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Water Today Title December 11, 2017

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Updated 10/11/13

Alberta Energy Regulator Given Immunity in Landmark Fracking Suit

Alberta's chief justice has ruled that a landmark lawsuit against the Alberta government and the energy giant Encana Corporation over groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracking can finally proceed to court.

But in the same lengthy 41-page ruling, Justice Neil Wittman also struck the province's energy regulator from the lawsuit.

His decision found that the Alberta government had granted statutory immunity to the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) from all legal claims. - For more bakcground info, see full article The Tyee

Does this mean that regulators can act with impunity no matter what the consequences?

According to environmental lawyer and Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Mark Mattson, "The Alberta chief justice's decision sets a precedent that regulators are immune from liability or damages that may arise from actions even if negligent or wilfully blind.

In the past when regulators acted as independent arbitrators and decision makers, immunity might have made sense. Today however, as governments force regulators into industry facilitators, liability for reckless, negligent or wilful blindness is the only constraint on the political imperative to never say "no" to stakeholders."

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