22 community groups and three citizens sue New Brunswick government over future of fracing, Statement of claim alleges Charter of Rights and Freedoms violations

NBASGA takes legal action to stop shale gas Press Release by WEPAC, June 24, 2014
MONCTON, NB (June 23, 2014) – The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance (NBASGA) is taking the provincial government to court to stop shale gas development in the province.“We’re taking this action to protect the health and well-being of New Brunswickers, both now and in the future,” said NBASGA chairman Roy Ries.

NBASGA is an alliance of 22 non-profit, community groups across New Brunswick. It filed a Statement of Claim against the Province of New Brunswick in Saint John Court of Queen’s Bench Monday. NBASGA’s lawsuit says the development of unconventional shale gas and oil deposits poses so great a threat to human health and the environment that it violates Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing all persons in Canada the right to life and security of their person. That right to security of the person entails the right of Canadians to health and to clean drinking water.

NBASGA is asking the Court to impose a moratorium on the development of unconventional shale gas and oil until such time as long-term, population-based scientific studies demonstrate that it can be done safely. Regina lawyer Larry Kowalchuk is representing NBASGA, while Alliance directors Roy Ries, Jim Emberger and Carol Ring are acting as plaintiffs.

“The scientific research that has been done to date on shale gas, and the experience of communities elsewhere with the industry, is alarming,” Roy Ries said. “These show that shale gas development using current technologies needlessly jeopardizes the health of families and communities across New Brunswick.”

“For example, a recent study by scientists from the Colorado School of Public Health and Brown University found a strong correlation between a pregnant woman’s exposure to unconventional oil and gas wells and congenital heart defects,” he said. There are many such studies documenting life-threatening health problems and contamination of air, water and land associated with shale, Ries noted. “NBASGA will place the best available, peer-reviewed scientific studies documenting that damage before the courts.”

Denise Melanson and Jim Emberger are NBASGA’s official spokespersons for its legal action.

“Court action to stop shale gas is necessary because the Province of New Brunswick has ignored the many dire warnings about such development from both independent scientists and doctors, including the recent report from The Council of Canadian Academies that said there is no scientific basis for existing shale gas regulations” Emberger said.

“We have tried every means possible to get the provincial government to take the warnings about these dangers seriously, but they have been ignored or dismissed out of hand each and every time,” he said. “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to life and security of the person and neither governments nor corporations are allowed to violate those guarantees by ignoring threats to them for any purpose. This is why we are going to the courts.”

NBASGA also intends to document for the court the fact that shale gas development elsewhere has been shown to pollute groundwater, water wells and surface water that are some distance from actual drill sites. “Along with the contamination of provincial water sources, and the serious health problems associated with the industry, we are also confronted by the virtual certainty of air pollution resulting from development of unconventional shale oil and gas,” says Denise Melanson.

Melanson also notes that shale gas is a major contributor to climate change, and that climate change is a threat to all life on the planet.

About NBASGA

The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance represents the interests of New Brunswickers opposed to unconventional gas and oil exploration and development, while promoting a future in clean energy alternatives.
Website: www.noshalegasnb.ca

For more information, contact NBASGA Spokespersons:
Jim Emberger – (English)
Tel: (506) 440-4255
Email: email hidden; JavaScript is required

Denise Melanson (French)
Tel: 506-523-9467
Email: email hidden; JavaScript is required

NGASGA’s Statement of Claim (English only) [Emphasis added]

2014 06 24 New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance Header

N.B. government taken to court over future of fracking by The Canadian Press, June 23, 2014, CTV News
A New Brunswick group has launched legal action against the provincial government in an effort to halt shale gas exploration in the province. The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance filed the 18-page statement of claim today with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Saint John.

Anti-shale gas group suing New Brunswick government, Statement of claim alleges Charter violations over lack of public consultation by CBC News, June 23, 2014
The New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance and three citizens are suing the provincial government over plans to develop the industry in New Brunswick. The alliance, which represents 22 community organizations, and the three other plaintiffs, filed a notice of action and statement of claim with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Saint John on Monday, alleging Charter of Rights and Freedoms violations.

​They are calling for a moratorium on the development of “unconventional oil and gas exploration” until the government can establish “beyond a reasonable doubt and with scientific certainty … that it will not contribute to climate change, nor to the contamination of the water, air and land use which causes harm to the health of the plaintiffs and their future generations.”

Meanwhile, they contend the government should divert the social, political and economic resources currently at its disposal for unconventional oil and gas development into an energy supply system that is based upon renewable energy sources instead.

The provincial government has 20 days to respond. [Encana took 2 years and 4 months to file Statement of Defence in the ernst vs encana lawsuit]

The group hinted during a news conference in Moncton on Monday that additional lawsuits against the province by other groups may on the horizon, but declined to elaborate.

The documents filed with the court cite concerns about hydraulic fracturing, alleging the process causes “serious harm to both the environment and human health,” including “permanently contaminating and depleting finite clean water and air supplies for both present and future generations.”

‘All life, including human, animal and plant life is impossible without clean uncontaminated water and air.’
– New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, statement of claim

“All life, including human, animal and plant life is impossible without clean uncontaminated water and air,” the alliance, James David Emberger, of Taymouth, Roy L. Ries, of Harvey, and Carol Ann Ring, of Rothesay, state.

The 16-page statement of claim also outlines concerns about leaks, spills, illegal dumping of waste water, and a disruption to rural life.

“The cumulative, negative effects on rural people’s mental health, due to increased stress, anxiety, fear and depression, leads to physical health problems,”
the document states.

Lawsuit last resort
Emberger says the group has tried everything to get the attention of the provincial government, including petitions, demonstrations, debates and meetings. But the Alward government has rejected repeated calls for a moratorium on shale gas, he said.

The group has now raised $100,000 through individual donors and hopes to prove to the province that shale gas extraction can cause cancer, birth defects and respiratory problems.

Larry Kowalchuk, who represents the group, says the government has violated the Charter rights of New Brunswickers to life, liberty and security by moving forward with shale gas exploration without consulting citizens. “This is a free and democratic society. The Charter is important. These topics are critical now,” he said. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

2011 12 10 Encana frac'd the blue icing Jessica Ernst at Memramcook

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