There are credible experts who believe that, with proper regulation and enforcement, it is possible to have a trustworthy fracking industry. They also say this does not yet exist in North America. Personally, I think the industry is out of control and BC’s government is desperate to get in bed with it. Last week the government released a report from Ernst & Young (EY) which the Minister of Natural Gas Development says “British Columbians can have confidence they are benefiting from a clean, well regulated natural gas industry.” Does Ernst & Young’s LNG report vindicate BC?
Unconventional drilling creates a huge amount of waste, some of which is being sprayed onto farmer’s fields. A 2005 report from New Zealand stated cows grazing on “dump farms” have elevated levels of hydrocarbons. “Cows are allowed to graze on land with high levels of hydrocarbons without any punishment and their food products are allowed to go to market without government testing,” a Green Party MP said last year. It is happening in Canada too. The field above is northwest of Calgary. Former energy consultant Jessica Ernst said, “We are eating drilling & fracking waste.”
Canada’s Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal that would make provincial agencies legally accountable for their actions. Jessica Ernst’s lawyers argue that the Alberta Government owes its citizens a primae facie duty of care and provincial regulators acted in bad faith? The implications are far reaching. Can a private citizen sue Government regulators?
During the thirty years prior to the lawsuit, Ernst was a consultant working in the oil and gas sector. She performed like environmental impact assessments, environmental protection plans and recommended mitigation. Encana was one of her customers. Jessica Ernst doesn’t get paid work anymore. Seven years ago she sued against Encana, Alberta Environment and the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB). The case has yet to go beyond the question of whether an Albertan citizen can sue government agencies. When Judge Neil Whittmann ruled the case can proceed, last November, he said (paragraph 56) “there is a reasonable prospect Ernst will succeed in establishing that Alberta owed her a primae facie duty of care.” Did Albertan regulators act in bad faith?