UPDATE: Vermilion Parish Police Jury Votes 13-0 To Drop Lawsuit
At a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, the Vermilion Parish Police Jury approved a resolution requesting the recent lawsuit against the oil and gas industry be dropped. A source at the meeting says the vote was 13-0 requesting that 15th Judicial District Attorney Keith Stutes drops the lawsuit he filed on behalf of the parish last week. The suit, which names 45 oil and gas companies as defendants, seeks to collect for environment damage in the parish.
The District Attorney's Office has released this press release about the suit:
DA FILES VERMILION SUIT SEEKING DAMAGES AND RESTORATION AS RESULT OF MARSH EROSION, SALTWATER INTRUSION, RADIOACTIVE WATER RELEASE AND INCREASE IN FLOODING ABBEVILLE-
The District Attorney for the 15th Judicial District, Keith Stutes, has announced the filing of major litigation to recover for damages, restoration costs and actual restoration as a result of oil and gas exploration, production and transportation operations in Vermilion Parish which have “caused substantial damages to land and water bodies, geological formations, and cultural and economic opportunities in violation of Louisiana state law, rules and regulations.”
The 15th Judicial District includes Acadia, Lafayette and Vermilion parishes.
The action by Stutes makes Vermilion Parish one of six Louisiana coastal parishes filing such claims. The others are Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Lafourche and Cameron parishes.
The Louisiana legislature established a statutory standard for protecting the coast of Louisiana with the passage of the Coastal Zone Management Law in 1978. Prior to the passage of this legislation, various rules, regulations, field orders and orders by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and the Louisiana Stream Control Commission were required to be followed by those in oil and gas exploration, production and transportation activities.
Under the 1978 law, parishes in the Coastal Zone Management Area could also establish local Coastal Zone Management plans. Vermilion chose not to do so, and, when parishes do not have a local plan, the 1978 law designates the local District Attorney as the public official who is obligated to pursue recovery of damages that occur in the coastal zone for violations of the law.
“While we all recognize the tremendous impact oil and gas activities have had on our local economy, every person who has ever fished, hunted and enjoyed the natural beauty of Vermilion Parish is aware of the environmental issues caused by oil and gas activities,” Stutes said.
“The cleanup and restoration of these damages will create new and enormous economic and employment opportunities for the people of Vermilion Parish…restoring our coast and environment is an important economic impetus for our citizens,” Stutes continued. “Moreover, as District Attorney, it is my fiduciary responsibility to see to it this law is enforced uniformly and the law is made to work with no show of favoritism,” Stutes continued.
“The message is simple: clean up the mess that you have made and restore our coast to its original condition,” Stutes concluded.
The Vermilion lawsuit contends the named defendants did not comply with the law and/or rules and orders resulting in identifiable, specific, and substantial harm and that the defendants failed to comply with permits the defendants obtained to engage in coastal activities or failed to obtain coastal permits at all. In all instances, it is contended the defendants failed to revegetate, refill, clean and detoxify and restore the impacted area to its original condition as required by state law.
The Vermilion lawsuit names the following as defendants: AMERICAN TRADING AND PRODUCTION CORPORATION APACHE CORPORATION BASF CORPORATION BAY COQUILLE, INC. BP AMERICA PRODUCTION COMPANY BRAMMER ENGINEERING, INC. CAMEX OPERATING COMPANY CAMEX, INC. CASTEX ENERGY, INC. CENTURY EXPLORATION NEW ORLEANS, LLC COLUMBIA GULF TRANSMISSION, LLC CONLEY P. SMITH OPERATING COMPANY CONLEY P. SMITH, LLC CONOCOPHILLIPS COMPANY ENABLE OKLAHOMA INTRASTATE TRANSMISSION, LLC ENERGEN RESOURCES CORPORATION ENERGYQUEST II, LLC EP ENERGY E&P COMPANY, L.P. EXCHANGE OIL & GAS CORPORATION EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION FREEPORT -MCMORAN OIL & GAS L.L.C. GRAHAM ROYALTY, LTD. GULFPORT ENERGY CORPORATION HESS CORPORATION HILCORP ENERGY COMPANY JANEX OIL CO., INC. LATEX -STAR, INC. LLOG EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION COMPANY, L.L.C. MANTI EXPORATION OPERATING, LLC MCMORAN OIL & GAS LLC MOBIL OIL EXPLORATION & PRODUCING SOUTHEAST INC. MOSBACHER ENERGY COMPANY NOBLE ENERGY, INC. PACIFIC ENTERPRISES OIL COMPANY PETROHAWK ENERGY CORPORATION PETRO -HUNT, L.L.C. PIONEER NATURAL RESOURCES USA, INC. QUEST EXPLORATION L.C.C. SAMSON CONTOUR ENERGY E&P, LLC SAMSON RESOURCES COMPANY SHELL OFFSHORE, INC. SHELL OIL COMPANY SHORELINE SOUTHEAST LLC SWEPI LP TENNESSEE GAS PIPELINE COMPANY, L.L.C. TEXAS PETROLEUM INVESTMENT COMPANY THE LOUISIANA LAND AND EXPLORATION COMPANY, L.L.C. THE MERIDIAN RESOURCE & EXPLORATION LLC UNION OIL COMPANY OF CALIFORNIA 3 Richard Broussard,
Gifford Briggs, Vice-President of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, posted this reaction to Facebook as soon as the news broke:
You can listen to his reaction below: