Fracking lawsuit rejected by Alberta court

Lawyers for an Alberta woman, who says hydraulic fracturing has so badly contaminated her well that the water can be set on fire, argued in front of the Supreme Court Tuesday for her right to sue the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Jessica Ernst, a resident of Rosebud, Alta., first began legal action in 2007 against the regulator and Calgary-based energy company Encana.

She then amended her statement of claim in 2011 to include Alberta Environment, as well.

In an earlier ruling, an Alberta court rejected Ernst's suit, ruling that immunity provisions in Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Act exempt her from protections offered by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"That is a rather shocking and surprising thought," Ernst's lawyer, Murray Kilppenstein, said of the Alberta court's ruling.

"A basic idea of the Charter is that it's controlling governments and limits their power is the ultimate guardian of freedom."

Klippenstein said the case (external - login to view) is an important one that could reaffirm the importance of the Charter across Canada.

The court heard the appeal but reserved judgment for a later date. A decision isn't expected for at least a matter of weeks, possibly months.

Fracking lawsuit rejected by Alberta court goes before Supreme Court in Charter test - Calgary - CBC News
Ohoh!!! The last time Rosebud was brought up, we had some real salty individuals. (external - login to view)
Jessica Ernst can’t sue Alberta regulator in fracking case: Supreme Court | Cana
Apparently the fat lady may not have sung yet.....

Wanless said the ruling does not resolve some of the key issues, including whether a government can pass a law that prevents people from going to court to challenge a regulator if they believe their charter rights have been breached.

“This judgment is going to cause some head-scratching among the legal community,” he said.

Ernst said she plans to focus her time and money on continuing her lawsuit against Encana and Alberta Environment.

She said she expects others will file similar lawsuits over regulators and fracking. “I worked as hard as I could to get as far as I could and now it is somebody else’s turn. I throw the gauntlet down.”
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