Oil and gas weighed in after the state legislative auditor released a report concluding that, since Jindal became governor in 2008, the Department of Natural Resources has left close to 3,000 abandoned wells unplugged, spreading pollution and hazard across the state. If DNR’s Office of Conservation doesn’t pull its socks up, the number of so-called “orphans” will continue to rise. A solution will require an increase in the fees oil and gas pays the state, the report concluded.According to leading oil and gas industry lobbyists, Bobby Jindal's Department of Natural Resources is not tough enough on them. That's a sobering enough thought.
Bring it on, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs said in a speech in Lafayette. “Our industry knows orphan wells are a problem. We’re not the ones saying no, we won’t pay more.”
Neither is the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. Its environmental affairs director, Richard Metcalf, said, “We would be willing to sit down and talk” about higher fees.
They should be doubled, according to Briggs, but “we have a state political administration that opposes raising fees or taxes.”
But, hey, if industry leaders feel that strongly about it, they had an opportunity to make their voices heard yesterday in St. Tammany Parish where DNR was hearing public comment on Helis Oil's proposed frack well.
While opponents of a proposed oil well in St. Tammany Parish made their arguments Tuesday before an official of the state’s Department of Natural Resources, several blocks away, a lawsuit seeking to halt the plan, filed Monday by the St. Tammany Parish Council, was winding its way through the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.So they'll beg the state to fine them but they do tend to fall back in line whenever someone is suing to halt their operations. Because the last thing anyone wants is to adhere to local zoning guidelines.
The suit names James Welsh, the state’s commissioner of conservation, as a defendant and asks a state judge to issue an injunction preventing the DNR from issuing a permit that would allow the operator to dig a well and extract oil by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The suit argues that the parish’s zoning laws prohibit drilling a well at the proposed site, and it points to a recent legislative auditor’s report that said the DNR was negligent in overseeing many of Louisiana’s abandoned and inoperative wells.
The proposed well location — in the southeast part of a 960-acre tract north of Interstate 12 and bisected by La. 1088 — is zoned A-3, a designation that requires a “single-family residential environment on moderate-sized lots,” according to the council’s suit. Activities on the land are limited to dwellings and certain “cultural, education, religion and public uses,” the suit says.
Anyway, clearly the well is allowable under these rules. Consider it another shrine to the church of Petrochemical Production.