedia
Ms. Ernst tells her story of living frac’d and presents both industry and regulatory research showing the impact of industry-caused gas migration into ground water. She is introduced by Dr. Anthony R. Ingraffea, the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering, School of Civil Engineering at Cornell University. D. Ingraffea is Director of Cornell Fracture Group, Acting Director of the Cornell Theory Center, and Principal/Co-principal investigator of over M in sponsored RD at Cornell. He specializes in fracture mechanics.
Questions and Answers after Truth and Consequences of Fracking 45 min. by ShaleShockMedia
Dr. Anthony R. Ingraffea, the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering, School of Civil Engineering at Cornell University joins Jessica Ernst for the Q and A session
Jessica Ernst at Bath (Steuben County) New York May 21, 2012
Jessica Ernst and Kevin Heatley at Traverse City & Gaylord, Michigan May 18 & 19, 2012
Jessica Ernst at Traverse City, Michigan by newculture, June 5, 2012
U of C must obey Charter when disciplining students, rules court, Case relates to students who criticized instructor on Facebook in 2007 by Daryl Slade, May 9, 2012, Calgary Herald
The province’s top court has dismissed the University of Calgary’s appeal for autonomy in disciplining students for non-academic conduct. Alberta Court of Appeal, in its written decision released on Wednesday, concluded the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should apply in such situations. It upheld a judicial review by a Court of Queen’s Bench ruling that found the school infringed upon the freedom of expression of twin brothers Keith and Steven Pridgen, 22, when it sanctioned them for criticizing their professor on Facebook. “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to the disciplinary proceedings undertaken by the university,” Justice Marina Paperny wrote in the unanimous decision. “The decision of the Review Committee failed to take into account the Pridgens’ right to freedom of expression under the Charter. The decision breached the Pridgens’ freedom of expression and cannot be saved by the Charter. Moreover, the Review Committees’ decision was unreasonable from an administrative law perspective. The decision of the chambers judge to quash the Review Committee’s decision is upheld and the appeal of the university is dismissed.” Justices Bruce McDonald and Brian O’Ferrall agreed. … “Given the prolonged and protracted history of this unfortunate matter, I decline to exercise our jurisdiction to refer these matters back to the Board, which after all had wrongly declined to hear the respondents’ (Pridgens’) appeals in the initial instance,”
Canadian Scientist and Internationally Known Speaker Coming to Region May 21-24 by News Channel 34, May 8, 2012
She is visiting New York to help residents understand the dire consequences of fracking from the “ruthlessly cruel” industry before it begins in the state.
Canadian scientist against fracking headed to Southern Tier by Star Gazette, May 8, 2012
Ernst, an environmental consultant to the oil and gas industry, will present “The Truth and Consequences of Fracking” on four nights, May 21-24, in Elmira, Owego, Ithaca and LaFayette. All of the following events start at 7 p.m.:
» May 21, Elmira Heights Theater, 210 E. 14 St., Elmira Heights, sponsored by People for a Healthy Environment Inc.
» May 22, Hubbard Auditorium, Tioga County Office Building, 76 Main St., Owego, sponsored by Residents Against Fracking Tioga, and Coalition to Protect New York.
» May 23, First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, 306 N. Aurora St., Ithaca, sponsored by Shaleshock, Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition, and the Social Justice Committee of First Unitarian Society.
» May 24, LaFayette High School, 3122 Route 11 N., LaFayette, sponsored by Gas Drilling Awareness of Cortland County, ShaleshockCNY, Syracuse Peace Council, and Skaneateles Citizens Hydrofracking Committee.
LISTEN: New report says Alberta’s FOIP laws worst in country by CBC News, May 7, 2012
Alberta’s freedom of information laws rank last in the country when it comes to transparency.
Canadian activist touring N.Y. against fracking by The Ithaca Journal, May 6, 2012
A Canadian scientist fighting a gas company over contaminated well water in her home province is touring the Southern Tier and central New York with a message against the large-scale hydraulic fracturing technique proposed for the state. … “We are fortunate that Jessica Ernst is taking the time from her difficult and painful situation to share her cautionary story with us,” said Maura Stephens, a member of two of the sponsoring grassroots groups. “Even as a person who works in the industry, she had her water poisoned. And she’s been treated abominably by the corporation that poisoned it and the regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect people from such assault.”
Permalink to: Canadian activist touring N.Y. against fracking
Designed to Fail: Why Regulatory Agencies Don’t Work by William Sanjour, May 1, 2012, Independent Science News
But my experience has shown that by concentrating all legislative, executive and judiciary authority in one regulatory agency just makes it easier for it to be corrupted by the industries it regulates. I worked for the US Environmental Protection agency for 30 years and lived through many cycles of “Regulatory Reform,” doing the same “reforms” over and over again and expecting different results. … The theme of this article is that by dispersing regulatory authority, rather than concentrating it, we would make corruption more difficult and facilitate more sensible regulation.
Why can’t you fill regulatory agencies with honest people who won’t cave in to special interests? … The life, the existence, the future of the regulated industry depends on the pressure it can exert on the regulatory agency. … The regulated community constantly deals with regulatory agencies through congressional committees, the courts, and meetings with top government officials. … Industry also constantly interacts with individual agency employees at every level, working directly with the field inspectors and permit writers responsible for making regulatory decisions. For example, the inspector general of the Minerals Management Service concluded that officials in the agency had frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives (1) … People who cooperate with industry also find that its lobbyists will work for their advancement with upper management. Those who don’t cooperate find the lobbyists lobbying for their heads.
This process of regulatory agencies being gradually taken over by the regulated parties has been the subject of academic study for many years and has earned economist George Stigler a ‘Nobel’ prize. The upshot of this research is that regulatory agencies captured by the industries they regulate are worse than no regulation at all since capture gives industry the power of government.
Why are regulations so ineffectual? The short answer is that regulators are pulled many different ways simultaneously. When I was writing regulations, I was told on more than one occasion to make sure I put in enough loopholes. The purpose of the complexity is to hide the loopholes.
The reason salaried government regulators can be corrupted is that writing and enforcing effective regulations is not their number one priority. Their main objective is keeping their job and advancing their careers. The reason regulated industries ceaselessly exert pressure to corrupt government officials is that they believe managing their regulators is their only way to survive. …
In their infinite wisdom, the Founding Fathers chose to separate the legislative, executive and judicial functions of government. For some reason, this example was not followed when regulatory agencies were established. …
How do we get out of this? Legally: not very difficult. Politically: very difficult. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: Designed to Fail: Why Regulatory Agencies Don’t Work
Fracking Down Under, An open letter to New Zealand by Fred Stenson, May 2012, Alberta Views Magazine
New Zealand, I’m begging you to ignore what my province is telling you about fracking. A woman in Alberta, a long time oilfield employee trying to live in a rural area, has a water well that went to sweet to undrinkable (and flammable) on either side of the date when gas wells in her area were fracked. Despite her having mountains of evidence to support her claim, industry insists she has proven nothing. Our government accepts this. If criminal courts ran this way, convictions would be a thing of the past. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: Fracking down Under
Landmark Fracking Lawsuit starts with Twist in Alberta by Andrew Nikiforuk, April 27, 2012, GlobalResearch.ca
Permalink to: Landmark Fracking Lawsuit starts with Twist in Alberta
Landmark fracking lawsuit starts with twist by Andrew Nikiforuk, April 27, 2012, The Tyee.ca
A landmark lawsuit against an energy giant and two Alberta government regulatory agencies concerning water well contamination by hydraulic fracturing started with an unusual twist in Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench yesterday. Judge B. L. Veldhuis began the proceedings in a Drumheller courtroom attended by 20 landowners from across the province by admitting that she was going to do something unexpected: she then asked for a shorterstatement of claim. … Neither EnCana nor the Alberta regulators have fielded statements of defence on shallow fracking incidents that took place eight years ago during a frenzied coal-bed methane drilling boom in central Alberta. Instead, lawyers for both EnCana and the ERCB came prepared to argue a variety of motions to dismiss the entire case or strike out entire paragraphs from Ernst’s highly readable 73-page statement of claim as “inflammatory” and “embarrassing.” In particular, the ERCB, whose mission is to develop oil and gas “in a manner that is fair, responsible and in the public interest,” was prepared to argue that it has “no duty of care” to a landowner with contaminated water. Toronto lawyer Murray Klippenstein, who represents Ernst, agreed with the judge’s request and says he will submit a shorter claim within a month. (Klippenstein, a no-nonsense litigator on critical justice issues, successfully represented the family of slain First Nation activist Dudley George against the Ontario government of Mike Harris.) “We know that EnCana and the Board and the government did not like the detailed description of Jessica’s case and were trying very hard to have parts removed,” explained Klippenstein outside the courtroom. “The judge wanted a more concise description and that can be easily provided.” … Ernst’s case recently received a major boost from Alberta’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. For four years Alberta Innovates (formerly Alberta Research Council) refused to answer Ernst’s repeated requests for the results of environmental testing on dozens of water wells near her home. Adjudicator Teresa Cunningham ruled that the withholding of such public information was illegal. It not only ordered the government to release thousands of documents but also reimburse Ernst more than $4,000 for information searches it did not conduct in good faith. The commissioner also ruled that the Alberta agency “had not established that it had conducted an adequate search for responsive records that might be in its control, but not its immediate possession.” Alberta has one of the worst records of public transparency in Canada, according to the Centre for Law and Democracy. [Emphasis added]
French Translation: Gaz de schiste – la première journée en cour pour Jessica April 28, 2012 by lesamisdurichelieu
Restrict shale gas fracking to 600m from water supplies, says study, Researchers recommend ‘absolute minimum’ safe zone of 600m between fracking and aquifers by Press Association, April 25, 2012, The Guardian
Controversial “fracking” for shale gas should only take place at least 600 metres down from aquifers used for water supplies, scientists said on Wednesday. A new study revealed the process…caused fractures running upwards and downwards through the ground of up to 588 metres from their source.
Jessica Ernst at Prince Albert Saskatchewan April 22, 2012
Permalink to: 2012 04 22 Jessica Ernst at Prince Albert Saskatchewan
Encana sells Horseshoe Canyon stake to Toyota Tsusho for $602 million, monetizes CBM in southern Alberta by Dina O”Meara, April 21, 2012 Calgary Herald
Encana stock…has dropped 46 per cent since last May….
The fight against shale gas Internet translation of article by André Picot, Toxicochimiste, president of ATC Toxicology, April 21, 2012, Huffingtonpost.fr
Hence our assumption that these new products could only come from chemical interactions, favored by temperature and pressure very high in this natural reactor formed in the deep underground during the fracturing of the shale. And salts of trivalent chromium (Cr3 +) low toxicity (allergenic only) are oxidized to hexavalent (Cr6 +) known as chromate, which are potent mutagens and carcinogens in humans. … Recent publications show an abnormal rate of cancer…around extraction sites….
Schlumberger outlines future roadmap for fracking by John Kemp, Reuters, April 20, 2012, Calgary Herald
So far the approach has been based on brute force: employing ever-increasing amounts of horsepower, fracking fluid and sand to wring natural gas and oil from previously inaccessible tight rock formations in a manner that is wasteful, expensive and maximizes the environmental impact. [emphasis added] … Excessive amounts of horsepower and water are applied in “massive frack” jobs, creating fracture networks much deeper than can be propped open and where the unpropped part of the network makes little or no contribution to production. … But Kibsgaard’s speech suggests the technology is still in its infancy, with plenty more potential to slash costs and improve efficiency as the industry replaces brute-force with a more sophisticated approach.
