Last Modified: Thursday, July 05, 2012 6:38 PM
The Bayou State is well-known as the oil and gas hub of our country.
Fifty percent of the gasoline and diesel fuel that drives the engines of our country flows through Louisiana. North Louisiana is the home to a major natural gas field — the Haynesville Shale — and about 30 percent of the nation’s crude oil is produced off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. An LSU report estimates the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale, which stretches through the midsection of Louisiana, contains 7 million barrels of oil.
Locally, Sempra is developing a $6 billion liquefied natural gas export facility at its existing Cameron LNG receiving terminal in Hackberry and Sasol is investing $4.5 billion in an ethylene plant in Westlake that could produce more than 1 million tons of product a year.
Due to new detection and drilling techniques, Louisiana is in the midst of an oil and gas industry boom that is producing more than 100,000 new jobs and unprecedented profits.
Despite each parish’s prosperous bounty, local regulation of the industry is largely determined by state law.
The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources is charged with regulating all oil and gas activity in the state with the department’s Office of Conservation having sole authority to issue permits. In fact, state law specifically forbids any other agency or government “to prohibit or in any way interfere with” drilling authorized by the state. The Louisiana Supreme Court also has described the authority of the Louisiana Office of Conservation as near-absolute.
“Parishes do have the ability to regulate other issues peripheral to the drilling,” Bossier Parish attorney Patrick Jackson told The Advocate newspaper.
He said his parish has enacted ordinances regulating noise, lighting, signs, fencing and vibration, dust and weight restrictions for roads and bridges.
But if a parish has concerns about fracking, well, that’s to be taken up with the state.
In hydraulic fracturing, chemicals, water and sand are injected into the ground under enormous pressure, cracking the rock and propping it open. The oil or natural gas escapes from those openings into oil company pipelines.
In extreme cases, fracking can create tremors or hit a line in a parish’s water system.
Parishes should have a larger say in drilling practices within their borders because any missteps by the oil and gas companies hurts their people. Parishes should have a say in who’s drilling, who’s responsible for the fracking, what chemicals are going to be used at the site or in the ground, where the water would be coming from and what’s going to happen to the produced water after the drilling process is complete.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
Posted By: Belle On: 7/7/2012
Title: Where are the TAX dollars for the People of Louisiana
We are poor our schools are falling apart, roads need work, unacceptable poverty rates. WHY Because Louisiana sells out at the stae level with Tax Exeptions for these Oil theifs. We will be left with the toxic sludge and more Cancer but who cares the Oil Company made Billions and few workers paid thier bills. The State will make sure the Industry does anything it wants to this desperate state.
Posted By: Kyle L. On: 7/6/2012
Title: No they should not
State regulation is the proper place for drilling regulation. Having 50 different jurisdictions manage drilling would create total chaos and grind activity to a halt with local police jurys looking for handouts (above and below the table) and supprting the NIMBY metality. Leave it to the states where they understand the issues and can manage across an industry. If you have a local problem, work with the DEQ and your state legislature.