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St. Tammany Parish Files Louisiana Fracking Lawsuit

August 27th, 2014

A Louisiana fracking lawsuit, filed by residents of St. Tammany Parish, seeks to prevent an oil exploration company from obtaining a permit to drill within its borders. The Louisiana fracking lawsuit, an unusual move in the oil-friendly state, would prevent Helis Oil from engaging in fracking operations that would take place near a major aquifer and could potentially endanger up to 90 percent of the parish’s water supply.

Louisiana Fracking Lawsuit “All About the Water”

The proposed fracking operation would explore the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale and would drill more than 13,000 feet underground. The drilling operation would penetrate the Southern Hills Aquifer, which supplies 90 percent of the water for St. Tammany Parish residents. The Louisiana fracking lawsuit also cites zoning laws, environmental regulations and safety concerns in its allegations. However, Rick Franzo, the president of the conservative parish, noted that his Louisiana fracking lawsuit is “all about the water”.

Population Growth Spurs Louisiana Fracking Lawsuit

One of the major issues behind the Louisiana fracking lawsuit in St. Tammany is the parish’s population growth. The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation forecasts that the area’s population will double in the next fifteen years. This explosive population expansion has residents and officials concerned with quality-of-life issues. The noise, odors and traffic associated with fracking operations would likely have a negative effect on those factors. Prior to the Louisiana fracking lawsuit, the parish has also sued to limit other commercial developments, such as a local Wal-Mart, that they see as impinging on the area’s pastoral setting.

Oil Company Disputes Louisiana Fracking Lawsuit

While St. Tammany officials maintain that their Louisiana fracking lawsuit stems from maintaining clean water and preserving environmental quality, attorneys for Helis Oil see different motivations. Greg Beuerman, a spokesman for Helis, disputes the idea that the Louisiana fracking lawsuit is about protecting the aquifer from potential contamination. He cited both recent political turmoil among parish officials and the state’s strict water quality regulations as reasons which would cast doubt on the suit’s allegations.

Unusual Louisiana Fracking Lawsuit Challenges Town’s Identity

The Abita Brewing Company, located in the town of Abita Springs in St. Tammany Parish, depends on a local artesian well for its water. Residents have expressed concerned that an unfavorable result in the Louisiana fracking lawsuit could lead to contamination of the water and the loss of a major income source. Lisa Jordan, executive director of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic in New Orleans, told local reporters that the clean water is a major component of the town’s identity.

“It makes up its economy, its culture, and is the reason why people moved here,” Ms. Jordan said. “This is what is important to these people.”

Source: Louisiana Record

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