The 90-day 2012 Louisiana legislative session has come to a close. While most sessions have their ups and downs, this particular session was an all-out battle for the oil and gas industry. Several pieces of legislation were filed that would have been injurious to the industry, and numerous other bills were filed that would benefit the industry and offer new ideas of how to better the future of oil and gas in Louisiana. Overall, the bad bills were killed and the good bills were passed, and the oil and gas industry is pleased at the outcome.
Specifically, the oil and gas industry was able to work with the necessary legislators and stakeholders to pass two bills designed to reduce the backlog of the so-called “legacy lawsuits” and speed up remediation of landowners’ properties. House Bill 618 by Rep. Neal Abramson and Senate Bill 555 by Sen. Robert Adley have now passed out of both chambers and are on their way to the governor’s desk for his signature. State Representative Gordon Dove (R-Houma) was recently quoted in reference to the new legislation as saying, “It allows oil companies to take responsibility for the environmental portion of the site only, clean it up and have that admissible in court.” The Legacy issue has caused, according to a report released by the LSU Center for Energy Studies, the loss of nearly 1,200 new wells in Louisiana, translating to an astonishing $6.8 billion dollars in lost drilling investments, and the forfeiture of over 30,000 jobs.
Also an ultra-deep units bill, HB 504, passed allowing the Department of Natural Resources to consolidate leased lands so operational costs for ultra-deep drilling exceeding 22,000 feet could be shared. This bill enhances drilling in the southern portion of the state of Louisiana allowing for new economic development to take place. Not only will this bill help bring about new jobs directly tied to the drilling itself, but it creates a ripple effect for that region adding jobs to industries such as the hotel, restaurant and transportation sectors.
Other positive pieces of legislation were passed pertaining to hydraulic fracturing, water usage, coastal restoration and alternative fuel for vehicles. Individually, these bills each touch the process of how oil and gas companies conduct their day-to-day activities. If
regulations are set at appropriate levels, the oil and gas industry is able to focus on exploration and production and not be bogged down by the red tape of laws that only hinder operations. When the industry is able to work with the legislators and come to peaceful compromise, we get the opportunity to see our democracy at work.
While this session brought about countless conversations, negotiations, and compromise, the end result was positive for the oil and gas industry.
The next step in the process is for the necessary bills to be signed into law, and the industry move forward in a positive direction, not only for oil and gas, but also for the entire state of Louisiana.
Don Briggs is president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA).