Take Action

I have some exciting news to share, these last few months have been crazy but I’m hoping things are finally starting to settle for me. In two months I moved twice, I started school, and today I interviewed and was accepted for an early practicum! I’m extremely excited about the opportunity and I really feel that all the bad things that happened to me were absolutely blessings in disguise! Getting lied to and then laid off, only to find out my boyfriend was cheating forced me to move out of the city to my parents farm, I was home so I could ride but then I broke my pelvis. Because of my injury I couldn’t start at SAIT in September as I had planned, so I had to find something else. I go to Robertson College Calgary and am enrolled in the Legal Administrative Assistant program. I had never heard of Robertson before I had to start searching for an option other than SAIT. I’m so happy I found it, I love the teachers, the small class sizes and the fact that my program is a year and a half shorter than the same program I was going to take at SAIT! Now I have a chance to start my career that much sooner, and I feel like a real life adult- 2013 is going to be amazing!

Since I moved I’ve been doing the literal MOUNTAIN of laundry I have, and the idea of doing a challenge came to me; WEAR EVERY ITEM IN MY CLOSET ONCE BEFORE I RE-WEAR. I have a RIDICULOUS amount of clothes, moving them is super annoying, and laundry is a terrible chore which I would love to abolish. So I’ll try to wear everything and post photos, and then do a mountain of laundry again at the end! I promise there will be lots of outfit posts to come!!!

In the meantime, allow me this digression from my usual vanity into the dirty world of government corruption, big business and the oil and gas industry.

This Friday, January 18th, 2013 in the Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench, Judge B. L. Veldhuis will hear the defendants’ applications in Jessica Ernst’s multi-million dollar suit naming Encana, the Energy Resource Conservation Board and the Alberta Government as responsible for contaminating her water well and gross negligence, when dangerous man made chemicals, as well as massive amounts of naturally occuring methane, inundated her well in 2005.

I know Jessica because the same thing happened to my families water well, just a few miles down the Rosebud River valley. It was here that Encana knowingly conducted experimental methods of coal bed methane extraction using hydraulic fracturing into shallow coal seams, perforating the aquifer that the water wells we use for bathing, cooking and drinking draw from- and we have proof. My family is followed in the documentary Burning Water if you are interested in our story, while Jessica chose to pursue litigation. If you haven’t watched the film, or aren’t planning on it, I’ll spoil the ending for you. My families claims were dismissed out of hand, Encana and the ERCB were absolved of any responsibility and were given the go ahead to continue fracking with immunity. The corruption seen in the golden age of oil here in Alberta made it impossible for regulators to act in the best interest in the public.  Our case was closed, we moved away from the  farm which no longer had usable water and tried to move on. This is why its SO important to me that Jessica Ernst be heard fairly in court. The best way for us to be sure of that is to uphold our civil duty as Albertan’s and BE THERE TO BE HEARD. Governments and corporations should not be allowed to act with immunity because of the financial gains, and as citizens we must recognize that this is indeed the case with the long reigning conservative government here in Alberta and we MUST stand up before it is too late to act. There is already a bill set in motion trying to make the regulations even more streamlined for MORE coal bed methane development. Industry has the go ahead to frack, and Encana, headquartered right here in Calgary, Alberta, is found innocent of any negligence or wrong doing in our case but was found guilty and heavily fined in Colorado, USA, in a case bearing striking similarities to our own- for more also check out the documentary Gasland.

“IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. shall be found in violation of Rule 209. failure to prevent the contamination of fresh water by gas, Rule 301., failure to notify the Director when public health or safety is in jeopardy and failure to notify the Director of significant downhole problems or mechanical failure, Rule 317.i., failure to pump cement 200′ above the top of the shallowest producing horizon, Rule 324A., impacts to water quality, Rule 327., loss of well control and allowing an underground blowout of gas, and Rule 910.a., failure to meet ground water standards in Table 910-1.” Source

Though our complaint (keep in mind it was an official review, not a lawsuit) was officially closed with the government, Jessica filed a Statement of Claim first in Drumheller, Alberta, the court closest to the Plaintiffs home, and to the cause of action. The case was later moved to the Calgary Court of Queens Bench at the request and convenience of the defendants, Encana Corp. The original claim was amended and shortened at the request of Judge Veldhuis and revised to Fresh Statement of Claim, in it Mrs. Ernst is seeking damages in excess of $30,000,000.00 CAD for the gross negligence of government regulators as well as on the part of Encana Corp. On Friday the defendants applications will be heard and I am looking forward to seeing what the Judge and the defendants have to say. If you have any interest in the matter, or any interest in water safety regulations, come to the Court of Queens Bench Calgary tomorrow and show your support for Jessica Ernst, winner of the UN International Women of Courage Award, and stand up for your water rights!

