• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Fracking: What lies ahead for Alberta rancher with poisoned waters?

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In Energy
Jan 16th, 2017
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Jessica Ernst burns off some of the methane from a bottle of her well water from Rosebud, Alta., which she says was contaminated by hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. -CP photo

Acclaimed Canadian author lays out dirty back story of fossil fuel industry and government

By Warren Bell National Observer

Jessica Ernst, the biologist who on Friday, lost a split decision in the Supreme Court of Canada over suing the Alberta Energy Regulator, is no ordinary person.

And she hasn’t really lost, because the SCC did not argue on the merits of her case, but rather rejected the procedure that led her case to their door. They opined, five judges to four, she should have gone through lower courts, and not headed straight to the highest court in the land.

The harmful effects of fracking process, and the wealthy industry that shamelessly and aggressively employs it, were not judged. So despite a temporary reprieve arising out of the the Court’s decision, they are inching closer to the critical challenge the deserve.

And here’s why the industry deserves that challenge.

On Dec. 12, 2016, the US Environmental Protection Agency released its mammoth, 1,000-page study highlighting the harms of fracking causes to drinking water.

The report came one year after an earlier draft had generated consternation among scientists and environmentalists with the statement that “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources.” The sentence, it is now known, was inserted into the EPA press release at the very last minute.

The current version now admits that dangerous water contamination can happen, and has happened, in many different ways. The fossil fuel industry, which praised the EPA’s earlier draft, was quickly outraged by the final EPA report:

“It is beyond absurd for the administration to reverse course on its way out the door,” wrote American Petroleum Industry spokesperson Erik Milito.

But the final version was praised by independent scientists, who had pointed out that the controversial conclusion that fracking didn’t harm drinking water was dead wrong. If you’re still skeptical, however, about the idea that the fossil fuel industry and regulators play do-si-do about the harms of fracking, or if you’re puzzled as to why this seismic shift in the EPA document took place, then it’s time for you read Andrew Nikiforuk’s 2015 book, Slick Water.

It’ll make you sadder but wiser, and you’ll understand how governments and Big Oil and Gas have in the past sung out of the same hymn book.

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