Woman Seeks $33 Million in Canadian Fracking Lawsuit

A Canadian woman has filed a lawsuit claiming that <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hydraulic_fracturing_fracking">hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has polluted her well water. The $33 million (Canadian Dollars) fracking lawsuit names energy company Encana, the Alberta provincial government and the province’s energy regulator, as defendants.

According to the Vancouver Sun, Jessica Ernst has long claimed that fracking near her home in Rosebud, Alberta had caused her water to become polluted. As a result, Ms. Ernst’s water is now so contaminated with methane and other chemicals that it can be lit on fire,” said her legal statement. She claims that tests on her water revealed high levels of methane, ethane and several other fossil fuels. They also showed signs of heavy hydrocarbons, which are sometimes used in drilling fluids.

According to the Calgary Herald, Ernst, 54, is one of Alberta’s most outspoken critics of drilling methods such as fracking. In her lawsuit, 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.”

She is seeking more than $10 million from each of the three defendants named in her lawsuit.

“We’ve been lied to about hydraulic fracturing. We’ve been told it was safe. We were told in my community it wasn’t even happening,” Ernst said last Wednesday during a press conference announcing her lawsuit.

During the same new conference, Ernst’s lawyer said her case speaks to broader environmental concerns across North America about fracking.

“The hydraulic fracturing issues that Jessica raises in her lawsuit are coming up more and more publicly, with more and more concerns, not only in Alberta, but in B.C. and Quebec, and all over the United States,” he said.

Fracking has caused controversy in Canada before. In March, the government of Quebec decided to suspend new natural gas drilling that involves fracking, until its environmental impacts are better understood. Environment Minister Pierre Arcand’s announcement of the Quebec fracking halt followed the release of a government report that recommended the action.

“The conclusion of the report is clear: the lack of knowledge (about shale gas) requires the government’s close supervision, and to proceed very cautiously,” Arcand said at the time, according to the Montreal Gazette.

The Canadian fracking debate mirrors the one currently underway here in the U.S. As we’ve reported in the past, fracking, which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into the earth at high pressure to shatter underground rocks and release natural gas, is exempt from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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