In a jaw-dropping decision, the Louisiana House recently sided with the oil and gas industry over landowners in an ongoing dispute on how to clean up the damage caused by drilling.
As reported in the Huffington Post, New Orleans Rep. Neil Abramson’s proposal would change the legal process for dealing with “legacy lawsuits.” The bill was overwhelmingly passed 82-19. The key piece of the proposal is that cleanup plans created by the Department of Natural Resources would be admissible as evidence in a lawsuit looking to obtain more damage claims.
Opponents of the bill claim that the oil and gas industry already has far too much power over the Department of Natural Resources and could possibly pressure the agency to drastically cut damage estimates.
Legacy lawsuits are sometimes the only way to get the damages due to landowners when gas or oil drilling causes exceedingly harmful environmental damage like groundwater contamination, for instance. Rep. John Bel Edwards explained this measure would also limit a judge’s discretion on evidence that should be allowed into a trial.
The oil and gas industry claims that these lawsuits are hampering Louisiana by not allowing for more drilling. In addition, the industry blames the lawyers saying that they are just dragging out the judicial process in the hopes of getting their plaintiff more money.
Surprisingly, the normally extremely pro-oil Governor Bobby Jindal has not yet taken a position on this bill. Supporters of the bill such as US Senator David Vitter have asked for Governor Jindal to weigh in on the issue in the hopes of hastening the ultimate decision. It also does bear mentioning that the bill introducer Rep. Abramson was recently handed an ethics complaint by an attorney representing the landowners because Abramson’s law firm represents oil and gas companies.
Yeah, didn’t think so.
Local Bureacrats Choose Big Oil over their own Residents originally appeared in Green Chip Stocks. Green Chip Review is a free 2x-per-week newsletter, is the first advisory to focus exclusively on investments in alternative and renewable energies.