Opinion Piece by Michael Veron: Setting the record straight

On behalf of Rock Palermo of Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC posted in Oil and Gas on Dec 8, 2011.

I read with interest the letter from Don Briggs of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, which made the ludicrous claim that oil companies are not drilling in Vermilion Parish because the school board there had sued for the contamination of its property from oilfield operations. That letter contained so many false assertions that I had to reply.

Briggs and other industry propagandists have repeatedly claimed that the 2003 Corbello decision, in which the Louisiana Supreme Court recognized that Louisiana landowners have the right to sue oil companies for contaminating their land, has "chilled" oil and gas exploration in the state. I represented the landowners in Corbello, and I can personally attest that this claim is unquestionably false.

Public records with the Office of Conservation show that the number of drilling permits issued in the state doubled in the two years after the Corbello decision. In other words, there were twice as many oil wells drilled in the state after the Corbello decision as there were before.

Moreover, at the 2010 LSU Mineral Law Institute, Commissioner of Conservation Scott Angelle bragged that the state has been setting records for drilling permits year after year. This means that there is more drilling for oil and gas in Louisiana now than ever.

These statistics utterly contradict the oil industry propaganda and expose it for what it is-a false alarm to persuade the public to give oil companies special immunity for contaminating Louisiana soil and water.

The truth is that the oil companies are actively pursuing the Haynesville Shale in North Louisiana at this very moment. And the truth is that holding oil companies responsible for their contamination is good for Louisiana because it motivates them to run clean operations.

Mr. Briggs would have people believe that Louisiana must choose between oil and gas or a clean environment. That is simply not true. Responsible oilfield operators will tell you that it is not necessary to contaminate in order to produce oil and gas. Indeed, it has never been necessary to ruin our soil and water in order to produce oil and gas. But Briggs and his fellow travelers continually try to influence Louisiana citizens with veiled threats that oil and gas jobs will dry up if they have to clean up the messes they make.

Louisiana first passed laws against oilfield waste in 1906. Over one hundred years later, the oil industry is still fighting the state's attempts to preserve our irreplaceable ecology in order to line its pockets with even greater oil and gas profits. Apparently, the record profits they have been reporting are not enough, and they want more at our expense.

Tags: Oil and Gas

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