Chris John: Adley bill, compromise efforts good for La.

04 20, 2014 by The Daily Advertiser

Over the last few months, landowners and representatives of the oil and gas industry have worked hard to find an equitable solution that will finally curb the excesses and delays associated with legacy lawsuits.

On March 27, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced at a press conference that a compromise had been reached. I was proud to stand behind the governor, along with representatives of the oil and gas industry, landowners, business and industry and key legislators to showcase our full support.

Jindal, in endorsing the legislation, said, “I think it strikes the right balance. It protects the interests of our landowners. It protects our environmental interests in our state, while at the same time ensures that industry is not being exposed to frivolous, overly expensive litigation that is unrelated to the merit.”

Our working group strived to make sure all sides were represented in the compromise and we feel confident that goal was accomplished.

This isn’t the first time we thought a settlement on this issue had been reached only to discover that was not the case later. How is this different? The compromise was introduced as legislation, authored by Sen. Robert Adley, to specifically define what plaintiffs can be entitled to if damage is proven:

  • The cost of the feasible remediation plan developed by the state.
  • Cost to remediate beyond the feasible plan when the contract clearly expresses such.
  • Cost to remediate environmental damage as a result of unreasonable or excessive operations.
  • Non-remediation damages.

And finally, it holds the plaintiff accountable for a defendant’s attorney fees in the event the defendant is dismissed from the trial.

This is the first step of a long process. In order to see this through completion, the bill will have to pass in the Senate, House of Representatives and require the signature of the governor.

We achieved our first initiative in passing it out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. We will remain diligent in ensuring the bill’s passage, along with LABI, LOGA, the Louisiana Landowners Association and individual landowners and oil and gas companies.

I again want to thank the participants involved in this process. It was a good faith effort with plenty of bumps along the way.

But the stakeholders, representing the various interests impacted by this litigation, never lost sight of one common belief: the importance of timely clean up in areas that demand it. It is my hope this effort solves the issue and will close the book on this messy period for Louisiana and allow us to focus on a brighter tomorrow.