Supreme Court of Canada rules on Rose­bud frack­ing suit

Court up­holds En­ergy Reg­u­la­tor’s Im­mu­nity Clause

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

A law­suit that be­gan al­most a decade ago ap­pears to have been dealt a blow as the Supreme Court of Canada up­held an Al­berta Court of Ap­peal de­ci­sion last week that the Al­berta En­ergy Reg­u­la­tor can­not be sued.

Jes­sica Ernst filed suit ver­sus the Al­berta En­ergy Reg­u­la­tor, the Al­berta Gov­ern­ment and En­cana in re­gards to En­cana’s drilling pro­gram in the area for shal­low coal bed meth­ane. Her claim as­serts frack­ing caused dam­age to the lo­cal aquifer and con­tam­i­nated drink­ing wa­ter. Fur­ther, she also launched a char­ter chal­lenge af­ter, ac­cord­ing to her claim, she was in­formed that staff at the ERCB were in­structed to avoid fur­ther con­tact with her.

In Septem­ber of 2014, the Al­berta Court of Ap­peal ruled that the reg­u­la­tor could not be sued. This de­ci­sion was con­sid­ered at the Supreme Court of Canada and on Jan­uary 12 a 5-4 vote up­held the rul­ing, rec­og­niz­ing the en­ergy reg­u­la­tors’ im­mu­nity clause in the En­ergy Re­sources Con­ser­va­tion Act.

“Over­all, open­ing the Board to dam­ages claims could de­plete the Board’s re­sources, dis­tract it from its statu­tory du­ties, po­ten­tially have a chill­ing ef­fect on its de­ci­sion mak­ing, com­pro­mise its im­par­tial­ity, and open up new and un­de­sir­able modes of col­lat­eral at­tack on its de­ci­sions,” it stated in its de­ci­sion.

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