Energy & environment

Most investor-state disputes (ISDS) have concerned environmental matters. Corporations are using the ISDS system found in trade and investment agreements to challenge environmental policies. As of end of 2019, 41% of all ICSID cases were energy and natural resources-related.

Most well-known cases include:

• Lone Pine Resources (US) vs. Canada: the investor challenged Quebec’s moratorium on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas. The provincial government declared the moratorium in 2011 so as to conduct an environmental impact assessment of the extraction method widely accused of leaching chemicals and gases into groundwater and the air. Case pending (NAFTA invoked).

• Bilcon (US) vs. Canada: the US industry challenged Canadian environmental requirements affecting their plans to open a basalt quarry and a marine terminal in Nova Scotia. In 2015 the ISDS tribunal decided that the government’s decision hindered the investors’ expectations. Bilcon won and received US$7 million in damages, plus interest (NAFTA invoked).

• Vattenfall (Sweden) vs. Germany: in 2007 the Swedish energy corporation was granted a provisional permit to build a coal-fired power plant near the city of Hamburg. In an effort to protect the Elbe river from the waste waters dumped from the plant, environmental restrictions were added before the final approval of its construction. The investor initiated a dispute, arguing it would make the project unviable. The case was ultimately settled in 2011, with the city of Hamburg agreeing to the lowering of environmental standards (ECT invoked).

Photo: Kris Krug / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

(March 2020)

Huffington Post | 14-Jun-2016
Northern Dynasty is prepared to file a claim for “arbitration” under NAFTA, seeking compensation for the failure of the Pebble Mine project to move forward to federal permitting.
RT | 10-Jun-2016
El Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. ha rechazado este lunes la recusación por parte de Ecuador de la decisión de una corte inferior que en agosto de 2015 imponía el pago de una indemnización de 96 millones de dólares a la petrolera estadounidense Chevron.
Ghana Web | 9-Jun-2016
AngloGold Ashanti’s decision to sue government at the ICSID over security concerns at its Obuasi concession has been described as “surprising” by private legal practitioner and former Attorney General, Ayikoi Otoo.
TTIP Free Zones Europe | 9-Jun-2016
Aristoteli joined a growing movement of local authorities opposed to CETA and TTIP to deny the building of a polluter’s paradise
The Chronicle Herald | 8-Jun-2016
The environmental lobby is going to bat for the federal and provincial governments against international big business in a $101-million argument.
Reuters | 8-Jun-2016
The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a $96 million international arbitration award issued in 2011 in favor of energy company Chevron in a dispute over the development of oil fields in Ecuador.
Financial Post | 8-Jun-2016
A small Canadian mining company has found itself at the centre of a highly charged dispute over its rights to mine for gold in a Colombian nature reserve.
Reuters | 6-Jun-2016
More than 450 groups on Monday called on Congress to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) if it comes up for a vote this fall, saying the trade deal would allow fossil fuel companies to contest U.S. environmental rules in extrajudicial tribunals.
Market Watch | 3-Jun-2016
The Permanent Court of Arbitration awarded the Company damages of US$19,447,498, plus pre- and post-award interest.
Benziga | 31-May-2016
Centerra Gold Inc.reports that it has delivered a notice of arbitration to the Kyrgyz Republic Government in connection with certain ongoing disputes relating to the Kumtor mining project.

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