Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Oil & gas law litigation is not helpful, industry spokesman says

Louisiana is a state that depends on the oil and gas production industry for a substantial number of private sector jobs and revenue. The ongoing litigation battles between environmental groups and the industry are therefore particularly critical to the public interest. One of the claims by objectors is that the oil & gas law of the state is being manipulated by the industry to misuse state permits and to cut corners that have resulted in coastal erosion, among other things.

The courts are busy with a flow of cases dealing with these and similar disputes. One spokesperson for the industry, the President of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, has spoken out to criticize the flood of litigation and to express his opinion that the cases are based on assumptions and not facts. Don Briggs states that the industry is under the "stringent regulation" of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Briggs asserts that each permit must be verified by the state regulatory agency to be in compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act. The implication is that the layers of enforcement make the lawsuits unnecessary. More than that, he believes they are motivated not by environmental concerns but by monetary avarice.

He suggests that the true resolution of the oil & gas law litigation over coastal degradation will not be achieved through litigation. He says that the solution will be achieved when all of the interested players sit down in a collaborative effort to negotiate resolutions. This would include the state, the federal agencies involved, the Corps of Engineers and the other stakeholders. The others would presumably include the oil & gas industry and the various public interest groups seeking relief. The current pattern of litigation, however, is not about to end abruptly or anytime soon, considering the complexity of the cases, the large number of interests represented and the extended time periods for resolving such matters.  

Source: louisianarecord.com, "Briggs: Coastal litigation tactics unnecesary", Kerrie Hatcher, June 18, 2016

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