The large anti-fracking crowd stood up in a cheers as the St. Tammany Parish Council unanimously approved a resolution by Councilman Marty Gould of District 5 that will seek a judicial injunction which will prohibit the issuance of any drilling permits in St. Tammany Parish.
The resolution states that the Parish Council will hire outside legal counsel to fight the hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, proposal being pushed by Helis Oil and Gas, which would drill 13,400 feet into the ground on a piece of land around the Mandeville area.
At the meeting, almost all of the residents who spoke out against the fracking proposal told the Parish Council that the resolution did not go far enough, saying that an all-out ban on fracking in St. Tammany Parish needs to be a top priority for the council.
After hearing from the public, Gould told outside legal counsel (Guice Giambronne III and Aldric C. Poirier Jr. with Blue Williams LLP), that will help fight the proposal, that a fracking ban needs to be reviewed and taken into account as an option for the parish, though parish officials are still largely unclear on how much power they have over the initiative by Helis.
Gould cited a report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor which found “marked deficiencies” in the Office of Conservation’s oversight of drilling operations around the state. The Office of Conservation is under the Department of Natural Resources, which is the permitting agency for drilling operations.
The anti-frackers also won with two other resolutions by the Parish Council.
Councilman Jake Groby of District 7 proposed the unanimously approved resolution that will request that the St. Tammany Parish Department of Environmental Services develop a protocol for the establishment of baseline testing for potable water utilizing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing methods and certify labs for potable water testing in order to provide potable water certification.
Another unanimously approved resolution by Groby, will ask the Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh to consider delaying a decision on the issuance of any permits relative to fracking in the parish.
Though believed to be one of the most conservative parishes in the state of Louisiana, residents in Mandeville and the Lacombe area have been adamant in their opposition of fracking throughout the parish. To date, there have been numerous events and protests where fracking has been condemned/criticized by local environmentalists and parish officials, particularly Groby and Parish Councilwoman Maureen O’Brien of District 10.