Earthjustice Supports Fracking Challenge in Mendoza, Argentina
In support of our Argentinian partner OIKOS’s lawsuit, Earthjustice has filed a “friend of the court” (amicus curiae) brief challenging Mendoza regulations that allow unconventional oil and gas drilling, also known as “fracking.” If successful, this lawsuit will halt fracking in the province until the government conducts a complete assessment of the practice’s environmental impacts. Mendoza’s fracking regulations were fast tracked with little-to-no prior assessment as to how the practice might pollute Mendoza’s precious water sources, cause seismic activity, or spread radioactive material, among other impacts.
OIKOS's lawsuit, which is currently before the Mendoza Supreme Court of Justice, argues that Mendoza’s fracking regulations violate national and provincial constitutional provisions for environmental protection, as well as federal environmental law, because they do not adequately control fracking or protect the right to a healthy environment.
We provide the Mendoza Supreme Court with numerous examples from scientific and government studies on the experience of fracking in the United States and fracking’s potential to cause grave and irreversible harm. The precautionary principle, a legal doctrine in Argentinian and international law, emphasizes caution and review before jumping into new practices that may cause harm such as fracking. We argue that the precautionary principle requires that the government take strong precautions before authorizing new fracking projects in the province.
We also show how governments around the world have adopted policies to suspend or prohibit fracking, based on the precautionary principle and a concern with fracking’s serious and irreversible impacts, such as water toxicity and contributing to climate change. These governments include: France, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, the United Kingdom, New York (USA), Maryland (USA), Washington (USA), Victoria (Australia), Tasmania (Australia), and Northern Territory (Australia).
Statement from Jacob Kopas, Earthjustice International Program staff attorney:
“Before jumping head first into fracking, the Mendoza government needs to take a hard look at the science and evidence on fracking’s impacts. It should not ignore mistakes made in other countries where growing evidence shows how fracking waste can pollute rivers, underground aquifers, and dirty the air. Fracking can even expose workers and nearby communities to dangerous levels of radioactive particles. Mendoza can spark its economy and create new jobs by investing in clean energy alternatives like solar or wind.”
This case can help preserve the health and access to water to many Argentinians faced with the expansion of fracking in the Vaca Muerta basin in the Argentinian Pampa region. Earthjustice joins the Malalweche Territorial Identity Organizacion, an authority of the indigenous Mapuche people, and the non-governmental organizations Xumek and FARN (Environment and Natural Resource Foundation) all of which have separately submitted briefs to support OIKOS’s arguments in this lawsuit.
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