Jim Hope-Ross, the lawyer for Barbara and Larry Graff and their adult son, Darrell, said he found it “disturbing” that the court considered the Graffs “the authors of their own demise.”
“If it’s something cumulative, as it is with the Graffs, how can you ever establish that?” he said. “It puts an awfully tough onus on the little guy.”
The Graffs didn’t want to publicize their health problems, he added, and the regulator could have done more to consider their request for privacy.
But Bob Curran, a spokesman for the Energy Resources Conservation Board, which now handles the oil and gas regulation formerly overseen by the EUB, said anything filed with the regulator has to be made public.
When the family asked for it to be kept private, but didn’t file a confidentiality request, that left the regulator to choose protecting the family’s privacy over keeping the documents — leading to staff returning the evidence so that it wasn’t part of the case.
“Our hands were tied at that point,” he said. “We were put in an untenable position.”
Curran said the appeal court’s ruling showed the regulator has an appropriate process for people to show their concerns.
Wednesday’s decision was mostly rendered moot, however, after EnCana decided to abandon the wells because they weren’t producing much gas.
EnCana spokesman Alan Boras said the wells were “test wells,” adding the court ruling showed EnCana nevertheless did what was asked of it.