SWN Resources Calls Legal Action Against It ‘Frivolous and Vexatious’

31 07 2014

A shale gas exploration company says a legal action launched to stop its work in New Brunswick is “frivolous and vexatious,” aimed only to be a protest of government policy.   SWN Resources has shot back at a group of 18 individuals who launched a legal action last month aiming to block both the exploration and development of natural gas in the province.   The company looking to develop the province’s shale gas resources has now filed a statement of defence in response to those taking part in what has been labelled “Frack Back: the People’s Lawsuit.”   Several aboriginal people, environmental activists and other New Brunswickers affixed their name to the lawsuit filed in the Saint John Court of Queen’s Bench in June.   The action names SWN Resources and both the provincial and federal governments.    That motion followed another, similar legal action by the newly formed New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance and three citizens against the province.   SWN Resources has now declared it is prepared to go to court.   The company argues there’s simply nothing unlawful about its activities.   “At all material times SWN was engaged in lawfully permitted activities,” it states in court documents, adding that some or all of the plaintiffs involved in the action were instead engaged in protests that blocked, interfered or delayed the company’s work in the province.   “The action is frivolous and vexatious and intended as part of an ongoing campaign to protest lawfully permitted activities.”   The company later adds that the lawsuit is “an abuse of court process.”   The group of 18 held a press conference last month to publicize its legal action.   “As a Mi’kmaq woman, a mother, a grandmother, I want this to stop,” said Lorraine Clair, an Elsipogtog First Nation community member. “I don’t want my territory to be torn apart.”   The group’s lawyer, Larry Kowalchuck, said the group’s arguments are based on a violation of charter freedoms, pertaining to“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.”   Kowalchuck said the Supreme Court recognizes the right to life as the right to health, too.   “There are certain things government and companies can and can’t do,” he said. “Once they reach a point that harms life and one’s health, those rights stop.”   SWN Resources has continued its work in New Brunswick in the face of steady protests that have escalated into violence.   An anti-shale gas protest near Rexton turned violent when police enforced an injunction to halt the blockade of a compound where SWN had stored equipment. Forty people were arrested and six police vehicles burned.   In December, SWN announced in a short press release that it had completed its seismic acquisition program in New Brunswick. It took several court injunctions banning any interference with its activities to do so.   The company plans to drill exploratory wells in New Brunswick in 2015 to better understand the data it’s gathered to date.   SWN Resources court defence concludes that the plaintiffs are not entitled to the requested relief, asking the court to dismiss the claim with costs if favour of the company.   The company hired lawyer Matthew Hayes of McInnes Cooper to file the response.   “The action is intended to be a protest of government policy,” reads the defence, stating the lawsuit specifically asks the court to create a safer, cleaner, renewable energy source that does not contribute to climate change.   SWN Resources states that’s simply not an issue the court can consider.




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31 07 2014
SWN Resources Calls Legal Action Against It ‘Frivolous and Vexatious’ | NOFrack.co


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