**Free, unlike oil patch events which exclude most via prohibitive cost.**
|Book Launch Announcement|
The formal launch of our new book, Bearing Witness: The Human Rights Case Against Fracking and Climate Change, is being held this Monday evening, May 3rd. The event is free, open to everyone and begins at 6:00pm Pacific Time.
|Bearing Witness is a paradigm-shifting book that asks the question: How is the world’s view of fracking and climate change transformed when they are seen through the lens of human rights?|
Drawing on rulings from the 2018 Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Session on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change the book argues that climate change, and the extreme extraction techniques that fuel it, directly violate rights guaranteed by international law.
Further, governments are in deep collusion with oil and gas companies, abdicating their responsibilities to protect the rights of their citizens.
With six guests, we will explore the power of a human-rights framework to change the narrative on climate change and environmental justice. The guests are:
David James Duncan (co-author, The Heart of the Monster),
Emily Johnston (one of five “Valve Turners” who faced felony charges for closing pipeline valves that temporarily stopped the flow of all the oil entering the US from Canada),
Teresa Mills (grassroots organizer against fracking in Ohio),
Revel Pointon (Managing Lawyer for the Environmental Defenders Office in Brisbane, Australia),
Robin Bronen (director of the Alaska Institute for Justice, which works with communities forced to relocate because of climate change),
John Knox (the first United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment).
It would be great to see you there. Please invite your friends.
Register here: https://bit.ly/3xdamBs
|Dr Tom Kerns, Founder/Director, Environment and Human Rights Advisory|
Co-organizer, Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Session on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change
Founder/Director, Youth Climate Courts
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, North Seattle College
Online course: Environment and Human Rights
Books: Environmentally Induced Illnesses: Ethics, Risk Assessment and Human Rights
With Kathleen Dean Moore: Bearing Witness: The Human Rights Case Against Fracking and Climate Change, 2021
Refer also to:
2018: Jessica Ernst’s submission to the panel:
Dear Dr. Kerns and the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change.
Thank you for your emails. Sorry it has taken me so long to write you. I’ve thought long on this.
My lawsuit has so far resulted in endless delays and set backs by the courts, and setting terrible legal precedent which may harm many. I knew when I started my lawsuit in 2007 that our courts would never let me get anywhere – the legal club has been carefully set up to protect the oil and gas industry and its enabling regulators.
My lawyers advised it will cost me 10-12 years (we are already in year 11, with a trial nowhere in sight – even if we were ready to ask for a date, they are being set three years from now) and over a million dollars of my savings (and sacrificing my home) to perhaps win $20,000.00 at best (yes, you read that right), with the courts likely ordering me to also pay the legal costs of the defendants (which will bankrupt me) because I refuse to gag and settle. (In my professional view, gag orders for industry’s life and community threatening contamination of a vital public resource like water must be made illegal. AER’s outside counsel, Glenn Solomon, explains too well, how gag orders work to let oil companies keep polluting, “down the street.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKuCR3hHmf4)
I knew all this and expected my lawsuit to be dreadful, but I never expected the judges to be so obvious in their bias against the public interest and punishing me for trying to protect it (when NGOs lose lawsuits, they are usually not ordered to pay costs because their case was in the public interest. My case is clearly in the public interest, yet every loss, the judges have ordered me to pay the regulator’s costs even at the Supreme Court of Canada).
Main stream environmental groups (they get large donations from the oil and gas industry, our regulators and governments) have worked hard over the years to undo my work trying to warn people globally about the harms and risks caused by hydraulic fracturing. They’ve succeeded in most jurisdictions except where there is still democracy and people are willing to listen, wait and watch the evidence pile up proving how harmful and polluting frac’ing is.
In my experience, professionally and personally living frac’d, ordinary civil citizens don’t have human rights when it comes to being harmed by the oil and gas industry in Canada.
And we don’t have access to justice either, as proven by the Supreme Court of Canada in their intentionally dishonest (reference listed below) ruling in Ernst vs AER where the judges protect the law-violating regulator and damage our Charter (https://deansblog.osgoode.yorku.ca/2017/01/damaging-the-charter-ernst-v-alberta-energy-regulator/) [Comment added April 30, 3021: The deansblog post has since been removed; I had saved and posted it on my website, with the comments: https://www.ernstversusencana.ca/damaging-the-charter-ernst-vs-alberta-energy-regulator-by-lorne-sossin-dean-osgoode-hall-law-school-york-university/]
The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench has shown bias in every proceeding so far, protecting the regulators and Encana in my case, and in the future, by giving Encana and the Alberta government their chosen case management judge. The judges on the Court of Appeal of Alberta were shockingly rude, patronizing, and allowed Glenn Solomon, the lawyer for the AER, to interrupt and loudly yell out during my lawyer’s presentation of arguments calling him a liar. They said such ridiculous things about our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and my case, I could not believe I was in a Canadian courtroom.
I read the materials you advised me to read for the Tribunal. None of it relates to my case. I have lived frac’d now for 15 years and trying to access the legal system for 11 of those, going nowhere but backwards financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually, legally. Our regulators give industry more and more fresh water with which to frac, and deregulating to enable the harms while lying to the public, saying they are increasing regulations to make frac’ing safe.
