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Second legal challenge launched against fracking in New Brunswick

Frack BackCBC reports, “Eighteen New Brunswickers are suing the provincial and federal governments and SWN Resources for allegedly violating aboriginal, Constitutional, environmental and international laws. The so-called Peoples Lawsuit was filed in Saint John on Thursday in a bid to stop shale gas development in the province.”

“The legal action asks the court to evaluate its commitment to human rights and fairness in judicial proceedings, to right the many wrongdoings and to uphold the rule of law, peace and friendship treaties and the lawful rights of both indigenous people and citizens. …The plaintiffs are also urging the provincial government to work toward developing greener energy, seeking full disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking, and want compensation for harm they allege has already been caused to them and their land.”

Plaintiff Lorraine Clair says, “With this, we want all oil and gas companies to stay off our lands and waters and to end any future plans of coming into our hunting, medicine and burial grounds. …As aboriginal people, as a Mi’kmaq woman, I do have the right to protect my own land and to me, that’s why I’m sitting here, is because those rights were taken away from me.”

The NB Media Coop adds, “The determined group [of plaintiffs] includes an organic farmer, a sound technician, a complete family of six, Aboriginal people from Elsipogtog and elsewhere, a young woman from Halifax who says she was a victim of a hit-and-run by a SWN contractor, but refused assistance by the police, and a leader in the Maliseet Grand Council and Wabanaki Confederacy.”

That article notes, “One thing the Peoples Lawsuit will highlight is the damage already done to an aquifer in Kent County–damage that has yet to be repaired. Lorraine Clair knows about that damage. The 47-year old mother and grandmother has ‘walked along the paths SWN used’ and has seen the broken aquifer there. A so-called ‘shot hole’ near Rogersville, drilled as part of the exploration process, punctured an aquifer that has been bleeding on to the ground every since.”

“Another plaintiff, Alma Brooks, a Maliseet Grand Council leader, has long argued that Aboriginal people in the Maritimes are the rightful owners of Crown Land. The Supreme Court decision [in favour of Tsilhqot’in title to land in British Columbia] says she’s right.”

Their 19 page Statement of Claim can be read here.

The Facebook page for the Frack Back Peoples Lawsuit can be found here.

The NB Media Coop notes, ‘[Thier lawyer Larry] Kowalchuck is also handling the anti-shale gas lawsuit against the Province of New Brunswick announced three days prior to the Peoples Lawsuit. That suit, by the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance prepared to demonstrate in court the very real and present danger shale gas presents to people, plants, animals, and the air, land and water that are the font of all life.”

For more on that court challenge, please see New Brunswick anti-fracking alliance takes provincial government to court. The Council of Canadians Saint John chapter is a member of the alliance, and chapter activist Carol Ann Ring is a plaintive in the case.