When CBM drilling (Coal Bed Methane) and the accompanying hydraulic fracturing came to Rosebud circa 2005, Fiona Lauridsen had no idea that it would change her life forever. She first noticed problems when her tap water became cloudy, full of bubbles, and started to violently spurt out of the faucet – she realized gas bubbles were pressurizing her water. Next the family suffered from skin irritations in the shower – chemical burns from water that had never been top quality, but certainly didn’t have a truckload of carcinogens in it prior to the arrival of EnCana’s CBM Wells. When animals became sick, cows miscarried, or calves simply died for seemingly no reason, it became clear that something was happening to the water.
Fiona joined Jessica Ernst, and several other area land owners, including Debbie Signer, Donna Wise, Shawn and Ronalie Campbell and Jan Slomp, to try to find out what was going on underneath the surface. Along her journey, she met journalist Tadzio Richards, and from his original article, came the idea for the documentary, “Burning Water“, which followed Fiona and her family as they struggled to deal with the repercussions of their water well contamination.
After the documentary, Burning Water, was released, Fiona has volunteered her time to screen the film and hold Q/A sessions (which we still do – for more info CLICK HERE). From one such presentation at the University of Alberta Augustana Campus came the project Responsibility for the Land – Fiona was invited to give a more detailed presentation, something that went more in-depth about her experience dealing with the Alberta Government and EnCana. View the presentation HERE or click here to watch on YouTube. Hoping to take their activism one step further, the students at Augustana University created the Alberta Voices project to help share the stories of other effected Alberta landowners by making films. You can watch the Alberta Voices short film series here.
Industry’s favourite defense of frac’ing is that those who oppose it are environmental wolf-criers who don’t understand the scientific “facts” about fracs. Fiona’s background as a chemist gave her the technical expertise to understand the science behind hydraulic fracturing – allowing her to figure out exactly how the regulators, government and industry have managed to maintain their spotless reputation: IN ALBERTA, NO CASES OF GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION HAVE BEEN CONCLUSIVELY LINKED TO HYDRAULIC FRACTURING.
Fiona says this is nothing to be proud of, and as opposition to the controversial frac’ing process continues to grow with environmentalists and landowners all over the continent sounding alarm bells, Alberta maintains its spotless reputation of NO REPORTED CONTAMINATION CASES – despite landowners all over the Province reporting dramatic changes in their water quality.
The Alberta Voices project shares such stories of effected landowners. A project inspired after Fiona gave a presentation at the University of Alberta. During that same conference Rachel Notley gave an impassioned speech; then several years later, she becomes Premier of Alberta.
The former Conservative Government have allowed oil companies an unprecedented ease of access to the black gold. Under the new government, there is a great deal of room for improvement of the Responsible Energy Development Act, and the Alberta Energy Regulator – hopefully Rachel Notley is the woman for the job.
CRITICAL THINKING: Why do we focus on questionable techniques of extraction when everyone is aware that the age of oil is ending? Rather than trying to harvest every ounce of oil available, it is time to change our mentality for a global shift towards renewable energy sources.
The time for change is now.