Permalink to: Fracking “maximizes the environmental impact”
Earth Day weekend has something for everyone by Tyler Clarke, Aril 20, 2012, The Prince Albert Daily Herald
Permalink to: Earth Day weekend has something for everyone
Encana signs joint venture with Toyota Tsusho for 1/3 interest coalbed methane wells in southern Alberta by The Canadian Press, April 20, 2012
Encana announced Friday that the Japanese company will acquire a 32.5 per cent royalty interest in about 5,500 existing and future Encana coalbed methane wells. … Under the agreement announced Friday, Toyota Tsusho paid $100 million with the closing of the transaction and will invest approximately $502 million over seven years to acquire a 32.5 per cent royalty interest in production from 4,000 existing wells and 1,500 potential future drilling locations.
Every Canadian’s eco-rights need Charter protection by Devon Page and Peter Robinson, April 18, 2012, Globe and Mail
If pollutants poison the well and make one of us sick, we’re all at risk. In 2001, the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion about the bond between health and the environment. After upholding a municipality’s right to restrict the use of harmful pesticides in Hudson, Que., the court said, “Our common future, and that of every Canadian community, depends on a healthy environment.”
Permalink to: Every Canadian’s eco-rights need Charter protection
Woman wins hard fought battle for information by Alex McCuaig, April 18, 2012, Medicine Hat News
The privacy commissioner’s decision released Monday states Alberta Innovates — formerly the Alberta Research Council (ARC) — “had not established that it had exercised its discretion reasonably when it elected to withhold information.” … “It is a strongly worded order,” said Alberta Innovates spokesperson Rob Semeniuk, “we have received it and reviewed it and will fully comply.” … “It not only rules in my favour, it goes way beyond — I’m speechless,” said Ernst. “It is a powerful ruling for all Albertans and mostly for the little ordinary ones because for decades now the landowners that suffer the abuses, pollution and noise on their land have done so quietly and in pain… This ruling shows this has got to stop.” … “I did that FOIP not for me but I did it for all Albertans,” said Ernst. And she added she is not going to stop requesting data that she believes will show fracking activities is causing issues with the province’s ground water supply and aquifers. “This is billions of dollars at stake. If word gets out that fracking is contaminating water all around the world, all Hell is going to break loose,” said Ernst.
Permalink to: Woman wins hard fought battle for information
Ruling advances woman’s tainted water lawsuit, documents must be released, says Alberta information boss by Matthew McClure, April 17, 2012, Calgary Herald
In a scathing decision that ends a three-year battle by Rosebud resident Jessica Ernst, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has ordered a government agency to release thousands of pages of documents that could reveal how scientists concluded the contamination was naturally occurring. Adjudicator Teresa Cunningham ordered Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures to refund the entire $4,125 fee charged for processing Ernst’s request because keeping test results, draft reports and even proposed news releases under wraps with no legal basis contravened her right to timely disclosure. “The amount of severing done and the lack of justification for it has resulted in the applicant being deprived of her rights,” Cunningham said. “The public body withheld information for reasons that were not borne out by the records, and charged inflated costs for processing the access request.” … The commissioner’s order will now force the agency to reveal the results of tests on the wells on which it based its conclusions as well as discussions about drafts of the report between its scientists and Alberta Environment officials. In ruling those records were not advice that could be kept private, Cunningham said e-mails indicated changes in the report appeared to be the result of instructions from the department. … Rob Semeniuk, spokesman for Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures [previously Alberta Research Council], said the agency will comply with the order to refund the fees and release nearly 6,000 pages of documents. “We thought we were doing the right thing by not supplying the information,” Semeniuk said. … Encana did not respond to a request for comment.
Ruling advances woman’s tainted water lawsuit, Documents must be released, says Alberta information boss by Matthew McClure, April 17, 2012, Edmonton Journal
Rosebud resident Jessica Ernst lays out documentation on coal bed methane development and correspondence between her and the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board in 2006. Photograph by: Tim Fraser, Calgary Herald
Alberta Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner Order F2012-06 Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (previously Alberta Research Council) Case File Numbers F4743, F4762 March 30, 2012 (publicly released April 16, 2012)
An Adjudicator has determined that Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures must release information that it had withheld under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and refund the fees it charged for processing an access request.
CONSTITUTION Why this year could prove to be the Charters most controversial by Kirk Makin, April 15, 2012, The Globe and Mail
Created 30 years ago amid immense political controversy, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms could easily have become an empty shell. Instead, its guarantees of liberty, equality and fairness have permeated political life and Canadian cultural consciousness. Yet, for all the contentious issues it has settled, the Charter is poised to become more relevant than ever. A federal government with an ambitious agenda of reform is running headlong toward the one institution that has the power to send it back to the drafting board – the judiciary. … And a wave of new challenges is surging forward, including to mandatory minimum sentences, electronic surveillance and enhanced police powers. Prime Minister Stephen Harper may not face strong opposition in Parliament or from the provinces, but his policies are brushing up against more core legal roadblocks than any of his predecessors faced. Many legal experts believe that the Charter could be used to block mandatory minimum sentences, a crackdown on refugees and measures that will pack more inmates into already-overcrowded prisons. … With lower-court judges starting to dismantle some legislation, the burning question becomes: What will the Supreme Court of Canada do? … “Already, there are signs of pushback from the courts,” said law professor Jamie Cameron, of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “It’s no secret that the Harper government is determined to test the limits of its power, for example, with criminal law, refugee law and Internet surveillance.” The government’s biggest courtroom loss came last fall, when the Supreme Court of Canada ordered it to keep its hands off of Insite, a supervised drug-injection clinic in Vancouver. The decision reverberated through the judiciary; serving for many judges as a sign from the top that it will act boldly when a situation warrants it. … When a judge finds that a Charter guarantee has been violated, the government is then compelled to show that the breach is “justifiable in a free and democratic society.” The key yardsticks in this analysis are whether the goal of the law was important enough to justify breaching a Charter right and whether less intrusive ways of achieving the same goal were available. After 30 years and hundreds of cases, some decidedly elastic concepts have also been added to the mix – such as whether the law was “arbitrary” or “grossly disproportionate” to the government’s goal. The next laws in line to fall may be some of the mandatory minimum sentences contained in a recent omnibus bill – Bill C-10. Queen’s University law professor Donald Stuart predicted that among the first to go could be a mandatory minimum sentence for growing as few as five marijuana plants. Echoing a widely held view in the legal community, Prof. Stuart argued the provision is so “simplistic and ridiculous” that it could cause the courts to breathe life into a little-used Charter guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.
The Charter proves to be Canada’s gift to world by John Ibbitson, April 15, 2012, Globe and Mail
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was signed 30 years ago Tuesday. Since then, not only has it become a national bedrock, but the Charter has replaced the American Bill of Rights as the constitutional document most emulated by other nations. … The Charter of Rights and Freedoms not only prohibits discrimination based on race or gender, it protects mobility and language rights and enshrines the presumption of innocence.
Permalink to: The Charter proves to be Canada’s gift to world
16×9 Untested Science: Fracking natural gas controversy Published by 16x9onglobal to Youtube on April 13, 2012, originally released November 5, 2011 (Season 4 Ep. 10)
Ernst Flaming Water
Ernst presenting at Cochrane Ranch House, September 10, 2011
Alberta Ranks Last in Transparency Study by Centre for Law and Democracy, April 9, 2012
The Centre for Law and Democracy today released the results of a comparative study which highlights problems with Alberta’s access to information legislation. … Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) finished last in the group. … “Given the repeated political scandals involving a lack of accountability, we hope that the this study will raise awareness about the urgent need to improve Canada’s access to information laws across the board.” Alberta’s poor score came mainly as a result of the narrow scope of the law and the overly broad regime of exceptions. These loopholes, which include blanket exclusions for the offices of MLAs and for information relating to government contracts, severely undermine the ability of the law to function properly as a tool for public accountability. … Canada came in 40th place worldwide with a score of 85. Alberta would have placed 51st on that survey, just behind Angola, Colombia and Niger.
Permalink to: Alberta Ranks Last in Transparency Study
Alberta needs a moratorium on fracking by Dittmar Mundel, April 3, 2012, The Camrose Booster
Other documented drinking water contamination cases include the Zimmermans near Wetaskiwin, Jacks at Spirit River, and Campbells at Ponoka. … My concerns and the billions we give this industry in subsidies leads me to conclude that we need a moratorium on fracking until it is carefully studied and proven safe, clean and economical.
Permalink to: Alberta needs a moratorium on fracking
Full Disclosure, Rapid spread of hydraulic fracturing hastens move to greener additives and transparent reporting by Maurice Smith, April 1, 2012, New Technology Magazine
One of the most contentious issues surrounding the rapid expansion of horizontal drilling and multistage fracturing—that of fracture fluid composition— is soon to become more transparent as Alberta moves to join other jurisdictions across North America to require mandatory public reporting of frac fluid chemical additives by the end of 2012. Rather than see it as an unnecessary and intrusive invasion into the sphere of proprietary and protected company assets that could hinder competitiveness, many in the oil and gas industry welcome the move, at least to a point. “From our standpoint, we would certainly be happy to see that happen,” says Ron Gusek, vice-president, corporate engineering, with Calgary-based Sanjel Corporation. “For the most part, the chemicals that we pump in the frac industry are things that you would find in your house, in some way, shape or form. So there is not any terrible secret to hide. “I think as an industry we want to be open and forthright. We recognize that probably as an industry we haven’t been good enough about disclosure and it’s time we changed that,” he says.
“I don’t see [disclosure] being a problem at all— not for Trican or any of our competitors,” says Dave Browne, Trican Well Service Ltd. vice-president, marketing. Trican already operates in jurisdictions requiring some level of disclosure, both in the United States and most recently in British Columbia, which launched compulsory disclosure in January. “At the end of a [frac] job we can give our customer a printout or an electronic version of all the additives that we put into the well,” Browne says. The issue of exactly what is being pumped deep underground, often at a rate of millions of gallons per well, is particularly volatile in the United States, where public concerns about frac fluids, as well as groundwater contamination and water use and disposal, have generated opposition to—and in some cases bans against—the large-scale fracking operations that primarily target shale gas and tight oil.
In a report detailed at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver in February, senior academics from the University of Texas in Austin recommended regulators step up efforts to ensure the safe handling of frac fluids, suggesting that, while there was little or no evidence to show fracking contaminated aquifers, more should be done to prevent surface accidents and spills. “Surface spills of fracturing fluids appear to pose greater risk to groundwater sources than from hydraulic fracturing itself,” states the report, which also noted its environmental review was hampered by companies’ limited disclosure of the chemicals used in frac fluids, some of which are known to be toxic and carcinogenic.
