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 challenged this General Permit. In a May 2010 decision, the state district court upheld the permit. However, in a ruling dated June 10, 2011, the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal remanded the permit to DEQ for further proceedings.  In a Notice published in the Potpourri Section of the Louisiana Register on October 20, 2011, DEQ said it would be modifying the General Permit to remove produced water discharges from coverage under the permit.  Facilities wishing to discharge produced water within the territorial seas of Louisiana now must seek authorization to do so under an individual permit.  In addition, facilities discharging produced water currently covered by the General Permit must file the O and G-IND permit application for an individual permit no later than April 1, 2012.  The notice states that “the individual permit will require an evaluation of the effects of produced water discharges on the environment and human health.”  DEQ further said that “the regulated community will be responsible for providing information that will be utilized to determine whether authorization to discharge produced water in the territorial seas will be granted.”