At first, Nielle and Howard Hawkwood, who have ranched in Alberta’s foothills for 40 years, couldn’t believe the ”in-your-face industrialization” that accompanied the horizontal drilling and fracking of tight oil wells around Cochrane, Alberta. It began in 2009 when the so-called Cardium oil boom abruptly dotted the rolling landscape with scores of well pads, oil batteries, and new access roads. The companies were drilling lateral wells, which turn 90 degrees and travel for kilometres underground, extending under people’s barns and homes. (Tight oil costs more to extract and produces lower quantities of oil.) As industry fracked these deep, far-reaching wells with millions of gallons of water, toxic chemicals, and sand under high pressure and then burned off unwanted raw gas, the Hawkwoods and many of their neighbours began complaining about noxious emissions and earth tremors. Some officials with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) initially responded to general complaints in […]