Supreme Court of Canada rules on Rosebud fracking suit
Court upholds Energy Regulator’s Immunity Clause
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.