Responsibility for the Land

Fiona Lauridsen was the keynote speaker for the Responsibility for the Land conference, a Conversation on Fracking, held in November, 2012, at Augustana University in Camrose, Alberta.

Fiona’s presentation takes you through her ongoing journey; starting back circa 2005 when she first noticed problems in her water, to the present day – nearly a decade later – when she is still looking for answers and accountability.  According to Fiona:

 “Industry and Government across the world remain in the first step of problem solving –  DENIAL.   If we refuse to accept or even admit a problem exists, we can continue our actions while ignoring the consequences.  “

In Alberta, Oil & Gas companies are so rarely held accountable for their actions that our provincial record remains spotless –  no cases of water contamination in Alberta have ever been conclusively linked to Hydraulic Fracturing.   Despite overwhelming evidence collected by their own scientists, and then omitted from the final report to skew data.  Scientist risk losing their employment should they say the wrong thing. Below, highlighted in red, you can clearly see chemicals that are an indicator of petroleum contamination – some are man-made chemicals.  Fiona still hasn’t got the answers she is looking for:

“How did toluene get in my well water?”

A list of chemicals found in the Lauridsen water well

The AER stated industry activity “most likely had not” effected the quality of the Lauridsen’s water.

The Lauridsen complaint was closed on the basis that the methane in the water was naturally occurring.  (Which be fair, it was.  We had the methane samples tested by Dr. Karlis Muehlenbachs, an expert in geochemistry, who says there’s no way the methane was caused by bacteria –  it is naturally occurring DEEP-EARTH Methane.)  So we wonder – how did this deep earth Methane (normally trapped in the coal seams hundreds of feet below the aquifer) suddenly migrate into the aquifer in such quantities that the water becomes flammable?

EnCana says there is NO WAY that their high pressure CBM hydraulic fracturing activities (C.B.M. stands for COAL BED METHANE) had any effect on the aquifer – The Alberta Government agreed with their assessment and went on in the subsequent years to name the then VP of EnCana  (Gerry Protti) as the current Chair of the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Our complaint was closed on that basis,  but neighbour Jessica Ernst sued EnCana and Alberta after dealing with the same people and problems on her land.  The Alberta Government agreed with EnCana’s investigation of itself and absolved the company of any responsibility for the clear contamination in Rosebud – but they even went a step further to say that they have no duty of care to landowners – a statement which was rejected by Cheif Justice Whitmann, who recently ruled in favor of Ms. Ernst and awarded her triple costs against Alberta.   Jessica Ernst hopes to take her case to the Supreme Court of Canada- more details can be found on her website.

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