“Disclosure of fracking fluids is a very big issue” for investors, says Susan Williams of the Sustainable Investors Institute (Si2), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that conducts impartial research and publishes reports on organized efforts to influence corporate behaviour on social and environmental issues. “There is a lot of investor interest in particular because it’s become a contention with a lot of members of the public and—wanting to head off any additional restrictions on drilling—investors would like to see that issue addressed by companies.” Williams is the author of Discovering Shale Gas: An Investor Guide to Hydraulic Fracturing, a report commissioned by Si2 and the Investor Responsibility Research Center released in February. She says public concern about possible water contamination is exacerbated by the lack of information on specific chemicals in the fracking fluids. While governments and the industry are moving toward more disclosure, a significant debate continues over the level of reporting required.
It may indeed be a lack of knowledge about the chemicals being used that brings about public trepidation in the first place, which can often be alleviated with full disclosure, Gusek says. He recounts a meeting with stakeholders near Pigeon Lake (south of Edmonton) in February where he laid out the company’s plans for fracking operations there. “We told them everything that was in the particular fluid system that we were going to be pumping and showed them exactly where they would find it in their house. And I think they were a lot more comfortable after that process in terms of understanding exactly what it was we brought out there, and what that would mean in terms of exposure to it. I think the realization they come to is to say, ‘We actually do have that in our house and, of course, I wouldn’t drink it there, so I shouldn’t come to your location and drink it either, but those are certainly products that can be safely managed on a day-to-day basis.’”
Frac fluids typically contain some combination of friction reducer (slick water), gelling agent, corrosion and scale inhibitors, surfactants, acid, breakers, crosslinkers and biocides, each of which can play a critical role in a successful frac. All the chemicals combined typically make up between 0.5 and two per cent of the frac fluid composed of mostly water with some sand proppant, diluting the additives to the point that “if we spilled 1,000 litres of water on the ground, 10 litres of that would actually be chemical and the rest of it would be completely harmless to the environment,” Gusek says. In the instance Gusek describes, the fluid system contained such substances as potassium chloride, which is used in low sodium table salt substitutes; a surfactant using isopropanol, a rubbing alcohol that can be found in soaps and shampoos; a buffer containing acetic acid, the main component of vinegar; and a breaker containing magnesium oxide, which can be found in a laxative, magnesium supplement or antacid. “We went through the whole process with [the local residents] so they would understand exactly what was in each of those things, and I think at the end of the day they realized we are not out there with some top secret formula that contains a lot of obscure dangerous chemicals that they have never heard of before and don’t see on a day-to-day basis. And so I think they felt a lot better about that.”
NOT ALL DISCLOSURE IS EQUAL
Williams, however, is not convinced the public is content with the level of disclosure being offered, which can significantly differ by jurisdiction. She points to three main points of contention that have arisen in the United States: the determination of hazardous chemicals, trade secret exemptions and ease of public access to data. While companies in the United States must produce Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) describing additives, MSDS s only report chemicals deemed to be hazardous in an occupational setting under standards adopted by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA ), she says. “One issue there is that additional chemicals [not listed by OSHA] might be hazardous if you look at them in terms of bioaccumulation,” says Williams. Colorado, which has recently inaugurated new regulations, is one of the leaders in requiring higher levels of disclosure, she says. “They are requiring all chemicals, not only chemicals determined hazardous by OSHA , but all chemicals to be reported, and then taking it a step further by asking them to report their concentrations as well.” Drillers must also disclose the chemical family of any proprietary chemical and its concentration. Some companies consider portions of their fluid formulas, including the composition and concentrations, to be proprietary information. Thus far, all states allow trade secret exemptions; some states make the final determination for what is considered a trade secret, while others allow companies to make that determination, Williams says. But while trade secrets may be exempted from full disclosure, companies are required to disclose any hazardous chemicals’ properties and effects, and specific chemical identities must be made available to health professionals, employees and designated representatives under certain circumstances.
A hydraulic fracturing chemical registry website, FracFocus.org, was established last April by the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission to allow public access to reported chemicals used within their area. Several states require disclosure to the non-governmental site, while British Columbia has activated a similar database, FracFocus.ca, based on its American cousin. The B.C. site was built to accommodate future participation by other jurisdictions across Canada. FracFocus.org users can run queries by state, county, operator and/or well name for a specific well to generate a report that lists the trade name, supplier, purpose, chemical ingredients, chemical abstract service number and maximum percentage of ingredients in the mix, when available. Initially, FracFocus posted only the chemicals that appear on an MSDS , but in September the GWPC announced it would provide for the reporting of all chemicals added to the fracking fluid, except for proprietary chemicals.
As of November, there were more than 7,000 records in the FracFocus.org system and 80 companies participating, though the numbers—and the legislation driving them up—are changing so fast even FracFocus has trouble keeping up. “The changes in state public disclosure laws are occurring so fast that posting a comprehensive list of all states contemplating or preparing laws in this area is not possible as it would change on a frequent basis,” the website states. While FracFocus is a step in the right direction, Williams says it has its limitations. “FracFocus is very useful if you are a resident who lives near a well and you want to see what’s happening with that well, such as what chemicals were part of the fracking fluid in that particular well. But if you are an investor, FracFocus is pretty limited in its usefulness because it’s not a searchable database. For instance, if you have a concern about a particular chemical, you would have to go through every single well report to find out which companies are using that chemical. You can’t aggregate data by company or identify which companies use a particular chemical—it’s simply not a searchable database. “FracFocus has indicated if they can get additional funding they would like to make it a searchable database, so they are working towards that,” Williams says. “And part of the new legislation in Colorado says that for now companies should disclose information on FracFocus, but if FracFocus hasn’t taken steps to make its data searchable by 2013, then the state will build its own database and make it searchable.”
Meanwhile, service companies are making progress in the increasing “greening” of frac fluids, which in the end could make disclosure inconsequential if new products pose no public health risk. Baker Hughes Inc., for example, promotes its family of BJ SmartCare environmentally preferred fracking fluids, and Halliburton offers its CleanSuite products for hydraulic fracturing and water treatment. Greening its fluids “is a continual process for us,” says Browne, whose company’s investment in innovation has made it the only pumping services company to make the list of Canada’s top 100 corporate research and development spenders in 2007-09 and 2011 (as defined by RE$EARCH Infosource Inc., a division of consulting firm The Impact Group). Trican’s Research and Development Centre in Calgary houses stimulation, cement and reservoir characterization laboratories as well as coiled tubing tool development facilities. The company has made several advances to make its fracturing processes more environmentally friendly, Browne says, creating fracking products that are biodegradable, non-toxic and non-bioaccumulating. One example is its development of blenders that allow chemicals to be mixed as they go downhole rather than in surface tanks beforehand, decreasing the chances of chemical spills and leading to less waste of premixed fluids. “The way we do it now is on-the-fly. We are taking the [gelling agent guar gum] powder out to the job site and mixing it with water in a special machine as we go,” says Browne. “We are striving as an industry to develop greener and greener systems,” adds Gusek, whose company has developed an internal rating system to measure the environmental footprint of its fluid systems. In one case, the company was able to replace three out of four additives in a treatment using hydrochloric acid, which is often used “as a spearhead in front of a frac, to help to break down the rock before the main frac treatment gets there.” The lower-toxicity additives trimmed the treatment’s score in half, creating “a substantially lower impact blend, without any change in the performance—and it didn’t have any impact on the cost,” Gusek says. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: Trican Donates $5 Million to Fight Childhood Cancer ]
Despite regulations, gas wells leak, especially as they get older by Nick Teti, April 1, 2012, Coshocton Tribune
One in 20 wells will leak immediately, and the numbers rise dramatically as wells age, said Cornell University Professor Dr. Anthony Ingraffea. … According to an article titled “Shale Gas — A business plan very much in the red,” by Professor Marc Durand, a geologist at the University of Quebec, all the hundreds of thousands of wells drilled in the North American Shale will deteriorate. They are lying in brine 70 times saltier than sea water that has been laced with a host of chemicals. Thousands of miles of horizontally drilled well casings and the surrounding cement are compromised by having been shot through with holes from the perforating gun used in the fracking process. Steel corrodes, cement shrinks and cracks: nothing lasts forever. The wells are designed for a working life of three to five years, the time it takes to harvest the gas while it flows at a fast enough rate to be profitable. Twenty to 50 years after they cease production, many of the wells will have eroded enough to provide a highway between the shale layer and the surface. Here’s the kicker: Fracking only gets the 20 percent of the gas that has seeped into the spaces that naturally occur in the shale. The remaining 80 percent is within the rock itself, and it will continue to slowly leach out into a shale formation that has been opened by fracking fluid, said Durand. What will be the effect of hundreds of thousands of deteriorating wells trickling methane and toxins into our air, land and water for thousands of years? The gas industry doesn’t ask this question because once it has the gas, it pumps some cement down the hole and it falls to the taxpayers to find the long-term answer. Durand makes the point that the costs to a community of dealing with methane migration over time will far exceed the income generated during the brief boom. [Emphasis added]
Jessica Ernst at Knee Hill Valley Constituency of the Alberta Women’s Institute Trochu, Alberta March 31, 2012
Cenovus boss a new type of CEO by Deborah Yedlin, March 31, 2012, Calgary Herald
It was back in the fall of 1987, when Brian Ferguson had just been appointed to investor relations at Alberta Energy Company, that two rather tall research types invited him to lunch. … Of the oilsands players today, it’s Cenovus that is enjoying its day in the market sun, arguably usurping the position long held by Suncor. Since being spun out of Encana, Cenovus has seen its shares rise to the point where the company’s market value is through $27 billion compared with Encana’s $14.5 billion. … All this validates what many analysts said when it was spun out in November 2009; buy Cenovus and sell Encana. Anyone that listened has made quite the trade.
Permalink to: Cenovus boss a new type of CEO
Frac threat charges laid by Lea Smaldon and John Gleeson, March 27, 2012, Mountain View Gazette
Last Thursday, Sundre RCMP charged Kim Mildenstein, 39, with two counts of uttering threats after investigating an Energy and Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) complaint about a faxed Objection To An Energy Resources Project form it received March 15. The document writer raised an unresolved concern with NAL Energy regarding a fracking and flaring project at 13-30-33-04-W5 in Mountain View County, a few miles north east of Sundre in the Eagle Valley area. If you frack I will blow up your well and shoot bullets at your crew NAL. You are at risk. You are placing employees at risk,” a portion of the signed document states. … In November, the Gazette ran a story on Mildenstein’s efforts to spur the county and oil and gas companies to take prompt action to remedy ongoing traffic concerns in Eagle Valley. Mildenstein presented a list of requests and a litany of concerns when she met with county officials and ERCB representatives at the offices of the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group in Sundre on Oct. 31. She said residents had been put at risk by excessive speeds, dangerous driving and the inordinate volume of traffic resulting from high oil and gas activity in the area. “One truck per minute per hour – that’s what our neighbour calculated,” Mildenstein said. “That was for four months straight, day and night. You can imagine how hard it was to sleep with the jake brakes going into the valley.” Mildenstein said she filed at least 10 objections through the ERCB website after school buses returned to the roads last fall….
ERCB spokesperson Bob Curan said the ERCB rarely receives correspondence it perceives to be threatening.
The document writer raised concerns over water contamination from fracking. …
“Request FRACK FLUID LIST faxed to my home. (STOP CANCER)” [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: Fracking Canada: No Duty of Care
Fracking grievances aired at Eagle Hill, September 13, 2011 Willard said the ERCB “supports full disclosure” of chemicals used in the process, and added there would be an announcement later this month on the issue.]
