BATON ROUGE – Tension surrounding the legacy lawsuit reform debate has eased as both sides of the argument appear to be negotiating.
Sources close to the situation say a compromise is being sought between landowners, their trial attorney representatives and energy producers.
Only a week ago it seemed energy producers had the upper hand after they received overwhelming support when energy producer-backed HB618 passed in the House. However, little has happened since then. HB618 has been in limbo after still not being assigned to a committee by Senate President John Alario, R–Westwego.
Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, said last week that the energy industry can only go so far towards compromise, but that the reforms included in HB618 cannot be weakened.
That bill would allow for a environmental remediation plan to be developed by the Department of Natural Resources, which would be then entered as evidence in the course of litigation. The reform is seen as a move towards ensuring those who claim their land has been polluted by past drilling activities is actually polluted and that awards in those cases are limited to the cost of cleaning up the pollution.
Any compromise would have to wrapped up by the end of the session on June 4.