BATON ROUGE – A district court judge has dismissed several lawsuits filed against the oil and gas industry in southern Louisiana that regarded permit violations under the Coastal Zone Management Act.
This series of lawsuits was filed by Jefferson Parish, naming several oil and gas companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The lawsuit states the companies involved in the suit have permit violations in accordance with the Coastal Zone Management Act.
Judge Stephen Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court dismissed the cases stating the plaintiffs failed to go through the correct administrative process to review the permits before alleging that violations had occurred.
The dismissal is a big move forward for the oil and gas industry that also has several pending lawsuits with Plaquemines, Cameron and Vermilion parishes.
“We’re certainly pleased with the decision to dismiss the lawsuits,” Chris John, president at the Louisiana Midcontinent Oil and Gas Association, told the Louisiana Record. “It really just verifies what we as an industry have said from the very beginning from when these suits were filed that there is a regulatory remedy for problems that deal with permits and issues that arose during those suits.”
The administrative review process is handled by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and with measures in place to ensure that each permit in compliance.
“It’s an administrative process,” Don Briggs, president at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, told the Louisiana Record. “They need to follow that and go through the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources through the Coastal Zone Management Division. If there’s a complaint, then they need to go through that process and file it through them and see if in fact there is a violation of that permit. It’s simple.”
The permits in question date back at least 50 to 60 years and require the permit holder to adhere to standards set by the state and federal government.
“The oil and gas industry goes through lots of money and research to be able to be granted these permits,” John said. “All these permits have parameters, location, depth, size, environmental cleanup and restoration.”
The plaintiffs in this case and the remaining lawsuits haven’t gone through the official review process of the permits, instead filing a blanket lawsuit that alleges the defendants have violated their permits and created coastal erosion in the gulf.