Permalink to: Frac threat charges laid
NAL resumes operations Lea Smaldon, March 27, 2012, Mountain View Gazette
A company spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the evacuation. Clayton Paradis, NAL director of investor relations, did confirm though that work at the site didn’t permanently cease. “We did continue operations,” said Paradis. … Asked if anything has changed because of the alleged threat over fracking, Paradis said, “Today, no. Will it change in the future? Potentially.” … And he added that change is already underfoot with the ERCB formulating rules to require public disclosure of frac fluids.
Permalink to: NAL resumes operations
Ernst learned of alleged threat prior to Eagle Hill appearance by John Gleeson, March 27, 2012, Mountain View Gazette
“Yes, I knew about it,” Ernst said. “What happens – and this is one of the parts about being fracked that is so upsetting – all day long my phone is ringing.” … “And it wasn’t just at Eagle Hill that I raised the issue of violence.” Ernst, 55, said she had spoken out against violence while addressing students in New Brunswick and on a recent tour of Ireland, where she warned the audience not to “let fracking put you right back to where your governments want you.” With violence, she said, “we lose our power,” … “People are really afraid for their children because they don’t know what the risks are,” she said. “The ERCB is only out there for profit. We are expendable. We are surface elements.”
CAPP aims to ease fracking concerns by Troy Media, March 26, 2012
Bradley Walters, a professor of geography and environmental studies at Mount Allison University, says the Maritime Provinces have been caught flat-footed by the eastern spread of the U.S. shale gas boom. The fracking issue is of particular concern for Walters, who says the environmental and health effects have not been sufficiently studied. In particular, he worries about the chemicals used in fracking fluid, and their ability to enter the water supply. … “I feel that an outright moratorium or ban is the only responsible thing to do,” says the Sackville, N.B.-based academic. “Our governments are simply in no position in terms of knowledge, capacity or political will to effectively regulate this industry. The governments here seem willing to let industry self-regulate. I find that prospect very worrisome.” … In September, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) introduced guiding principles for hydraulic fracturing, and followed up in January with new operating practices. … President David Collyer stated: “Applying these new operating practices will contribute to improving our environmental performance and transparency over time….” In June 2011, New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative government announced new rules aimed at strengthening public confidence in the fledgling sector. Among the new regulations: oil and gas companies must pay for independent baseline well water testing; disclose all the fluids and chemicals used in the fracking process; and put up a security bond to protect property owners in the event of an industrial accident. And in February 2012, Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board announced it will roll out new rules by the end of this year that will require companies to disclose ingredients in fracking fluids. … CAPP’s Guy points to Alberta, where some 167,000 hydraulic fracturing procedures have taken place…fracking has not produced a single case of water contamination. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: CAPP aims to ease fracking concerns
Woman charged with making threats against oilfield operator near Sundre by Calgary Herald, March 23, 2012
SUNDRE . RCMP have laid charges against a Sundre woman after threats were made against oilfield operator NAL resources. Police say the threats were made against employees of the company and equipment used in operations in the Sundre area. Kimberly Mildenstein, 39, is charged with two counts of uttering threats and is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Didsbury next month. Last November, the Mountain View Gazette reported that Kim Mildenstein had complained about traffic safety issues related to oil and gas operations in the Sundre area at a meeting. Mildenstein presented her concerns at a meeting Oct. 31 with county officials and representatives of the Energy Resource Conservation Board at the offices of Sundre Petroleum Operators Group. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: Fracking Canada: No Duty of Care
Fracking grievances aired at Eagle Hill, September 13, 2011 Willard said the ERCB “supports full disclosure” of chemicals used in the process, and added there would be an announcement later this month on the issue.]
Dr. Karlis Muehlenbachs at University of Alberta Edmonton March 21, 2012
Fracturing: How to assess its impact on groundwater: Lessons from Alberta, Canada
Jessica Ernst rejects violence, threats as solution by John Gleeson, March 20, 2012, Mountain View Gazette
An internationally recognized anti-fracking activist who spoke at Eagle Hill last week rejected “violence or threats” as an appropriate response to public concerns. “It’s a very emotional thing, injecting toxic chemicals into our drinking water, to have our lives invaded,” Rosebud resident Jessica Ernst told a crowd of about 130 people at Eagle Hill Community Hall at the start of her presentation Thursday night. “But once we do violence, once we threaten, we lose everything,” Ernst said. Instead, she said, the cause should be fought with “integrity and truth and people power.”…Her presentation, called Truth and Consequences of Fracking, blended her general analysis of the industry’s impact with her own experience in Rosebud, rejecting many of the arguments given by the industry and government regulators. “The casing protects us, they say, but they’re blasting lots of holes in the casing and cement,” she said. While officials say there has never been a documented case of groundwater contamination due to fracking in Alberta, Ernst said there are “hundreds of other cases sealed by confidentiality agreements” that disprove that claim….Ernst said the government created Synergy Alberta in 2006, “right in the heat of all the frac action and all the contamination cases going public,” and warned that synergy groups – one spectator pointed out that Sundre Petroleum Operators Group [SPOG] was the local entity – are funded by industry and designed to produce manufactured or implied consent. “You need to have the ability to say no to being synergized – stand up on your farm and say no,” Ernst urged the audience.
Permalink to: Jessica Ernst rejects violence, threats as solution
Two arrested after threats made against fracking site by Lea Smaldon, March 20, 2012, Mountain View Gazette
The Energy Resources Conservation Board contacted Sundre RCMP after receiving a faxed correspondence Thursday morning that staff “perceived to be threatening,” said ERCB spokesperson Bob Curan…. “No, people certainly express concern about development on a regular basis but rarely do we get things we perceive to be a threat,” Curan said.
Permalink to: Two arrested after threats made against fracking site
Paddy sounds fracking alarm by John Gleeson, March 20, 2012, Mountain View Gazette
The past reeve of Mountain View County launched a fracking awareness campaign last week, calling on his council and other municipalities to press the Alberta government to get serious about regulating the controversial practice. “I believe we have an unsuspecting public that isn’t being told the whole truth by the ERCB,” Div. 6 Coun. Paddy Munro told council’s policies and priorities committee Wednesday. … Munro said the problem now is a lack of data, no disclosure of frac chemicals, downplaying of water usage by regulators and industry, and no licensing of water withdrawals. The Energy Resource Conservation Board and stakeholder groups such as the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance and the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group have failed to publicly acknowledge the serious potential environmental impacts of fracking, he said. While attending a recent oil and gas industry conference on media and community relations, Munro said he learned the industry is “scared stiff” about regulations that are coming in the wake of public concerns. “Industry is scared to death because they know what’s coming. They know the regulators aren’t doing their job now, but they’re worried about it swinging the other way.”… “I don’t think the organization is taken seriously,” Munro said of SPOG. “Most of the industry reps aren’t in the position to make any decisions. If we’re going to have 370 wells in our SPOG zone I’d like to see some communication with people who are actually going to make the decisions.” … “A lot of people just want their questions answered,” Munro said.
Permalink to: Paddy Munro sounds fracking alarm
Gas Wells Leak – Even Upside Down – in Australia 44% of gas wells leaking in the Tara Coalbed Methane field by Will Cottrell, March 14, 2012, Shaleshockmedia
A study of a gas field in Queensland, Australia has found 44% of gas wells leaking…. The report adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that gas drilling inevitably leads to water contamination as gas escapes from boreholes. The study, conducted in the Tara, Queensland field examined 56 of the field’s wells. 26 were found to have leaks. Tara is a Coal Bed Methane (CBM) gas field (it’s called Coal Seam Gas in Australia). … Australia is not the only country to suffer leaking wells. A Canadian study found more than 17600 oil and gas wells leaking nationwide. Watson and Bachu (Society of Petroleum Engineers SPE 106817 – 2009) surveyed 352,000 oil and gas wells and found 5% of wells had gas or oil outside the central borehole. (15% in the Alberta test area were leakers) In 1992 the US EPA estimated that of 1.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the US, 200,000 were leaking, a 16.7% failure rate. Little surprise that both Duke University and the US Environmental Protection Agency have correlated gas in water with proximity to fracking sites.
Gwyn Morgan, President and past CEO of Encana honoured by University of Alberta March 13, 2012, encana.com
[Refer also to: EnCana donates $7.5 Million to the University of Alberta
Breaking up is hard to do by Thomas Crosbie Media Ltd., March 11, 2012
Some, even in the scientific community, remain suspicious of the claims of fracking proponents. Tony Ingraffea is a professor of engineering at Cornell University. He has done significant research into the effects of fracking. Asked about the pro-fracking argument, that there is no proven case of the procedure causing contamination of drinking water, he half-suppresses a laugh. “They buy off the offended party, and there’s a gagging order — that’s what happens,” he says, not referring to any single company. “Is there an example, in the public domain, of a well being contaminated? No. But I am absolutely convinced that there are examples of it in lawyers’ files and in the files of the gas companies.”… Ernst argues that Ireland should “do a conservative socio-economic assessment of what Ireland stands to lose — in current jobs, industry, your infrastructure, your health. And even the water itself. What is the value of Ireland’s rivers and loughs? Often in these things, we look at the supposed short-term gains, but we don’t look at what we put at risk.” When asked what she would suggest as a course of action for Ireland on fracking, her message is simple: wait. “The best advice I can give to people in Ireland is that the wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Watch the mistakes happen everywhere else,” she says. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: Breaking up is hard to do
Jessica Ernst at Augustana Campus, University of Alberta Camrose March 8, 2012.
Local Fracking Talk Brings Revelations by Edward Durand, March 8, 2012, indymedia
Dr. John O’Connor and Jessica Ernst from Canada gave a series of talks on ‘The realities of hydraulic fracturing and associated health risks’ across Ireland….
Permalink to: Local Fracking Talk Brings Revelations
Labour federation says energy companies made millions exploiting government loophole by Karen Kleiss, Edmonton Journal, March 7, 2012
The Alberta Federation of Labour says energy companies exploited a loophole in the province’s drilling stimulus programs, forcing the province to spend about $2.9 billion, more than double the projected cost….“The governments’ own staff knew that certain energy companies were gaming the system,” McGowan said. “They presented that evidence to senior decision-makers within the government bureaucracy who have the ear of cabinet ministers. “They could have taken action. They didn’t.”…“The government is telling Albertans the cupboard is bare for public services, but it’s bare in large measure because of this irresponsible and out-of-control corporate giveaway.”
“The EPA can’t assess fracking in Leitrim” – Jessica Ernst by Leitrim Observer, March 6, 2012
“We were promised what happened in North America would not happen here – we have the best – world class regulators.” So what happened? According to Jessica the water got contaminated. But the Government says “It was just natural.” “It is not what you know you should be concerned about, it is what you don’t know” she warned…. More importantly Ms Ernst said we need to look at the importance of our national water supply. She said clean water is becoming an expensive resource. “What is it worth to you?” she asked.