Ex Prime Minister Steve Harper wouldn’t even give Canadians the right to safe water.
The “rights” our laws say we have in Canada are useless trying to access justice for water lost or polluted by frac’ing, or health harm suffered by families (the Diana Daunheimer case against Angle/Bellatrix was ordered settled last year by the same case management judge as in my case).
….I list below a few references for further reading:
1. Investigative journalist Andrew Nikiforuk’s book on the history and science of hydraulic fracturing:
Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry Hardcover – Published by Greystone Books, Sep 18 2015.
2016 09 12: Andrew Nikiforuk wins USA National Science in Society Award for Slick Water. “NASW’s Science in Society Journalism Awards honor and encourage outstanding investigative and interpretive reporting about the sciences and their impact for good and ill.”
The judges said, “Here’s an excellent book with a strong protagonist who carries the narrative and turns a potentially wonky and bureaucratic matter into a page-turner. The author is facile with the science, and also with the story telling.”
They added, “We found it a compelling read with clear, crisp writing. We were struck not just with the main character’s amazing persistence in pursuing justice against all odds, but also the author’s persistence as he nailed down the details. We came away inspired.”
The final judging committee consisted of Thomas Hayden (Stanford University), Martha Mendoza (Associated Press) and Gene Russo (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
2. My June 2013 gas migration paper, written simply with easy access to references for ordinary citizens to help them protect their loved ones, communities and water from frac’ing, and to start uncovering some of the cover-ups: Brief review of threats to Canada’s groundwater from the oil and gas industry’s methane migration and hydraulic fracturing
French Translation by Amie du Richelieu, June 16, 2013
3. Jessica Ernst Open Letter to Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin Regarding False and Seriously Damaging Statements in Justice Rosalie Abella’s Supreme Court of Canada Ruling, Ernst v AER, January 25, 2017
The Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling: https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/16325/index.do
The dishonest statement by Justice Rosalie Abella (Global Jurist of the Year in 2017, the year the ruling was released in my case) was called out by J McLachlin and three other judges in their dissent ruling in my case, but only the defamatory statement by J Abella was repeated in the court’s summary sent to Canadian media. Media published the lie. The smear worked, few are interested in my case anymore.
4. My talk in Malton, North Yorkshire, UK last October. It sums things up.
5. Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Lorne Sossin’s CV and Damaging the Charter: Ernst v. Alberta Energy Regulator. Dean Sossin is stepping down from this position effective April 30, 2018 (https://hennickcentre.ca/news/dean-sossin-step-down-spring-2018/). [December 17, 2018, he was appointed by the Canadian government to serve as judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario; In November 2020, he was appointed Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.]
In conclusion, I think a submission from me about my case will only bring harm to the credibility of the Tribunal’s ruling. Authorities, including our not so honest or integral judges will dismiss it if I have any part in it. Sad, but true. This is the main reason why I have taken so long to get back to you; this has been a tough decision to make. …
I will be following the Tribunal closely. In my experience, it is much more important than any “real” court or judgement on frac’ing in Canada.
“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”
– Loren Eisely, The Immense Journey, originally published in 1957 (the year I was born).
… “The emotional and spiritual damage of not having clean water, having to look at all of the water surrounding us on a daily basis and unable to use it, is almost unquantifiable,” said Chief Emily Whetung.
**I agree. The feds and provinces give much of the public’s money to foreign oil patch and mining billionaires. I don’t have drinking water either, mine got frac’d. I must haul water which is a tedious, physically demanding, time-wasting and infuriating chore. I’ve been hauling water for myself since 2008; the gov’t hauled it for me and some neighbours for two years before that, then, violated their legislature-made promise to provide us safe water permanently. I think their deliveries made Encana look too guilty, so they were cancelled, hanging us frac-harmed out to dry.**
… Access to drinking water is something few Canadians ever have to think twice about. … “If you are anywhere else in Canada and you turn on the tap, then you are protected by safe drinking water regulations,” **Not true for Canadians like me raped by a multinational, with those very regulations ignored by authorities to enable corporate crimes** said Amanda Klasing, a water researcher at Human Rights Watch. …
… Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the EU commission, said that if social policy and climate policy are not combined, to share fairly the costs and benefits of creating a low-carbon economy, the world will face a backlash from people who fear losing jobs or income, stoked by populist politicians and fossil fuel interests.
He said: “It’s not just an urgent matter – it’s a difficult matter. We have to transform our economy. There are huge benefits, but it’s a huge challenge. The biggest threat is the social one. If we don’t fix this, our children will be waging wars over water and food. There is no doubt in my mind.” …
“Where I see a huge risk is that you get an alliance between those who don’t want change because they see their interest affected, whether it’s in fossil fuels or in traditional economic circles,” Timmermans told the Guardian in an interview. …
Changing people’s lives today would be difficult, but the benefits would be felt by today’s children, he added. “This for politics is a huge, huge challenge. We need to recapture that feeling of a purpose – doing something not for yourself, but for others, which I think has always led to society being at its best.”…
Timmermans’ warnings reflect a growing concern among climate experts that politicians have failed to show people the benefits of a low-carbon society, which include cleaner air and water, more livable cities, and higher levels of health and wellbeing, as well as defusing the climate crisis. …