A billowing sigh of relief was heard from oil and gas companies all across Louisiana, and with that sigh, came a little boost of confidence. On Friday, the United States 5th District Court of Appeals affirmed a lower-court's dismissal of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority’s East (SLFPAE) lawsuit against nearly 100 oil and gas companies. In June of 2013, the Flood Protection Authority filed a lawsuit
against oil and gas companies claiming that years of oil and gas exploration and production activity had damaged coastal wetlands and that this activity threatened the integrity of hurricane levees. This lawsuit is merely one example where the oil and gas industry is being targeted with unnecessary and costly lawsuits.
One of the often spoken mistruths by these attorneys is that the industry is not properly regulated, but according to George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, the oil and gas industry is one of the most regulated industries in all of the United States, with Louisiana standing on top as the most regulated state.
Their research shows that oil and gas companies must navigate nearly 12,000 federal regulations plus the numerous restrictions placed upon these companies by their respective states.
What we should be concerned about are the effects that fallacious litigation is having on our state. While the United States experiences a 50 percent increase in rig counts, Louisiana continues to see historically low numbers. Lawsuits like these and many others have closed the door on new investment and are stifling the growth of our state’s economy.
It is difficult to believe that an oil and gas company would decide to lay roots in Louisiana, knowing that 20 years down the road they could be sued for millions while following the laws and being a good partner with both the state and local communities. These frivolous lawsuits have contributed to the loss of 30,000
oil and gas jobs, $1.5 billion in lost wages, and worse, have turned Louisiana into the number one “judicial hellhole” in the country, according to a litigation watchdog group. This is not how we want businesses, industry, and future families to see our beloved state.
Historically, the oil and gas industry has always been a steady economic driver for Louisiana. The industry is one of the largest job producers in the state, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Local and parish governments receive more than $1 million per day in taxes paid by oil and gas companies that they can then turn around and use for infrastructure, education, and health care. Nearly 15 percent, or $2.5 billion, of the state's total taxes, licenses, and fees collected from oil and gas companies are used to bolster the state's coffers with many of them going to fund vital parts of state government.
Louisiana’s health and the protection of its people have and will always remain a top priority for Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. The people who run and work in these companies are a part of the community. Not only is coastal Louisiana their livelihood, but it is also the place where they raise their families and enjoy the sportsman’s paradise. One such example of the industry’s commitment to our communities and the environment is Apache Corporation, who donated 1.7 million trees across the coast of Louisiana. This year they will receive the Governor’s State Conservation Achievement Recognition Program.
In times of natural disaster, the oil and gas industry has always had Louisiana’s back. In 2005 when Katrina ravaged communities in South Louisiana, oil and gas companies united their time and resources to aid in the recovery. The industry raised over $1 million, supplying generators and clothing in Bogalusa, housing for victims, providing fuel to the Bogalusa Medical Center, and schooling funds for displaced
children from New Orleans. Most recently, the industry dispensed nearly $40,000 to families and individuals who were affected by last summer’s flooding.
It is clear that Louisiana’s oil and gas industry is a great friend to the state. This industry has the ability to assist in pulling us out of the budgetary issues we now face and the capacity to pull families together during times of crises and natural disaster. We are proud to call Louisiana home, and we will continue to fight for the success of our industry as well as the great people of Louisiana.