Jessica Ernst packs hall at Ballroom of Romance by Press Officer Love Leitrim, March 6, 2012, mylocalnews
Local men in the doorway strained to hear the words of the speaker as if their lives depended on it. … She had learnt alot about promises, and knows now not to take the promises made by gas industry and regulators at face value. Rural people tend to be “gentle and trusting,” she said and they preyed on this. Many of these promises had an all too familiar ring to them in light of the proposed and controversial granting of licences to the gas industry in the area she held the podium…. The men at the door were straining as if there lives depended on it, because it did.
Permalink to: Jessica Ernst packs hall at Ballroom of Romance
Website for fracking fluid disclosure planned by Victoria Paterson, March 6, 2012, Mountainview Gazette
Alberta’s energy regulator is heading towards a searchable online database disclosing the contents of fracking fluid – eventually.
Cal Hill, the executive manager of the regulatory development branch of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), confirmed the intention to have a website during a technical briefing for media on Feb. 17. ERCB spokesperson Bob Curran said the website is a ways off from being up and running. “All he said was we’re moving towards that,” Curran said in an interview last Wednesday. The website could go live near the end of the year but that is not a firm deadline, Curran said. “It’s in its early stages,” Curran said. “They don’t know how it’s going to be structured.”
Curran said it has not been determined what information will be included on the website – such as the amounts of chemicals in the mixtures, how any potential concerns about proprietary information will be addressed or if only new wells will have their information go online.
It’s possible Alberta could partner with other fracturing fluid disclosure sites to deliver the database, Curran said. FracFocus.ca is a new site where B.C. enforces public fracking fluid chemical disclosure. It was launched at the beginning of January. … Currently in Alberta, information on fracking fluid contents is available to the public if they call the ERCB, officials have said. Companies do have to report the chemicals being used to the ERCB who will share the information. “We really have had almost virtually no requests,” Curran said.
Paul Michna, a spokesperson for Alberta Energy, said while ERCB will be facilitating the website, the government department is willing to help their efforts. “We stand ready to support that,” Michna said, adding that it might be in the form of legal support. “There is a general sense out there this is a concern,” he said of public interest and concerns about what chemicals are used in fracking.
Curran said ERCB regulations around wellbore integrity ensure there is no contact between the fracking fluids and groundwater, soil and so on.
“The rules are extraordinarily strict regarding the handling of those materials,” he said. “Provided the rules are followed … none of those products … should ever contact groundwater or the surface.”
Curran said there have been no documented cases of hydraulic fracturing wells affecting groundwater. He said there have been cases of fracking fluid reaching the surface and contacting the ground. An ERCB summary shows that the fluids expelled during the Jan. 13 well blowout near Glennifer Lake, about 25 kilometres west of Innisfail, contained fracturing fluid consisting of fracturing oil, sand and nitrogen. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: ERCB Lawyer to Ernst, April 24, 2012: However, the ERCB does not currently require licensees to provide detailed disclosure of the chemical composition of fracturing fluids.
"FracFocus is just a fig leaf for the industry to be able to say they’re doing something in terms of disclosure" Voluntary Fracking Reporting? Bloomberg: Chemicals Not Reported, Half of All Wells “Obscured”
Canadian Provinces Follow US States in Hydraulic Fracing Guidelines, Rules by Paula Dittrick, March 5, 2012, Oil and Gas Journal
The Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) already has various directives in place that cover industry operating practices as outlined by CAPP, said ERCB spokesman Bob Curran. ERCB has collected information on frac fluid ingredients from companies for decades, he said. Although currently not posted on a web site, the information is available to the public upon request. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: ERCB Lawyer to Ernst, April 24, 2012: However, the ERCB does not currently require licensees to provide detailed disclosure of the chemical composition of fracturing fluids]
Alberta aims to get public onside in fracking debate, Province will stress education, transparency by Trish Audette, Edmonton Journal, March 5, 2012
“Public education, community engagement, even media engagement are themes that seem to be growing around this to make sure that we’re not maybe repeating the same thing we saw in the oilsands, where everybody seemed to have their own sets of facts … causing confusion ultimately to the general public,” said Andy Ridge, the water policy director for Alberta Environment and Water….Ridge said transparency on hydraulic fracturing — from fracture fluids that can be unrecyclable and unreusable, to water testing and monitoring water use — demands Alberta Environment work in partnership with the independent board.…I think (in) Canada we’ve been a bit slow, in part because we have a good relationship with our industry [Emphasis added]
Court backs natives on sour gas pipeline by Bryce Forbes, Calgary Herald, March 3, 2012
“In our view, the board did not exercise discretion in a justifiable, transparent or intelligible way,” the court said in overruling the board.
Permalink to: Court backs natives on sour gas pipeline
The Assessment Review Board Reduces Methane Contaminated Property’s Taxation Value to Zero by John M. Bulman, Weirfoulds LLP, March 2, 2012
An insurance broker the property owner consulted could not obtain insurance on the house and property because of the methane. Unable to bear the costs of bringing the methane control system up to standard, the owners consulted a broker about selling the property, only to find that their real estate broker would not list the house for sale. In refusing the listing, the broker said that no one would be interested in buying the property because they would not be able to either insure or mortgage it because of the methane levels….The methane problem, it ruled, is more than a mere nuisance, posing a real hazard.
Minister should do more to protect groundwater by Nielle Hawkwood, March 12, 2012, Rockyview Weekly
I attended a meeting of Action for Agriculture at Balzac on March 2. At that meeting, I asked the Minister of Environment and Water why her government has not declared a moratorium on fracking in Alberta. In her response, she stated that fracking has been going on in Alberta for 60 years and that no moratorium is planned. … From Elnora to Rosebud to Nanton to the Blood Reserve, there are landowners no longer able to drink their water or water their stock after fracking has been done in their area. The minister has stated that our water and agricultural productivity are vital. Yesterday would not be soon enough for her government to walk the talk.
Permalink to: Alberta Minister should do more to protect groundwater
Driving Forward Public Acceptance For Hydraulic Fracturing In Canada By Building Trust Within Communities And Delivering Key Messages To Stakeholders Conference February 29 – March 1, 2012 in Calgary
Comparing tried and tested tools and techniques and how to leverage associations to help develop a powerful and credible public message; Understanding how to utilize media and press to counter outrage and help deliver positive messages to wider stakeholders.…Day 2 will examine the Government’s role in protecting the credibility of Canada’s oil and gas industry….
Fracking information meeting brings large crowd to the Clarion A Canadian ecologist Sligo Weekender, March 1, 2012
“I’ve been volunteering to warn people and Government research in Canada on how bad gas migration is into ground water and I’m an ordinary citizen. “I don’t get paid for this, this is not my job, this is the job of our Government. We pay our Government to protect the people and our environment and the future for our children, but I’m finding with the unconventional gas development everywhere, the Government and the regulator are protecting the polluters. “And the big message I have in my experience is when you are fracked there’s no after care. You’re completely abandoned. [Emphasis added]
Literature Review of Regional Groundwater Monitoring Systems by Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC), March 2012.
CAPP and its member companies are committed to protecting fresh groundwater sources. As part of this commitment, CAPP member companies support the recently-released “Baseline Groundwater Monitoring Practice” for shale gas development. Under this practice, companies will participate with local Governments in establishing, where appropriate, science-based regional groundwater monitoring programs. These programs will establish baseline characteristics of the groundwater pre-development, and analyze whether changes occur over time.
Jessica Ernst at the Teachers Club in Dublin Republic of Ireland February 25, 2012
Energy board opens up about chemicals used in fracking process by Trish Audette, Edmonton Journal, February 24, 2012
Currently, companies who inject mixes of water, sand, friction reducers and other chemicals into well sites as part of the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process of breaking up rock to free gas and oil have to report those chemicals to Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board. But the board, while keeping the data on-hand, does not have to make it public. … “Regulators (have been) a little behind the curve on the shift to unconventional gas, and the public concerns that have accompanied that, whether it’s concerns about water contamination, concerns about fracking more generally.”
Jessica Ernst at Glenfarne Republic of Ireland, Ballroom of Romance February 24, 2012
Alberta Plays Catch-up on Frack Front by Andrew Nikiforuk, February 23, 2012, TheTyee.ca
Regulator acknowledges water risks, says hydraulic fluids disclosure will be required. … Cal Hill, executive manager of the Regulatory Development Branch of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) said his agency is now actively investigating four (the ERCB later corrected that figure to five) well blow-outs caused by horizontal multi-stage hydraulic fracking…. The Alberta regulator did not announce an investigation until a January 2011 fracturing incident made global headlines. That remarkable event sent oil and fluid spurting out of an existing well 1.2 km away from the oil shale well being fractured near Innisfail, Alberta…. Methane is buoyant and looking for a way up to the surface, explained Hill “There is an expectation you are going to find some signal in groundwater,” he added. … “We are working for full fluid disclosure,” said Hill…. Moreover, Hill admitted that he knew of no toxic fluids “that are prohibited” in the province. … “Nothing specific” has been set aside for additional monitoring admitted Hill. Asked if the ERCB would implement recommendations proposed by noted researcher Karlis Muehlenbachs on hydraulic fracturing, Hill remained non-committal. … Muehlenbachs, a global expert on gas leaks from wellbores, recently recommended at a Washington, D.C. conference that regulators do rigorous gas and water testing prior to fracturing formations. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: Alberta Plays Catch-up on Frack Front
Public fears repercussions of fracking by Barbara Duckworth, February 23, 2012, The Western Producer
“If the construction of the well is done properly, and there is a lot of experience in the industry doing this, then the only possibility for the contamination will be actually if the fracture grows vertically and reaches the ground water,” he said.
Permalink to: Public fears repercussions of fracking
National Farmer’s Union Demands Moratorium on frac’ing Press Release (Rimbey, Alberta, February 23, 2012)
“We are in the heart of Alberta’s oil and gas country where our ability to produce good, wholesome food is at risk of being compromised by the widespread, virtually unregulated use of this dangerous process.” … “Not many of these stories get made public because the oil and gas companies usually force farmers to sign confidentiality agreements in return for replacement of their water wells” said Slomp. … “Farmers across Canada largely depend on ground water aquifers for both domestic use and livestock production. The quality of ground water is critical to raising high quality food. Unfortunately in the experience of too many Alberta farmers and ranchers hydraulic fracturing has been associated with water well contamination and damage. … “The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers have really acknowledged there are problems with fracking by releasing several useful suggestions for guidelines to prevent further problems.
Permalink to: National Farmer’s Union Demands Moratorium on frac’ing
Moratorium sought until safety proven The Western Producer, February 23, 2012
“We trusted when we never should have trusted.”…the technique alarms rancher Nielle Hawkwood, who lives in the district. “It is entirely different from the kind of fracking that has been going on in the province for 50 years. It is much more intensive, much more high energy and it is really heavy industry,” she said.…“It puts all these chemicals under the substructure, under our land.”