It is critically important and failure to act could have devastating global consequences as fracking spreads all over the world. Instead of trying to come up with new ways to get the difficult to capture gas out, the focus instead must be on alternate fuel sources. Imagine the jobs that would be created if as a society, as a species, humans moved away from fossil fuels and used technology that is already available to make our existence work with what the earth has given us, rather than relentlessly taking until nothing is left. The excuse that the worlds economy would collapse if we move away from oil and gas is ridiculous and propagated in order to pursue their agenda  not in the best interest of the public, or even of society as a whole.

For more information about Jessica Ernst and the lawsuit visit her website. For more information about my families story search through the Eco-Activism category, or check here, here and here. See also the Burning Water tab at the very top of the page.

Have a wonderful weekend, and take some time to think about the future, xo, a

Responsibility for the Land

I posted back in November about how busy I was working with my mom, well this is  what we were up to! I would love it if you would take the time to check it out and learn a thing or two. My mother was invited as a speaker for a Conversation on Fracking at Augustana University in Camrose, Alberta.

“With an assembly of experts, landowners and industry representatives, our aim is to foster constructive dialogue that will enable Albertans to manage our resources wisely.”

Full list of Presenters and other presentations from November 2-3, 2012

The youtube video of Fiona’s presentation goes with a PowerPoint, available for download here. Alternately  for your convenience, I have included the slides in the correct order below the embeded video- important slides have noted the time they are referenced. You don’t get to see the fancy animation I put in, but it is a little simpler to click through while watching the presentation.

Be sure to check out Dr. Karlis Muehlenbachs who also spoke over the weekend and  is referenced in Fiona Lauridsen’s presentation. His expertise was crucial in helping unravel the questionable science of Dr. Alec Bylth from the Alberta Research Council, who’s report was the basis for Alberta Environment’s decision to absolve Encana of any responsibility for the contamination in our water well, as there was NO EVIDENCE OF GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION.

My mom also references Jessica Ernst in her presentation, its really because of Jessica that we were able to find out so much information about Hydraulic Fracturing and the dangers; she and my mother worked side by side for years to figure out what happened to the aquifer in Rosebud. Another affected neighbour, Mrs. Signer, who’s well is referenced in the presentation, reports and slides; moved away from the area, selling her B&B because she no longer had safe water.

Jessica Ernst is taking legal action a multi-million dollar lawsuit accuses EnCana, Alberta Environment and Energy Resources Conservation Board of negligence and unlawful activities. For her stand against fracking, Jessica was honored by the UN with the International Women of Courage Award in October of last year.

UNANIMA International Woman of Courage Award

NEW YORK, NY (October 1, 2011) UNANIMA International, UN Economic and Social Council accredited NGO working for international justice at the United Nations celebrates 10th Anniversary Saturday icts by presenting icts WOMAN OF COURAGE annual award to Jessica Ernst of Rosebud, Alberta , Internationally known for her efforts to hold companies accountable for environmental harm done by “fracking”.

Ernst, a 54 year old scientist with 30 years petroleum industry experience, is Suing the Alberta government, Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) and EnCana for negligence and unlawful activities.

Nearly a decade ago EnCana, one of the world’s largest natural gas producteurs, Began a risky and experimental drilling program hydraulic fracturing That Applied intense coalbed methane for shallow THROUGHOUT central Alberta. Ms. Ernst’s statement of claim EnCana broke multiple lighters That provincial laws and règlements and contaminated shallow aquifer That a Supplied drinking water to the community with natural gas Rosebud and toxic industry-related chemicals. The claim methodically reports how Alberta’s two key groundwater regulators, Alberta Environment and the ERCB, “failed to follow the investigation and enforcement processes That They HAD, established and publicized.” Have The allegations yet to be proven in court.

Hydraulic fracturing uses “brute force” to blast open oil, gas and coal formations with highly pressurized chemical fluids or gases. It is the subject of serious government investigations THROUGHOUT North America. In 2002, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment HELD Linking Water Science to Policy Workshop. The workshop report Concluded That unconventional natural gas drilling Posed a real threat to groundwater quality and quantity, and que la nation needs “baseline hydrogeological investigations … to be ble to Recognize and track groundwater contaminants.” Not Until nine years later on September 21, 2011 the Canadian government did announce That It Would initiate two studies hydraulic fracturing to determined Whether is harming the environment.

International UNANIMA thing Ms. Ernst was emperor awardee this year as a share of international icts “Water = Life” campaign. “Access to life-giving water is an essential right for all life forms,” ​​stated the UNANIMA coordinator, Catherine Ferguson. “Our members have year Have Experienced fracking safe to Their enormous fresh water supply Wherever it is Carried out. We applaud Ms. Ernst’s bravery in standing up for her rights. “

The award and a lecture by Ms. Ernst will be Given at the 10th Anniversary reception for UNANIMA International in New York at the Church Center of the United Nations, 777 UN Plaza, just across from the United Nations building on East 44th Street. The event begins at 11:00 am.

