Jessica Ernst. Photo by Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald
The Vancouver Sun reports, “A southern Alberta landowner (Jessica Ernst) who has long claimed coal bed methane drilling (fracking) polluted her well water has launched a lawsuit demanding more than $10 million each from Encana, the Alberta government and the province’s energy regulator. …In a statement of claim filed at Drumheller’s courthouse, she states the failure of Alberta’s Environment Department and the Energy Resources Conservation Board to investigate her case and enforce regulations ‘served as a government coverup of environmental contamination caused by the oil and gas industry’. Ernst claims that a decade ago Encana ‘began a risky and experimental drilling program for shallow coal bed methane at dozens of wells in the area around Rosebud’, a small hamlet northeast of Calgary.”
“Ernst…alleges the natural gas giant released a large amount of contaminants into underground freshwater supplies. ‘As a result, Ms. Ernst’s water is now so contaminated with methane and other chemicals that it can be lit on fire,’ said the legal statement. …In 2008, an Alberta Research Council report concluded the methane found in the wells in the area was naturally occurring, a phenomenon that exists in parts of Alberta where underground water supplies come from coal seams. The report stated that ‘energy development projects in the areas most likely have not adversely affected the complainant water wells’.”
“Ernst will hold a news conference in Calgary today, and said in a news release she will bring her story to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York next week.” The media release says, “The United Nations invited Jessica Ernst to present her story and make recommendations to governments at the 19th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York next week (May 1-6).”
The Vancouver Sun report is at http://www.vancouversun.com/business/drilling+critic+launches+multimillion+dollar+suit/4679687/story.html. The media release announcing the lawsuit is at http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/April2011/26/c6700.html.