Permalink to: Moratorium sought until safety proven
Jessica Ernst at Carrick on Shannon Republic of Ireland February 23, 2012
Interview between the presentation and questions and answers:
RTÉ (Ireland) Prime Time on Frac’ing: Katie Hannon reports on fracking and the battle for hearts and minds over one of the most contentious subjects at the moment. 15:47 min. February 23, 2012
More Public Disclosure for Fracking by Bill Kaufmann, February 22, 2012, Calgary Sun
During a press briefing meant to minimize growing public concerns about the fracking of oil and gas, Cal Hill of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) said Alberta will likely demand producers notify the public about fracking activities — and the kinds of chemicals they use — by year’s end….But Hill said that, despite anecdotal evidence of ranchers’ tap water igniting following nearby fracking, the jury’s still out on the cause of that phenomenon, adding it could be caused by naturally-present methane. And he said the main threat to water sources are poorly-cemented well bores that can occur in any form of drilling. “There’s no reason to believe there’s any risk to useable water if casing requirements are met,” said Hill, adding casing integrity hasn’t been a problem in Alberta….But Bill Donahue of the environmental group Water Matters said the ERCB’s own numbers show thousands of wells have leaked — a quarter of them from improper casings. “To suggest casing problems are not a problem is just factually incorrect,” said Donohue….“They’re trying to play catch-up and tell people they’re safe rather than identifying the problems,” said Donohue.
Permalink to: More Public Disclosure for Fracking
Jessica Ernst at Belcoo Northern Ireland February 21, 2012
Permalink to: 2012 02 21 Jessica Ernst at Belcoo Northern Ireland
Warning issued over fracking by Charlie Taylor, February 20, 2012, Irish Times
“Communities need to look at what they stand to lose rather than at what companies are promising,” she said. Ms Ernst highlighted her own experienced of being ‘fracked,’ saying that as a result of water pollution, she had been unable to take showers due to her skin burning. She now also has to trek over an hour away to access clean water.
Permalink to: Warning issued over fracking
Backgrounder: Shale gas and fracking by Roberto Aguilera, Maurice B. Dusseault, John Molson, David Layzell, John Clague and additional anonymous scientist, February 16, 2012, Science Media Centre of Canada
Depending on the geology of the area, methane can naturally occur in groundwater. Methane is a colourless, odourless gas that is considered non-toxic when ingested, however it can cause suffocation at high concentrations in enclosed spaces and is highly combustible at certain concentrations. One way to determine whether increased levels of groundwater methane is due to fracking activity is through isotopic signatures. … Gas mixture composition also provides clues as to the origin of the dissolved methane. Naturally occurring methane in groundwater typically doesn’t contain other gases like ethane and propane that are found in shale gas, so the presence of these gases is another clue that fracking may be the cause. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: Backgrounder: Shale gas and fracking
Encana sues top tribal judge to fend off Wyoming worker death suit by Jeremy Fugleberg, February 11, 2012, Star-Tribune
Now Encana, facing a wrongful death suit in Shoshone and Arapaho Tribal Court, is suing the court’s chief judge in federal court claiming Jorgenson worked and died outside tribal boundaries and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the tribes. … Now the judge has set a date for a jury trial in the case, brought by Jorgenson’s estate, and Encana is crying foul…. Eastern Shoshone Business Councilman Orville St. Clair said he was shocked to see the lawsuit. He said the plaintiffs are “bad actors” who agreed by contract to submit themselves to tribal jurisdiction and are now trying to break those promises to the tribes. [Emphasis added]
New fracking practices reach for ‘low hanging fruit’ by Victoria Paterson, February 7, 2012, Mountainview Gazette
Nationwide operating practices for shale hydraulic fracking operations introduced by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) for its members on Jan. 30 failed to impress the Alberta NDP’s environment critic. MLA Rachel Notley (Edmonton-Strathcona) said many of the new requirements that CAPP has set out for its member producers, like the disclosure of additives to fracking fluid, were already in place in Alberta. “The key thing here is this is another example of industry self-policing,” Notley said, calling it “absolutely the wrong model.” “They’re not reinventing the wheel,” she said, adding that it’s “a ridiculous way” for industry to “pretend” they are addressing safety and environmental concerns.
The issue of fracking fluid additive disclosure was “low-hanging fruit” for CAPP, she said.
Notley continues to call for an independent scientific study of hydraulic fracking. She first issued the call for a study after a well blowout near Glennifer Lake, about 25 kilometres west of Innisfail, occurred on Jan. 13. The blowout occurred after a hydraulic fracturing operation interacted with another nearby well, though the incident is still being investigated by the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB).
Referencing groundwater testing, which was another new CAPP requirement, Notley said groundwater is not well-mapped in Alberta and neither are abandoned or partially abandoned wells. She said this makes it difficult to determine if a hydraulic frac operation is going to interact with either old wells or water. Notley said efforts should be made to better map groundwater and old wells and “not by an industry that stands to make a whole bunch of money.”
The six new operating practices for CAPP operators of shale hydraulic fracs were announced on Jan. 30 by Dave Collyer, president of CAPP. CAPP says it represents companies that produce more than 90 per cent of Canadian natural gas and crude oil. Travis Davies, a spokesperson for CAPP, said the new standards of practice that were released on Jan. 30 are the “meat on the bones” of hydraulic fracturing operating guidelines that CAPP set out in fall 2011. “It’s less about communication and more about demonstrating what we’re doing on the ground,” Davies said of the new operating practices. The six new guidelines for CAPP members include practices for disclosure of fracturing fluid additives; fracturing fluid risk assessment and management; baseline groundwater testing; wellbore construction and quality assurance; water sourcing, measurement and reuse; and fluid transport, handling, storage and disposal. Much of the information is meant to be available to the public. Davies suggested third party groups and company websites could be a resource to release the information to interested persons. Davies said it’s believed that regulatory bodies will eventually be moving in the direction of requiring similar practices to the ones CAPP has come up with for its members. “A lot of companies do this work already,” Davies said. Adding steps like testing and monitoring groundwater could add costs for operators but representatives from member companies helped develop the requirements, Davies said. “It’s the cost of doing business,” he said. “Public perception and how we treat safety” were two of the reasons Davies listed for having the new practices.
Bob McManus, a spokesperson for Energy Alberta, noted some of CAPP’s new nationwide practices are “already in place in Alberta” or at least encouraged. He pointed out that fracking fluid disclosure must be made to the ERCB and the public can ask for the information. “If someone wanted to know they can ask the ERCB,” he said. Bob Curran, a spokesperson from the ERCB, agreed that while there isn’t a publicly accessible database, people could request the information from the ERCB and it would be provided. “We’ve never really had any requests for that information,” Curran said.
Other CAPP protocols that do not fall within the jurisdiction of the ERCB, like groundwater testing, come under Alberta Environment, he said. However, Alberta Environment said there was no groundwater testing requirement in place at hydraulic frac operations on the provincial level. “Generally speaking we’re supportive of the CAPP strategy,” said Carrie Sancartier, a spokesperson for Albeta Environment. She said Alberta Environment monitors the groundwater of 250 wells across the province for quality and quantity and that information is available online. As for groundwater mapping, she said a project was undertaken to map the Calgary-Edmonton corridor and another one is starting for an area near Edmonton. “The goal is to eventually map the whole province,” Sancartier said. [Emphasis added]
Source: Letter from ERCB Lawyer to Ernst in response to repeat requests by Ernst for chemical disclosure of fracturing fluids injected by EnCana into Rosebud drinking water aquifers and in approximately 200 gas wells fractured above the Base of Groundwater Protection around Rosebud.
Permalink to: New fracking practices reach for ‘low hanging fruit’
LISTEN: It’s not fracking’s fault by Radio Netherlands Worldwide, February 3, 2012
David Pryce, the vice-president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, tells Marnie that the practice of fracking is safe, and that the water going bad has to do with the drilling, or other things, and not the chemicals or gas involved in the process. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: LISTEN: It’s not fracking’s fault
LISTEN: Fracking: between a rock and a hard place by Radio Netherlands Worldwide, February 3, 2012
Jessica Ernst lives near a fracking operation. She used to work as an environmental consultant for Encana, the gas company that’s doing the fracking, and she tells host Marnie Chesterton the story of how her life, water, and land has changed since fracking began. … (The ERCB, Alberta’s energy resource regulator wouldn’t comment on Jessica’s case…)
Permalink to: LISTEN: Fracking: between a rock and a hard place
CAPP’s new guidelines for Canadian shale gas producers: A review of key requirements by Paula Barrios, Senior Research Analyst, February 2012, Shareholder Association for Research & Education
Another potential difficulty with the CAPP Operating Practice is that it relies significantly on regulatory compliance, on the assumption that “hydraulic fracturing processes are strictly regulated by various provincial government agencies.” This assumption may be unfounded, however, and several recent reports suggest that regulatory gaps still exist in virtually every Canadian Province…. CAPP’s release of Hydraulic Fracturing Guiding Principles and Operating Practices marks a positive development in Canada’s shale gas industry, since it evidences a commitment by CAPP member companies to implement practices that mitigate environmental and other potential risks associated with shale gas production, and to publicly report on their risk mitigation efforts. It is not evident, however, that implementation of most Practices will lead to actual improvements in performance, or generate the detailed disclosure of performance data that investors and other stakeholders need to assess whether companies are effectively mitigating risk across their unconventional gas operations, or implementing best practices in all key plays (or otherwise explain why different practices are followed in certain locations). Some of the Operating Practices, in particular those associated with pre-drilling water testing and wellbore construction and integrity verification, promise to help mitigate environmental risks associated with unconventional gas extraction, provided that companies implement them consistently across their shale and tight gas operations.
Other Practices, however, in particular those regarding water use, management of risks associated with fracturing fluids and management of wastewater (flowback and produced water), are not stringent or specific enough to reassure investors that their implementation will actually serve to mitigate risk, or bring about public disclosure of relevant, comparable and comprehensive information with which to measure performance and benchmark companies in order to make more sound investment decisions (e.g., invest in lower-risk companies, or engage with companies whose performance or risk management strategies and practices appear to be lagging behind their peers).
Jessica Ernst discusses fracked life at fundraiser by Angela Saleva, Tatamagouche Light
Permalink to: Jessica Ernst discusses fracked life at fundraiser
CAPP announces new fracking guidelines to boost environmental performance by The Canadian Press, January 30, 2012
CAPP’s operating practices include:
— Publicly disclosing chemical ingredients used in fracking fluid.
— Better identifying and managing the risks….
— Developing domestic water-well sampling programs and participating in regional groundwater monitoring programs.
— Designing and installing wellbores in a manner that maintains integrity before fracking begins.
— Ensuring water withdrawal limits are not exceeded, monitoring water sources and collecting and reporting water use data.
— Identifying, evaluating and mitigating potential risks of transporting, handing, storing and disposing of fluids used in fracking.
The operating practices follow a set of “guiding principles” CAPP released in September, and are meant to “inform and complement” regulatory requirements. [Emphasis added]
Jessica Ernst at St Peter’s Abbey Muenster Saskatchewan January 28, 2012
Communication uncertainty plagues fracturing debate by Stephen Ewart, January 25, 2012, Calgary Herald
The ERCB is reviewing its regulations for all unconventional resources but has no time frame for its completion. As spokeswoman Cara Tobin said in an e-mail, the review is “a complex undertaking and the implications on Alberta’s regulatory system are significant…the ERCB will continue to take a measured approach to the study.” [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: Communication uncertainty plagues fracturing debate
Fracking a lesser-known, but significant environmental insurance risk by CanadianUnderwriter.ca January 24, 2011
“There is much debate and concern surrounding fracking due to the chemicals utilized-for example acids to dissolve minerals and create cracks and surfactants to make fluids more slippery-and the massive amounts of wastewater generated,” Anthony Wagar writes for WillisWire. “Not to mention the fear of radioactive materials and other contaminants potentially finding their way into water supplies.”
