${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}Veron, Bice, Palermo
& Wilson, LLC Land & Soil Contamination : Vehicle Collisions : Personal Injury

Oil lobbyist propose amendments that will delay cleanup of oilfield contamination and allows oil companies to avoid liability


Summary: The amendment to HB 563 directly amends Act 312 by allowing oil companies to admit responsibility for remediation without being held "legally responsible" for the damage, preserves indemnity contracts, places exclusive jurisdiction for all cases in East Baton Rouge Parish, and allows the oil companies to appeal the Office of Conservation (OOC) remediation plan. The amendment enacts a new Mineral Code article that makes "specific performance" the only remedy for damage caused by oil field operations.

Reasons to Oppose this amendment:

1. The amendment delays cleanup. The stated intent of the amendment is to "expedited the remediation of contaminated sites" but instead adds months or years of delay by declaring that the OOC remediation plan is an "adjudication" subject to appellate review. This gives oil companies another chance to appeal the OOC remediation plan. This process will take several months at least, and likely years, before the court adopts a cleanup plan.

2. The amendment allows oil companies to avoid liability. The amendment allows a defendant, along with the current operator, to "admit being the responsible party" for remediation without being held "legally responsible" for the contamination. How can a defendant admit responsibility but not be held legally responsible? This prevents discovery of the full extent of the damage and the extent of the defendant's liability. It will allow a defendant that admits responsibility to refuse to participate in cleanup.

3. The amendment preserves inequitable indemnity contracts. When Big Oil left Louisiana and transferred operations to independents, it required that the smaller independents take over Big Oil's cleanup obligations. The amendment preserves these unfair indemnity contracts even if Big Oil admits responsibility.

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