Small Canadian town takes down 'Goliath' oil company over drinki - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Small Canadian town takes down 'Goliath' oil company over drinking water

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QUEBEC -

Just like the biblical tale of David and Goliath, a small town in the province of Quebec won a million-dollar lawsuit by an oil and gas exploration company that began when residents took a stand to protect their drinking water.

“Reason and law prevailed today,” said François Boulay, the mayor of Ristigouche Sud-Est. “We are relieved that our right to protect our drinking water is finally recognized.”

According to The Guardian, In 2011, Quebec granted the company, Gastem, permits to begin drilling in search of oil and gas in the eastern part of the province. That's when the company began construction on a drilling platform in the borders of the town. The town, with population 157, passed a law in 2013 that created a one-mile no-drill zone around the water supply. Gastem filed a lawsuit that claimed that the law was illegal to prevent the project from moving forward. The company claimed damages in the amount of $1.2 million, which is more than three times the town's annual budget.

Years later a judge in the superior court of Quebec ruled that Ristigouche Sud-Est was within its rights to protect its water supply. “Far from being adopted in an untimely and hasty manner, the bylaw was the result of a serious effort to address the concerns and demands of Ristigouche’s citizens,” Judge Nicole Tremblay wrote in her decision. “Public interest, the collective well-being of the community and the safety of residents must be weighed for all projects introduced into a municipality.”

Judge Tremblay ordered the company to cover half of the city's legal fees as well as C$10,000 for other costs as a result of the lawsuit. Gastem did not reply to The Guardian for comment.

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