Council tables proposed oil permits

05 16, 2012 by The Advocate

The Tangipahoa Parish Council declined to adopt a proposed ordinance that would have regulated and required a permit for companies to drill for oil and gas in the parish.

The proposal, “An Ordinance to Regulate Oil, Natural Gas, Salt, Sulphur and Other Sub-Surface Minerals Exploration, Development and Production,” was spurred by an increase in drilling activity and expected activity in the portion of the Tuscaloosa Trend that lies under the parish.

At a public hearing prior to the council meeting Monday night, Lauren Estopinal, an attorney representing the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, asked the council to delay making a decision on the ordinance until association representatives and drilling firms had an opportunity to meet with council members and discuss some changes to the measure.

Estopinal contended that the state has regulatory control over oil and gas drilling and the Tangipahoa Parish proposal was duplicative and in many cases unnecessary.

She also objected to the $2,000 permit per well fee that would have been levied on drillers had the matter passed.

Council President Carlo Bruno sparred with Estopinal, saying the council needed to act on the matter to protect aquifers and infrastructure. He called the proposed ordinance “simple and straightforward” and said he doubted that it would hinder oil and gas well development.

Councilman David Vial offered a motion to put off action on the proposal while the proposal is studied further, but it failed for a lack of six votes. Voting to table were Harry Lavine, Lionel Wells, Nicky Muscarello, Vial and Bobby Cortez. Voting against tabling the measure were Louis Joseph, Ronnie Bankston, Greg Varnado and Bruno. Trent Forrest abstained.

A motion to approve the regulation ordinance also failed to garner the six necessary votes. Voting for the measure were Bruno, Joseph, Bankston and Varnado. Voting against the proposal were Cortez, Lavine, Vial, Wells and Muscarello. Again, Forrest abstained.

Council Clerk Kristen Pecararo said the measure could be re-introduced on June 11 for council action.