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)

Canadians.org | 27-Mar-2013
A US-funded energy firm, Lone Pine Resources, is using investor rights provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to challenge Quebec’s 2011 moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
| 20-Feb-2013
Amidst continuing violence plaguing Balochistan, there is now a cause of joy for the Baloch people and the government.
| 5-Feb-2013
Earlier last month, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry declared null and void the Reko Diq gold and copper mine agreement, the Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement (CHEJVA), with Tethyan Copper Company (TCC).
| 5-Feb-2013
The Supreme Court recently declared void and illegal a mining deal for the Reko Diq copper project signed 20 years ago between the Balochistan government and international mining companies.
| 16-Jan-2013
It is wonderful that the stance of the government of Balochistan has been upheld by the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan. Decision given on 7th January, 2013 by the SC has declared the agreement on Reko Diq signed on July 23, 1993 as void and in conflict with the laws of the country. Tethyan Copper Company Pvt Limited (TCC) also lost its case in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) on December 13, 2012.
| 10-Jan-2013
Spanish power grid operator Red Electrica said on Tuesday it had begun to seek World Bank arbitration over Bolivia’s expropriation of its transmission business TDE.
Public Citizen | 28-Dec-2012
U.S.-based Renco Group Inc. is trying to use the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to evade justice.
| 23-Dec-2012
The World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes has handed down a ruling against the Ecuadorian government, finding that it “unlawfully expropriated” U.S. firm Burlington Resources’ investments in two oil blocks.
| 26-Nov-2012
The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources (MoPNR) has written a letter to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to persuade the Balochistan government to settle the Reko Diq issue out of court, fearing a penalty of Rs39 billion by the International Centre for Settlement Investment Disputes (ICSID).
| 16-Nov-2012
A US-incorporated energy firm, Lone Pine Resources Inc., is taking on Quebec’s stand against fracking, saying it violates the North American free-trade agreement and demanding more than $250-million in compensation.

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