Great news! We’ll be at the Supreme Court of Canada next month to ensure that polluters pay to clean up their messes.
In Alberta, more than 80,000 inactive oil and gas wells have yet to be properly cleaned up and de-commissioned. These sites can contaminate the surrounding land, creating a toxic burden for farmers and taxpayers alike.
That’s why, for nearly a decade, supporters like you have helped Ecojustice work with landowners and regulators to address this environmental blight. When we heard the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) was headed to the Supreme Court of Canada to ensure a now-bankrupt company’s inactive oil and gas wells are cleaned up, we sought to lend our expertise as intervenors.
Last week, the Court granted our application to intervene in our own name.
For almost a decade, we’ve worked towards better regulation of Alberta’s massive abandoned wells problem. We’ve also seen how it affects landowners like Tony and Lorraine Bruder, Alberta cattle ranchers who we’ve worked with to pressure the AER to take action on abandoned sour gas wells on their land.
The Bruders’ case is only one example of a much broader and systemic problem of lack of enforcement by the AER. Now, we have an opportunity as interveners at the Supreme Court to set a nation-wide precedent, and the stakes are higher than ever.
In the last 20 years alone, the number of inactive wells in Alberta tripled. Meanwhile, similar abandoned well sites can be found right across the country.
With the world’s appetite for fossil fuels on the wane, more and more oil and gas companies are likely to go bust — meaning Alberta’s abandoned well problem could go from bad to even worse. Companies shouldn’t be allowed to simply walk away from the messes they create, and regulators must have the tools they need to force polluters to pay.
We know firsthand that the perspectives of interveners can be a game-changer at the Supreme Court level. From upholding the right of citizens to launch environmental class actions to ensuring they have the right to hold government to account when it violates the law, Ecojustice’s intervener work has contributed to powerful legal precedents that protect people and the planet.
Every case we take on requires an enormous amount of time, energy and resources to ensure we can submit and present the best possible evidence and analysis. Our lawyers have less than a month before they’ll be setting foot in Canada’s highest court. Working on such a compressed timeline means it will be all hands on deck.