${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}Veron, Bice, Palermo
& Wilson, LLC
337-513-4436

Oil Companies Amendments to HB 563 make bad policy

This amendment creates a special exception for property damage caused by oil companies as opposed to everyone else. If this passes, oil companies will be the only parties in Louisiana who can damage other people's property and not be responsible.

The "specific performance" remedy is disfavored in the law because it is ineffective. The traditional, time-honored remedy of damages has been part of Anglo-American and civil law for centuries for a reason: It creates an incentive for parties to behave properly. Under this amendment, a landowner cannot obtain damages no matter how badly his property is polluted. He is limited to going to court to obtain an order telling an oil company to do what it has already refused to do (i.e., clean up its mess). What is the point of that?

The legislature should not amend any part of the Mineral Code that without first going through the Louisiana Law Institute. The Law Institute is composed of leading scholars, judges, and lawyers from all sides of the state. The Law Institute studied our mineral law for ten years (from 1964 to 1974) and drafted a coherent, state of the art code that has stood the test of time and should not be amended in a piecemeal fashion. The Law Institute will give any proposal for amendment full and fair consideration.

This amendment gives oil companies immunity for any oilfield contamination. It is a license to pollute. Without consequences, the already-bad contamination problem in Louisiana will get far much worse. This amendment is like expecting everyone to obey the speed limit after you pull all state troopers off the Interstate.

The amendment makes litigation too costly and ineffective for landowners. Landowners will have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars-or more-out of their pockets just to get an order telling the oil company to clean up its mess. That is precisely what the oil industry wants, because only the wealthiest landowners can even consider doing that. This means that none of the oil companies will clean up their messes. They should be ashamed to ask for this.

There is NO connection between laws prohibiting contamination and the state of the economy (good or bad) in Louisiana. Drilling permits doubled in Louisiana within two years after the Corbello decision! Anyone who thinks that they make decisions about where to drill for oil and gas are influenced by the law obviously doesn't know how oil companies operate.

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