UNANIMA International 
211 East 43rd Street, Room 1207 
New York, NY 10017 
Tel :/ Fax 212-370-0075 (Office) 
http://www.unanima-international.org

As for my mom?

she pursued the matter by allowing documentary film makers to follow her on journey to uncover the truth, as told in Burning Water, featured on CBC’s The Passionate Eye. She has spoken in communities, Colleges and Universities in Southern Alberta and British Columbia. The farm featured in Burning Water was sold, but the Lauridsen family still live in the Rosebud valley, farming land just 9 miles East of the previous property. The complaint that Encana contaminated ground water was dismissed outright by the government and the community and has not been revisited. The matter for us, is closed.

The matter however is only just beginning to open up, and the truth of the matter is MORE people need to speak up when government refuses to reign in industry because of their own capitalistic motivations. At the end of the presentation my mom mentions that they are streamlining regulations to allow industry even LESS ACCOUNTABILITY. This is happening in Alberta right now!

Rachel Notley, the MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona and a long-standing labour and environment advocate, spoke at the conference and urged Albertan’s to stand up and vote against the conservative government who continue to allow the Oil and Gas companies to drill unchecked and self-regulated.

The damage from fracking has ALREADY been done, there is no longer a question about it. The question remains, how are we going to fix the damage we have done, and how can we prevent such harm in the future?

The answer is simple, and yet, we are told economically impossible; end reliance on fossil fuels.

your interest in this matter is of the utmost importance, and i thank you. xo, aiyana.

WIN IT HERE- Signed Burning Water DVD

For those who see no problem with the Oil and Gas development, I thought maybe you’d like to take a second look. These are the wells I see every day on my 5 minute drive to work, these photos represent a TINY percentage of the development in the area and this is only the beginning of what they have planned.

The warning signs are everywhere, and yet we continue to ignore them.

I’m painfully aware that the vast majority of my readers care little for my “save the environment” posts and would much rather I just make with the pretty pictures. I say painfully because it truly saddens me that anyone could care more about an outfit than about the future of the planet.

It’s easy to delude yourself into believing that in this big wide world your little voice will make no difference, but I assure you the only way you can be certain of that is if you never bother to speak up. Perhaps it’s because the problems in this world are so immense it feels insurmountable; or perhaps its simply ignorance, or unwillingness to accept things as they are. Whatever the reason for it, its nothing more than an excuse to do nothing, and that is absolutely unacceptable to me.

My stake in the situation is personal. My family moved from our home and sold our farm after our well water was contaminated by fracking. We got chemical burns in the shower, our animals got sick, and suddenly our water lit on fire; none of this could never be conclusively proved to have been caused by fracking. There were lab errors, there is naturally occurring methane, and obviously, we’re just crazy farmers who neglected our well. I could go posting all the proof of corruption that we’ve dug up over the years, but what would be the point? The idea that Oil and Gas companies are an economic savior is so deeply ingrained in the mentality of Albertan’s that trying to dispute this “fact” leaves one cast as a leper. Even among my closest friends if I bring up the topic it’s generally met with eye-rolls and I’m informed by them of how “safe” all the development is, and that it’s a ridiculous concern to even have. The beliefs of their parents have been passed down for generations, and that residual ignorance and unwillingness to consider an alternative stymies any potential progress.

This is because the companies have gone to great lengths to buy our compliance. And do not be mistaken, because we have all been bought and paid for. Farmers are paid land rent for each well-site, sometimes its the only reliable income in such a fickle profession. Local communities and business’ receive grants and generous donations to improve playgrounds or schools or theaters, and countless individuals are employed in the sector. In our capitalist based society the economy is the number one concern. In the upcoming US Presidential Election economic policies are central to the candidates chances of being elected. What matters is the bottom line, what matters is money. And while a strong economy is indeed crucial to a strong country, will it matter when we have nothing left to drink?

Fresh water, like oil and gas is a finite resource, and we are wasting all 3 at a phenomenal rate. We have the technology (and have for years) needed to make the change to green energy sources, and yet we continue to rely on oil and gas despite ever-increasing prices, emissions and environmental effects. Why? For one, the billions of dollars in revenues would disappear, giving anyone who financially benefits from the oil industry the incentive to continue to be set in their ways. Billions of dollars at stake and yet no one questions it when those billionaires tell us “everything is fine” all while continuing to rape the planet and get rich off their plundering.

Consider what is at stake here; on the one hand, billions and billions of dollars in revenues and, on the other, our fresh water. They will tell you it’s not that simple, but I promise you that it is. And while we can always find other ways to make more money, and already have alternatives to gas power, we cannot un-pollute the water after the companies frack it full of carcinogens.

 

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proceed with caution, our apathy today will effect the children of tomorrow.

Also please check out http://citystylecountrysmile.com/burning-water/ and like or share the page!

Want more? Win a DVD of Burning Water! Signed by myself and my amazing mother; Fiona Lauridsen. Like and leave a comment below!

And get involved! We will be in Camrose, AB November 2-3 2012 for the Alberta Surface RightsConversations on Fracking conference.  Our presentation is on Saturday afternoon, please come check it out if you have the chance! 

I’d absolutely love to meet you! XO, a