Well Design and Well Integrity by Runar Nygaard, January 4, 2012, Energy and Environmental Systems Group, University of Calgary
Several recent studies have investigated the integrity of wells around the world. They have identified that out of 316,000 wells analyzed in Alberta—4.6% have leaks. Gas migration occurred in 0.6% of the wells and surface casing vent flow (SCVF) in 3.9% (Watson and Bachu, 2007). In a subset of 20,500 wells, 15% leaked with drilled and abandoned wells making up 0.5% and cased wells 14.5%. … In the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, between 13 and 19% of the production wells experienced leakage, while 37 to 41% of the injectors experienced leakage (Randhol and Carlsen, 2008; NPA, 2008). Further, estimates from the Gulf of Mexico indicate that a significant portion of wells have sustained casing pressure, which is believed to be caused by gas flow through cement matrix (Crow, 2006). In a study of the K-12B gas field in the Dutch sector of the North Sea where CO2 is injected, 5% of tubulars where degraded because of pitting corrosion (Mulders, 2006). The main observation from these studies is that cased wells as more prone to leakage than drilled and abandoned wells, and injection wells are more prone to leakage than producing wells.
Cementing can be divided into two broad categories, primary and remedial. Primary cementing is used during regular drilling operations to support the casing and stop fluid movement outside the casing (zonal isolation). Cement also protects the casing from corrosion and loads in deeper zones, prevents blow outs and seals off thief and lost circulation zones. … The well construction process only allows one chance to design and install a primary cementing system. … During the drilling phase of a well, the cement sheath must withstand the continuous impact of the drill string, particularly with directional wells. During well completion when the drilling fluid is replaced by a relatively lightweight completion fluid, the negative pressure differential can cause de-bonding at the casing cement and/or cement formation interfaces. The cement sheath must withstand the stresses caused by the perforating operation and resist cracking from the extreme pressure created by the hydraulic fracturing operation.
It is important to run the casing at a speed that will not fracture the formation. After the casing is in place, common cement failures occur in one of two ways: poor primary cementing or cement failure after setting. Poor primary cementing occurs because a thick mud filter cake lines the hole and prevents good formation bonding. Proper displacement techniques, such as pre-flush, spacers and cement plugs, may not be sufficient because the conventional cement is not the best displacement fluid. Secondly, gas can invade the cement while it sets. During gelling and prior to complete hydration, conventional cement slurry actually loses its ability to transmit hydrostatic pressure to the formation and fluids from the formation migrate freely into the cement. This forms channels that can create future gas leaks. Cement failure after setting occur from mechanical shock from pipe tripping, expansion of the casing and compression of the cement during pressure testing, or expansion and contraction of the pipe due to cycles in injection pressure and temperature.
ABANDONMENT OF WELLS … For a well that has production casing, the abandonment procedure is more customized. All nonsaline water sources have to be protected and hydraulic isolation must exist between porous zones. This rigorous requirement has been in place since 2003. There are five different options to abandon cased wells using plugs, packers or cement plugs. The three main types are 1) bridge plug set above the perforations with cement over top the plug, 2) squeeze cement in the perforations, and 3) cement plug across perforations. All methods have one common requirement, and that is to have at least 8 m of cement inside the casing that has been pressure tested to 7000 kPa. At the surface, casing strings are cut 1 to 2 m below the surface and a steel plate is welded to prevent access to the casing strings. This is done after the well is tested for gas migration and surface casing vent flow. Squeezing cement into openings in casing as remedial cement is often not successful because of the cement’s high viscosity. Metal alloy that expand (~ 1%) upon solidification has recently been suggested for remediate cementing and cement plugs (Canitron, 2008). The alloy is placed in the wellbore and a heating tool melts it. The alloy flows to fit the openings of the casing and the volume inside the casing. The expansion helps to avoid micro-fissures that cement can experience because of its shrinkage. Alloy is also claimed to not go through a weak transitional phase during solidification like cement does, and it bonds stronger against clean steel than pure Portland cement. Molten alloy has low surface tension and viscosity and is claimed to fill small fissures and perforations efficiently (Figure 13). … Removing the casing in certain areas is another method to mitigate leakage caused by poor bond or de-bonding between casing and cement. If wells are plugged and abandoned permanently, both Gray et al, 2007 and Carlsen and Abdollahi, 2007 (Figure 9) suggest the casing steel be removed before installing the final cement plugs. This will remove the most-likely leakage path along the casing. …
Produced sections with perforations and stimulation through hydraulic fracturing and/or acidizing creates fractures that may have caused increased permeability of the cement sheath. Further bridge plugs with capped cement has shown to be prone to leakage inside the casing.
Permalink to: Well Design and Well Integrity
Encana addresses claims made by Jessica Ernst January 2012 by EnCana
We have partnered with various communities and organizations in rural Alberta on a range of projects including libraries, soccer fields, arenas, theaters and the arts, and local sports teams.
Permalink to: Encana addresses claims made by Jessica Ernst
Fracking fears spur review of oilpatch regulations: Provinces commited to registry to disclose use of chemicals by Rebecca Penty, December 30, 2011, Calgary Herald
The New West Partnership, Alberta’s economic relationship with Saskatchewan and British Columbia that includes the streamlining of unconventional gas development rules…. Among other ideas, Morton favours mandating baseline testing of aquifers and water wells before development, so there is transparency if questions about contamination arise. Morton noted the lack of baseline water testing in a fracking dispute in Wyoming is contributing to public uncertainty…
Canada’s Fracking Struggles by Nicholas Kusnetz, December 28, 2011, Huffingtonpost.com
Permalink to: Canada’s Fracking Struggles
A Tough 2011 for Encana by Aimee Duffy, December 27, 2011, The Motley Fool, Daily Finance
Encana was forced to finish out the year defending itself against an Environmental Protection Agency report linking hydraulic fracturing to ground water pollution in Wyoming, specifically in a region where Encana fracked many wells.
Permalink to: A Tough 2011 for Encana
ERCB sanctions Legacy Petroleum Order issued nearly 15 years after offences took place by Dan Healing, December 21, 2011, Calgary Herald
Natural gas giant to submit own findings to U.S. environmental agency by Dina O’Meara, December 20, 2011, Calgary Herald
Nature, not hydraulic fracturing, is to blame for smelly water in Pavilion, Wyoming, said Encana Corp. on Tuesday.…On Tuesday afternoon the Washington, D.C. based environmental agency defended its findings, reiterating the chemicals found were common to hydraulic fracturing, were not naturally occurring, and had been used in the Pavillion field. The EPA also disputed the two monitoring wells drilled in October 2010 and April 2011 had contaminated the aquifer, saying chemicals detected in the tests were not used in well construction.
Fracking Contamination ‘Will Get Worse’: Alberta Expert by Andrew Nikiforuk, December 19, 2011, TheTyee.ca
Earlier this month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that EnCana, the continent’s second largest shale gas producer, had contaminated groundwater in Pavillion, Wyoming. Those findings, which contradict industry assurances, didn’t surprise Muehlenbachs, who has studied leaking wells in Alberta’s heavy oil fields for decades.… “The way I read the EPA report, the surface casings were too short and that the cementing was inadequate and then they fracked at very shallow depths. It’s almost negligence,” says 67-year-old Muehlenbachs…. “They’ll frack each well up to 20 times. Each time the pressure will shudder and bang the pipes in the wellbore. The cement is hard and the steel is soft. If you do it all the time you are going to break bonds and cause leaks. It’s a real major issue.”… Whenever methane leaks from one well into a neighboring wellsite, “industry says let’s fix the leaks,” says Muehlenbachs. “But as soon as the leaks enter groundwater, everyone abandons the same logic and technology and says it can’t happen and the denials come out. In Alberta, it’s almost a religious belief that gas leaks can’t contaminate groundwater.”… Asked if Alberta’s oil patch regulator or B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission had approached one of the world’s leading experts on how to fingerprint leaking gases from gas formations, Muehlenbachs replied quickly. “No,” said Muehlenbachs. “No one pays any attention to me. The Alberta regulators are only interested in optimizing production.” [Emphasis added]
What Wyoming can teach us about water quality by David Swann, December 18, 2011, Calgary Herald
The Environmental Protection Agency’s three year investigation into water quality problems in Wyoming created a stir in Alberta recently. Some industry people and journalists have dismissed the findings, but the conclusions are very credible and disturbing, according to water geo-chemistry expert Karlis Muehlenbachs at the University of Alberta.
Permalink to: What Wyoming can teach us about water quality
Fresh fracking furore by Donwald Pressly, December 14 2011, IOL Business Report
Jonathan Deal of the Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG), said the finding – after a three-year study – that fracking was the likely source of contamination of groundwater near the town of Pavillion in Wyoming – should send “shock waves” through the oil and gas industry [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: Fresh fracking furore
Poisoning link threatens future of fracking, US study casts doubt on controversial shale gas extraction process by Tom Bawden, December 14, 2011, The Independent
A study by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) into hydraulic fracturing reported finding a host of chemicals in the groundwater around shale gas wells in Wyoming state. These included petroleum hydrocarbons such as benzene, and tert-butyl alcohol…
Ewart: EPA fracking report raises sticky issues by Stephen Ewart, December 14, 2011, Calgary Herald
When Encana responded with a multi-point rebuttal that “strongly” disagreed with the EPA report – it stopped just short of calling the agency incompetent… If the EPA’s draft findings prove accurate, it will be a critical point in the fracking debate; the implications going well beyond rural Wyoming. If things can go wrong for Encana, the second biggest gas producer in North America, then what about all those companies that do not have “platinum” status for their environmental stewardship from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, as Encana did when CAPP assigned levels to its stewardship program, or an industry group in the United States?… Encana is learning the implications of that scenario the hard way.
Permalink to: Ewart: EPA fracking report raises sticky issues
Hydrofracking sure to contaminate water by Paul Hetzler, environmental engineering technician with NYSDEC, December 13, 2011, Watertown Daily Times
There’s no such thing as a perfect well seal. Occasionally sooner, often later, well seals can and do fail, period. No confining layer is completely competent; all geologic strata leak to some extent. The fact that a less-transmissive layer lies between the drill zone and a well does not protect the well from contamination. A drinking water well is never in “solid” rock. If it were, it would be a dry hole in the ground. As water moves through joints, fissures and bedding planes into a well, so do contaminants. In fractured media such as shale, water follows preferential pathways, moving fast and far, miles per week in some cases.… Chemicals injected into the aquifer will persist for many lifetimes. When contamination occurs—and it will occur— we will all pay for it, regardless of where we live.
Alberta woman tells tale of fracking woes by Shannon MacLeod, December 12, 2011. Times and Transcript
“I believe this is so important that if a community asks for help, I go to give help and information. It’s to brainstorm and gather information that the communities need.”…The Canadian Council of Minister[s] of the Environment held an important workshop in 2002 and they came out with a report, said Ernst. “They wrote that unconventional drilling poses a real threat to quantity and quality (of water) and that we need baseline hydro-geological investigations to track contaminants.”…”Still to this day, we can not find out what chemicals were injected. I do not know what I was bathing in. I do not know what I was ingesting. Or breathing, venting out of my taps.”…”I say to you, say no to the poison apple. This is how they divide and conquer communities in my view. They did a really good job with this.” The Rosebud water tower blew up in an explosion on Jan. 11, 2005, said Ernst. “There was an investigation. I just found out about this recently, (the cause was) an accumulation of gases and sent a worker with serious injuries to hospital.”
