Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Oil and Gas Lawsuits

Yesterday, amid all the other news, we learned the details of a settlement between the Southeast Lousiana Flood Protection Authority East and two oil companies named in its much talked about and kicked around lawsuit for coastal damage. Here's more from Clancy DuBos.
Two privately held Texas oil companies that were among nearly 90 defendants named in the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s (SLFPA-E) landmark environmental lawsuit have settled with the flood authority for a combined total of $50,000 in damages, according to documents filed in federal court and statements by the attorneys involved.

The terms of the settlement were announced a few hours after attorneys for SLFPA-E, White Oak Operating Co., L.L.C. and Chroma Operating, Inc. filed a “Joint Motion for Order of Dismissal With Prejudice” in federal court on Thursday. Parties typically file joint motions to dismiss when they have reached an out-of-court settlement. Because the SLFPA-E is a public entity, the terms of the settlement had to be made public.

While the dollar amount of the settlement seems small at first glance, the fact that two oil companies have admitted responsibility for increased public exposure to hurricane-related flooding due to their operations in coastal wetlands — and agreed to pay damages — is huge. The settlement marks the first time an admission of this kind, along with payment of damages, has ever been made by energy companies.
Even the small.. call it a moral.. victory won there could never have happened had Bobby Jindal and the man he put in charge of Louisiana's coastal restoration effort, congressional candidate Garret Graves,  gotten their way.
At a minimum, the decision by some energy defendants to settle with SLFPA-E completely undercuts, if not outright disproves, the “frivolous lawsuit” meme that Gov. Bobby Jindal, former coastal “czar” Garret Graves (who is now a candidate for Congress in the 6th District) and legislative foes of the lawsuit have parroted ever since the suit was filed in July 2013. If the suit were truly “frivolous,” as Jindal continues to claim, defendants in the energy industry (who are accustomed to environmental litigation) would not have settled — particularly when a lawsuit breaks new legal and environmental ground, as the SLFPA-E suit clearly does.
This morning Graves finds himself in a runoff with former Governor Edwin Edwards. Edwards has crawfished a little on the lawsuit himself; at times appearing to support it and at others speaking more vaguely about "finding the parties responsible" for coastal erosion and holding them accountable.  But it's Graves who has stayed in lock step with Bobby Jindal as a critic of the "frivolous" lawsuit.  I don't think either has been asked to comment on this settlement just yet.

Meanwhile, speaking of "frivolous" Oil and Gas lawsuits, check this one out.
FORT WORTH, Texas — A North Texas city that sits atop a natural gas reserve is preparing for an extended court battle after voters made it the first in the state to ban further hydraulic fracturing — a fight that cities nationwide considering similar laws will likely be watching closely.

An industry group and the state's little-known but powerful General Land Office responded quickly to the measure Denton approved Tuesday night, seeking an injunction in District Court to stop it from being enforced.
See, it's frivolous when we (meaning our public bodies) sue them. But they, apparently can sue the hell out of us whenever we sneeze on them.. or spit up blood or whatever it is you do after drinking frack-tainted water.   That's what this guy thinks, anyway.
Battling the fracking ban will be Texas Land Commissioner-elect George P. Bush's first fight. The founding manager of an energy and infrastructure consultancy, Bush promoted the economic benefits of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, throughout his campaign.
Oh yee-haw the Daddy party really is back.  

1 comment:

Jubilation T. Cornpone said...

I think they are suing the city of Denton because Texas state law allows for hydraulic fracturing. A city or county cannot pass a law that contradicts state law. State law is supreme, analogous to the Supremacy Clause in the US Constitution. This has also happened in Colorado. The cities or counties lost the legal argument.