Alberta woman loses fracking case appeal

By Staff The Canadian Press

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press Protesters gather outside the Nova Scotia legislature in Halifax to rally against fracking in the province.

EDMONTON – An Alberta woman has lost her appeal to sue the province’s energy regulator over hydraulic fracturing on her property.

Jessica Ernst launched a $33-million lawsuit against the Alberta government, the province’s energy regulator and energy company Encana (TSX:ECA).

She claims gas wells fracked around her land northeast of Calgary unleashed hazardous amounts of methane and ethane gas and other chemicals into her water well.

Last fall an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled that Ernst can’t sue the energy regulator because it is immune from private legal claims.

The Alberta Court of Appeal has upheld that ruling.

Ernst says she will continue her lawsuit against the province and Encana.

“Protecting administrative tribunals and their members from liability for damages is constitutionally legitimate,” the panel of appeal court judges said in the ruling released Monday.

Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping water, nitrogen, sand and chemicals at high pressure to fracture rock and allow natural gas or oil to flow through wells to the surface.

Ernst said she plans to seek leave to appeal Monday’s ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Company officials were not immediately available for comment.

In its statement of defence, Encana has denied all of Ernst’s allegations.