Coastal/Wetlands Issues

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By Tyler Moore Kostal

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit that the New York Times referred to as “The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever” on February 13, 2015, with a finding that the plaintiffs did not state a viable claim for relief.

The Board of Commissioners of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (“SLFPA-E” or

By Claire Juneau

After the 2003 Corbello decision, the Louisiana legislature attempted to enact a workable procedure for recovering environmental damages arising from oil and gas operations known as Act 312. The main goal of Act 312 was to ensure that property contaminated by oilfield operations would be cleaned up to applicable regulatory standards. Since the enactment of Act 312, very few cases have made it through the Act 312 process. Thus, in an attempt to expedite the identification and remediation of contaminated property, the Louisiana legislature recently passed two new measures revising the Act 312 procedure.

Summary of the New Legislation

The first measure (a House bill enacted as Act 754) amends the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure to provide for:

  • The issuance of an environmental management order (EMO) to expedite site inspections and sampling, and
  • A limited admission of environmental liability that allows defendants to begin to remediate property before trial (limited to the most feasible plan to remediate the property).

The second measure (a Senate bill enacted as Act 779) provides for a number of amendments to Act 312:

  • Allows a plaintiff to provide a notice of intent to investigate potential environmental damage that suspends prescription of the claim for one year upon the notice being provided to LDNR,
  • Requires the plaintiff to identify the alleged environmental damage and the results of any environmental testing if a lawsuit is filed after a notice of intent to investigate is filed,
  • Permits a defendant to request an early preliminary hearing to determine whether there is good cause for it to remain a defendant in the case,
  • Grants subpoena power over agency personnel involved in developing the feasible plan and allows for discovery regarding the development of the plan after a final plan has been submitted,
  • Prohibits ex parte communications with agencies, officials, and contractors who are involved in formulating the feasible plan,
  • Requires the Departments of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources, along with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), to comment if LDNR approves or structures a preliminary plan that applies regulations other than those of LDNR, and
  • Provides for a waiver of indemnity rights against punitive damages caused by a party who admits limited liability.
     


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By Lou Grossman

The Subsequent Purchaser Doctrine is a judicially created limitation on the rights of a current landowner to sue for pre-acquisition damages. For over 160 years, Louisiana courts have held that a current landowner has no right of action to sue for damages to his/her property occurring prior to the date of sale

By Lee Vail

On October 15, 2010, the former Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (“BOEMRE”) issued new regulations, incorporating in its entirety and making mandatory the implementation of the American Petroleum Institute’s Recommended Practice 75 (API RP 75).  The rule requires development of Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) plans by “a lessee, the owner or holder of operating rights, a designated operator or agent of the lessee(s), a pipeline right-of-way holder, or a state lessee granted a right-of-use and easement.” 30 C.F.R § 250.105. According to BOEMRE, “the purpose of SEMS is to enhance the safety and cleanliness of operations by reducing the frequency and severity of accidents.” This final rule applies to all Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas and sulphur operations and the facilities under BOEMRE jurisdiction including drilling, production, construction, well workover, well completion, well servicing, and DOI pipeline activities.

Responsibility for developing and implementing a SEMS program lies with the lessee (or owner or holder of an operating right), unless it delegates the responsibility to another (likely the operator). Contractors are not responsible for developing the plan; however if compliant, contractor procedures may be incorporated into the lessee’s/operator’s SEMS plan.
 


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By Esteban Herrera and Dwayne Johnson

On October 14, 2009, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued General Permit No. LAG260000 for discharges within the territorial seas of Louisiana from oil and gas exploration, development, and production facilities.

In a lawsuit filed in state district court in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network

By R. Lee Vail and Maureen N. Harbourt

On July 15, 2011, the House of Representative, Committee on Energy and Power, Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce held hearings on a draft of the “Pipeline Infrastructure and Community Protection Act of 2011.”  Chairman Fred Upton’s initial comments focused on recent pipeline incidents: the 20,000 barrel oil

By R. Lee Vail

In response to the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Incident, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”), Office of Conservation (“Conservation”) issued a series of emergency rules with effective dates: July 15, 2010(1) , December 9, 2010(2), January 12, 2011(3) and most recently May 12, 2011(4).  

By R. Lee Vail

On April 28, 2011, Governor Bobby Jindal declared a State of Emergency as a result of growing concern over the predicted crest of the Mississippi River well above flood stage in many areas. Consistent with his authority, on May 13, 2011, James Welsh, Commissioner of Conservation, also issued an emergency and

By Len Kilgore and Esteban Herrera

In the January 20, 2010 Louisiana Register, the Office of Conservation, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources issued a Notice of Intent to amend Statewide Order 29-B to incorporate new rules for the evaluation and remediation of groundwater conditions at exploration and production sites.

The proposed rules can be found

by Erich P. Rapp

The New Orleans Times Picayune posted a story to their web site on July 3, 2007 at 7:45 PM stating that the Corps of Engineers has formally recommended to Congress that the Mississippi River – Gulf Outlet ("MR-GO") be closed. MR-GO is a 60 mile long shipping channel running from the Louisiana coast to the Industrial Canal in New Orleans. Construction on MR-GO started in 1958 and was completed in 1968. The canal was designed to be 36 feet deep and 500 feet wide.


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