Permalink to: Alberta woman tells tale of fracking woes
Encana slams EPA water contamination report by Nathan Vanderklippe and Carrie Tait, December 12, 2011, The Globe and Mail
Encana said Monday it “strongly disagrees” with the EPA findings, accusing the agency of basing its conclusions on “conjecture” that “only serve to trigger undue alarm.”
Permalink to: Encana slams EPA water contamination report
Fracking: a modern method to extract oil and gas – may be contaminating drinking supplies in Wyoming by Timothy Gardner, December 11, 2011, Christian Science Monitor
The EPA said Wyoming was much more vulnerable than other areas to water contamination from fracking chemicals because drilling there often takes place much closer to the surface than in other states.
Jessica Ernst at Memramcook with Florian Levesque New Brunswick December 10, 2011
US Study Casts Pall over BC’s Shale Gas Biz: Despite industry safety assurances, EPA finds hydraulic fracturing fluids in drinking water by Andrew Nikiforuk, December 9, 2011, TheTyee.ca
After finding elevated levels of methane and diesel fuel in domestic Pavillion water wells in 2010, the EPA installed two deep groundwater monitoring wells to determine if the contamination was coming from deep or shallow sources. The EPA’s 121-page report found evidence of both. High levels of benzene, xylenes and gasoline and diesel compounds were detected in groundwater from shallow monitoring wells near industry pits for disposing of drilling and fracking fluids. In the deep groundwater monitoring wells the EPA discovered a brew of toxic chemicals commonly used in hydraulic fracturing. The contaminants included benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, and xylenes (BTEX), diesel oil, which is used to make a liquid gel, heavy aromatic petroleum naptha, a solvent, and tri-ethylene glycol, another solvent. “When considered together with other lines of evidence, the data indicates likely impact to ground water that can be explained by hydraulic fracturing,” said the EPA report. Furthermore there didn’t appear to be solid rock barriers “to stop upward vertical migration of aqueous constituents of hydraulic fracturing in the event of excursion from fractures.”
The EPA also detected methane in both monitoring wells and local domestic water wells that came directly from the gas zone being fractured by EnCana. … Earlier this year Alberta’s energy regulator, the Energy Resources and Conservation Board, admitted that hydraulic fracturing could contaminate “useable water aquifers” with toxic chemicals in shallow zones and “is a recognized risk that must be managed because the fracturing operation is nearer the base of groundwater.” [Emphasis added]
How the EPA linked “fracking” to contaminated well water by Scott K. Johnson, December 9, 2011, Ars technica
More importantly, several synthetic and unusual compounds were detected, including 2-butoxyethanol, isopropanol, and a few glycols—all of which are known to be used in fracking fluids. Another compound, tert-butyl alcohol (TBA), is a breakdown component of a couple different potential fracking components, including the gasoline additive MTBE.… More surprises come in the analysis of the cement seals around gas well casings. The EPA obtained records of cement seal integrity logs that were made using an acoustic geophysical tool that was lowered down some of the wells. … The logs showed that intervals of “sporadic bonding” were common, including some directly above the elevations where fracking had taken place. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: How the EPA linked “fracking” to contaminated well water
WATCH: NB Newsmaker December 9, 2011, CBC News
Rachel Cave talks with Jessica [Ernst] about [how] the natural gas industry damaged her quality of life
Permalink to: WATCH: New Brunswick Newsmaker
Scientist in N.B. to tell hydro-fracking story December 9, 2011, CBC News
“If they cannot get EnCana to heed the regulations and the laws in place to protect ground water in Alberta, you’re not going to have a chance of getting the companies to do that here,” Ernst said.
Permalink to: Scientist in New Brunswick to tell hydro-fracking story
LISTEN: Fractured Future December 9, 2011 (posted December 12), CBC News
Alberta Woman Says Water Contaminated by Fracking
Permalink to: LISTEN: Fractured Future
Jessica Ernst at Upham New Brunswick December 9, 2011
EPA Releases Draft Findings of Pavillion, Wyoming Ground Water Investigation for Public Comment and Independent Scientific Review December 8, 2011, EPA
EPA’s analysis of samples taken from the Agency’s deep monitoring wells in the aquifer indicates detection of synthetic chemicals, like glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids, benzene concentrations well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards and high methane levels….In the fall of 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reviewed EPA’s data and recommended that affected well owners take several precautionary steps, including using alternate sources of water for drinking and cooking, and ventilation when showering. Those recommendations remain in place and Encana has been funding the provision of alternate water supplies. [Emphasis added]
EPA says fracking likely polluted Wyoming aquifer by Timothy Gardner, December 8, 2011, Reuters
The agency said “the best explanation” for the pollution was that fluids from underground hydraulic fracturing migrated up from fracking operations and contaminated the aquifer. “The presence of these compounds is consistent with migration from areas of gas production,” it said. EnCana Corp of Canada, which owns the natural gas field in Pavillion, Wyoming, slammed the report. “The synthetic chemicals could just as easily have come from contamination when the EPA did their sampling, or from how they constructed their monitoring wells,” said Doug Hock, a company spokesman. The EPA said Wyoming was much more vulnerable than other areas to water contamination from fracking chemicals because drilling there often takes place much closer to the surface than in other states. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: EPA says fracking likely polluted Wyoming aquifer
Encana denies polluting Wyoming aquifer by Edward McAllister, December 8, 2011, Reuters
Permalink to: Encana denies polluting Wyoming aquifer
Fracking likely linked to groundwater pollution in U.S. December 8, 2011. CBC News
Permalink to: Fracking likely linked to groundwater pollution in U.S.
Feds Link Water Contamination to Fracking by Abrahm Lustgarten and Nick Kusnetz, December 8, 2011, ProPublica
In the 121-page draft report released today, EPA officials said that the contamination near the town of Pavillion, Wyo., had most likely seeped up from gas wells and contained at least 10 compounds known to be used in frack fluids. “The presence of synthetic compounds such as glycol ethers … and the assortment of other organic components is explained as the result of direct mixing of hydraulic fracturing fluids with ground water in the Pavillion gas field,” the draft report states. “Alternative explanations were carefully considered.”…A spokesman for EnCana, the gas company that owns the Pavillion wells, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an email exchange after the EPA released preliminary water test data two weeks ago, the spokesman, Doug Hock, denied that the company’s actions were to blame for the pollution and suggested it was naturally caused.… EnCana declined to give federal officials a detailed breakdown of every compound used underground. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: Feds Link Water Contamination to Fracking
Encana on defensive over groundwater fouled by fracking by Nathan Vanderklippe, December 8, 2011, The Globe and Mail
Other types of synthetic organic compounds, like tert-butyl alcohol – which is not expected to be found naturally in groundwater – were also discovered. Sampling showed the elevated presence of gasoline, diesel, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Some of those substances matched with materials used in oil and gas work…. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: Encana on defensive over groundwater fouled by fracking
EPA Pavillion report stokes fire over fracking by Dustin Bleizeffer, December 8, 2011, Wyofile Energy Report
Yet the reason EPA is investigating polluted water in Pavillion is because area residents said they asked the same question of EnCana about its wells, and they were stonewalled. They complained they got pretty much the same treatment when they went to the state of Wyoming for help. Several Pavillion area residents had claimed their drinking water wells went foul almost overnight when EnCana Oil & Gas began drilling and re-tooling gas wells in close proximity to their homes. After convincing EPA to lead an investigation, and a subsequent toxicology review of the drinking water, residents in the area were told to avoid drinking the water and to use ventilation when showering. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: EPA Pavillion report stokes fire over fracking
Jessica Ernst at Tatamagouche Nova Scotia December 8, 2011
Permalink to: 2011 12 08 Jessica Ernst at Tatamagouche Nova Scotia
Jessica Ernst at Lake Ainslie, Cape Breton Nova Scotia December 4, 2011
Fracking safety concerns a festering issue by Stephen Ewart, December 3, 2011, Calgary Herald
In response to a question Wednesday, Alberta Environment and Water Minister Diana McQueen said her staff were engaged in policy discussions with other government departments “before we move heavily into fracking.”…Is the province getting ahead of the issue or not? Is it developing a “comprehensive plan” to regulate fracking as McQueen contends, or adhering to Morton’s assertion that under existing policies “there’s not one documented instance of where the fracking itself led to contamination?” I suspect it’s likely to be mostly the latter, dressed up to look like the former. And it’s unlikely to satisfy Mike Bruised Head, who lives on the Blood Tribe reserve near Standoff. Living close to several oil and gas wells had Bruised Head concerned about drinking water drawn from his well. He told the Herald’s Jen Gerson a few months back testing found traces of benzene and vinyl chloride, compounds linked to fracking. “These are not natural elements. These have been put in the ground manually,” he said. “I can never serve my water to my three little grandchildren.”…Encana, the Calgary based gas producer at the forefront of the fracking boom, has stopped using diesel fuel, which includes carcinogens, and another chemical compound in response to stakeholder concerns. … Premier Alison Redford…might be best served to properly fund all the provincial regulators so they can enforce rules already in place and severely punish companies that don’t adhere to standards that Albertans have a right to expect. [Emphasis added]
Permalink to: Fracking safety concerns a festering issue
LISTEN: Jessica Ernst & Jennifer West on CKDU’s Habitat 88.1 FM, December 2, 2011
Erica Butler interviewed Rose[bud], AB resident Jessica Ernst and the Ecology Action Centre’s Jennifer West on her program Habitat regarding fracking and shale gas development in Nova Scotia.
Permalink to: LISTEN: Jessica Ernst & Jennifer West on CKDU’s Habitat
Oh, Canada’s Become a Home for Record Fracking by Nicholas Kusnetz, December 28, 2011, ProPublica
The government’s report concluded that the methane in her well might be occurring naturally because tests showed similar levels of gas in nearby wells. But the tests were conducted after Ernst noticed the changes in her water — she saw the results as an indication that the contamination might be more widespread. The government’s report also ignored evidence provided by one of its own analysts…. When Karlis Muehlenbachs analyzed the gas in Ernst’s well for Alberta Environment and Water, he found ethane, a gas often found with methane, with a chemical signature indicating that it had come from deep underground, below the depth of the well. Muehlenbachs told ProPublica that the ethane’s signature meant that it could not have been there naturally. He said he is convinced that it resulted from drilling. … The Energy Resources Conservation Board denied a request for an interview. In written responses to questions, spokesman Bob Curran said he could not comment on the specifics of Ernst’s case, but the agency is confident it has conducted itself appropriately. … Alberta Environment and Water, would not comment on Ernst’s allegations because of the lawsuit but said there have been no confirmed cases of gas drilling contaminating water wells in the province. Muehlenbachs, whose work has been used in several government investigations, said that is “simply false.”
Permalink to: Oh, Canada’s Become a Home for Record Fracking
Dr. Tony Ingraffea and Jessica Ernst at Halifax Nova Scotia December 2, 2011