Jim Hope-Ross, the lawyer for Barbara and Larry Graff and their adult son, Darrell, said he found it "disturbing" that the court considered the Graffs "the authors of their own demise."
"If it's something cumulative, as it is with the Graffs, how can you ever establish that?" he said. "It puts an awfully tough onus on the little guy."
The Graffs didn't want to publicize their health problems, he added, and the regulator could have done more to consider their request for privacy.
But Bob Curran, a spokesman for the Energy Resources Conservation Board, which now handles the oil and gas regulation formerly overseen by the EUB, said anything filed with the regulator has to be made public.
When the family asked for it to be kept private, but didn't file a confidentiality request, that left the regulator to choose protecting the family's privacy over keeping the documents -- leading to staff returning the evidence so that it wasn't part of the case.
"Our hands were tied at that point," he said. "We were put in an untenable position."
Curran said the appeal court's ruling showed the regulator has an appropriate process for people to show their concerns.
Wednesday's decision was mostly rendered moot, however, after EnCana decided to abandon the wells because they weren't producing much gas.
EnCana spokesman Alan Boras said the wells were "test wells," adding the court ruling showed EnCana nevertheless did what was asked of it.
Sour gas leak kills worker: Employee never returned from changing flow meter at remote gas facility (The Edmonton Journal, March 8, 2008, Jennifer Fong).
Edmonton - The death of an oilfield operative from sour gas exposure near Fox Creek has triggered an investigation by police, safety and industry regulatory officials.
The a 46-year-old employee of ELH Enterprises in Whitecourt was working on contract for Calgary-based oil and gas company Orleans Energy when he died on the job Friday afternoon. Colin MacPhail, speaking for Alberta's workplace health and safety program, said the long-time oilpatch worker was working alone, changing a gas-flow measuring device inside Orleans' Kaybob inlet separator gas facility. The facility is in a remote, wooded area 45 kilometres west of Fox Creek in northwestern Alberta. There were high levels of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) present, said RCMP Fox Creek division Const. Dean Purcka.
Orleans Energy president and CEO Barry Olson said in a statement the man was "performing routine operations within the facility." When the oilfield worker failed to check in at 5 p.m., another man was sent to check on him, said MacPhail, who is with Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry. Upon arrival, he found that the hydrogen sulphide alarm system had been set off.
The operative was pronounced dead at the scene.
The oilsands site, leased by Orleans, has been voluntarily shut down. ELH Enterprises declined to comment.
Health Concerns May Spur Hydrogen Sulfide Ruling ( Wall Street Journal, Ilan Brat Thursday,December 13, 2007)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering broadly regulating hydrogen sulfide, a common gas that smells like rotten eggs and has been increasingly linked to a variety of health problems for people living and working near petroleum, confined livestock, paper and landfill operations.
Hydrogen sulfide has long been known to be deadly in high concentrations. However, growing scientific evidence shows the gas may also have health effects at low levels.
The agency is "reviewing existing scientific information to determine whether a listing is justified, and we are conducting our own studies in order to fill data gaps - so that ultimately, we will be able to make a determination," Alison Davis, a spokeswoman for the EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, said in an email statement.
The potential new rule, likely to face stiff opposition from industry, comes at a time when soaring energy prices have encouraged the U.S. energy industry to drill deeper in order to explore hard-to-reach reservoirs - operations that can bring increased hydrogen sulfide emissions. At the same time, health complaints have multiplied in recent years from people living near dumps specializing in construction and demolition debris. These sites have mushroomed in the wake of the national housing boom and a series of devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes.
Hydrogen sulfide is produced when organic material containing sulfur decomposes. It can also be produced from chemical reactions. The gas is readily found in the Earth's crust and in extremely low levels in the atmosphere. In dumps specializing in construction and demolition debris it can be produced when gypsum decomposes.
The gas was once thought to be relatively harmless in low concentrations. Some scientists and federal health investigators say mounting research in recent years shows that prolonged exposure to relatively low levels may affect memory, coordination, eyes and breathing.
However, those researchers caution that more study is needed and note that communities studied are often exposed to several chemical compounds at the same time, clouding the results.
Family allowed to fight sour gas decision (Calgary Herald, January 24, 2007, Renata D'Aliesio)
A southern Alberta family who claims sour gas activity damaged their health has won the right to challenge the provincial energy regulator's approval of a new well near their home. In a provincial Appeal Court judgment Tuesday, Justice Marina Paperny ruled the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board -- the province's energy watchdog -- made a mistake when deciding to discount the Graff family's concerns because they live outside a consultation zone in the Vulcan area. Tuesday's ruling grants the fourth-generation Alberta family the legal right to appeal last year's approval for EnCana Corp. to drill a sour gas well 100 kilometres southeast of Calgary.
"We will endeavour to have concerns about our health heard," said 55-year-old Barbara Graff, who alleges previous activities from other gas companies have left her and her adult son extremely sensitive to low levels of chemicals. "At this point we feel our lives are being threatened."
- Read the Appeals Court decision
Alabama residents suspect health problems to be related to hydrogen sulfide and contaminated water from oil and gas drilling (9CBS 8 TV, Montgomery, AL)
Residents along Old Stage Road in Conecuh County, Alabama, have been experiencing headaches, open sores, miscarriages and other health effects, which they believe are related to air and water contamination.
In March, 2006, an oil and gas company operating in Conecuh County was fined for releasing unpermitted emissions of various compounds including hydrogen sulfide, a potentially deadly gas often associated with oil production in south Alabama. Residents of Old Stage Road have also noticed thick, unidentified foamy substances in water they say is connected to their water wells.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management, while not admitting that contamination of water wells has occurred, has agreed to help get them connected to city water. Sources: Mobile Press Register. March 28, 2006. "ADEM proposed big fine for oil company polluting in Conecuh."
For more information:
 Depending on the jurisdiction, the official definition of sour gas varies. For example, in Canada, the petroleum industry considers natural gas to be sour if it contains more than 1% hydrogen sulfide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers natural gas to be "sour" if hydrogen sulfide is present in amounts greater than 5.7 milligrams per normal cubic meters, which is equivalent to 0.25 grains per 100 standard cubic feet. (Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1995. Petroleum Industry - Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission Factors, Vol. 1, Stationary Point and Area Sources.)
 Chou, S. 2003. Hydrogen Sulfide: Human Health Aspects. Concise International Chemical Assessment Document 53. Prepared for the World Health Organization. p. 6.
 Dalrymple, D.A., Skinner, F.D. and Meserole, N.P. 1991. Investigation of U.S. Natural Gas Reserve Demographics and Gas Treatment Processes. Topical Report, GRI-91/0019, Section 3.0, pp. 3-1 to 3-13. Gas Research Institute. And Hugman, R.H., Springer, P.S. and Vidas, E.H. Chemical Composition of Discovered and Undiscovered Natural Gas in the United States: 1993 update. Topical Report, GRI-93/0456. p. 1-3. Gas Research Institute. In McIntush, K.E., Dalrymple, D.A. and Rueter, C.O. 2001. "New process fills technology gap in removing H2S from gas," World Oil, July, 2001.
 Quinlan, M., 1996. Evaluation of selected emerging sulfur recovery technologies, GRI Gas Tips, 3(1):26-35. In McIntush, K.E., Dalrymple, D.A. and Rueter, C.O. 2001. "New process fills technology gap in removing H2S from gas," World Oil, July, 2001.
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. October 1993. Report to Congress on Hydrogen Sulfide Air Emissions Associated with the Extraction of Oil and Natural Gas. EPA-453/R-93-045, p.III-35.
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. October 1993. Report to Congress on Hydrogen Sulfide Air Emissions Associated with the Extraction of Oil and Natural Gas. EPA-453/R-93-045, p.III-38.
 Cooper, W.J. 1987. "Emissions of biogenic sulfur compounds from several wetland soils in Florida." Atmospheric Environment. 21:1491-1495.
 Fox Creek death prompts investigation, Jennifer Fong , The Edmonton Journal Published: Saturday, March 08, 2008.
- Air Sampling Conducted in Monroe, Conecuh and Escambia Counties, Alabama - An OGAP investigation of hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds near oil and gas production sites. (January, 2007)
- Hydrogen Sulfide, Oil and Gas, and Peoples' Health. (Master's Paper, Lana Skrtic, M.S., University of California at Berkeley)
- Big Oil in Small Town America is a new book that documents a Michigan community's struggle to get oil and gas companies, and various government agencies charged with protecting citizens, to take responsibility for what the citizens claim were illegal emissions of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a toxic by-product of some oil and gas operations. The book's author, Jaime Long, suffered a stroke, which she attributes to oil and gas chemical exposures.