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2015: A Year Of Action

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By Don Briggs

President, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association

2015 should be a year of action for the Louisiana oil and gas industry. While companies will be evaluating budgets, trimming employees and estimating the affects of the falling oil prices on their organizations, necessary attention should be given to another topic as well. Something completely outside the realm of international crude oil prices will be taking place in Louisiana in this calendar year.

Campaigns are now in full swing for several crucial elections. By November of this year, or December, should there be run-off elections, Louisiana citizens will have elected a new governor, a new attorney general, new state representatives, senators, judges, mayors and the list goes on down to the police jury level.

Local and state elections have never been more important to the oil and gas industry as they are now. The industry is now facing lawsuits from parish governments, town governments, levee boards and private citizens. Numerous private citizens have filed over 360 legacy suits across the state, dozens of oil and gas companies are being sued at the parish level, and now recently the Town of Abita Springs has filed suit against an operator to prevent one single well from coming to a parish.

Previously, the industry had a small group of trial lawyers to battle over legacy lawsuits. But now, parish officials, mayors and judges are taking part in the battle to make oil and gas operations more difficult for Louisiana businesses.

What action can the industry take? The industry has a crucial role to play in helping to elect conservative, business friendly officials. The opposition, being a select group of trial lawyers and the green army led by a rogue group of environmentalists, are doing their part to fund candidates that will vote for anti-industry initiatives.

The oil and gas industry has to counter-act these opposing groups by supporting candidates that have a desire to see business thrive in Louisiana. The opposition supports candidates that back measures that squash out a healthy business atmosphere. It is no coincidence that the state of Louisiana stays in the top three for the worst places to conduct business due to our legal climate.

Judges that blatantly rule against the industry, parish presidents that stand behind egregious lawsuits and mayors that publically support litigations to prevent oil and gas activity were elected at some point in time. These same officials can also be voted out of office.

Compared to the opposition, the oil and gas industry has done a poor job of supporting political candidates in key races. It is time our industry stands up for those who will take campaign promises and put them into practice. Our state is in grave need of elected officials that have long-term vision for the future of our business community. With the oil and gas industry’s help, Louisiana can rise to the top of the good statistical charts by helping to elect qualified, business-friendly officials to serve this great state.

Posted in: Presidents Articles

About the Author:

The Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (known before 2006 as LIOGA) was organized in 1992 to represent the Independent and service sectors of the oil and gas industry in Louisiana; this representation includes exploration, production and oilfield services. Our primary goal is to provide our industry with a working environment that will enhance the industry. LOGA services its membership by creating incentives for Louisiana’s oil & gas industry, warding off tax increases, changing existing burdensome regulations, and educating the public and government of the importance of the oil and gas industry in the state of Louisiana.

7 Comments on "2015: A Year Of Action"

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  1. Matt says:

    Last time I checked you have a responsibility to your fellow citizens that trumps any duty to “your industry.” Get a clue, dude.

  2. The GreenARMY is led by Lt Gen Russel Honore (ret) who served as the 33rd commanding general of the U.S. First Army at Fort Gillem, Georgia.

  3. Dr. Ezra Boyd says:

    “The industry is now facing lawsuits from parish governments, town governments, levee boards and private citizens. Numerous private citizens have filed over 360 legacy suits across the state, dozens of oil and gas companies are being sued at the parish level, and now recently the Town of Abita Springs has filed suit against an operator to prevent one single well from coming to a parish.”

    My advice is to read the writing on the wall. You can acknowledge the voice of people and their elected officials, or you can listen to a discredited industry leader who is not prepared for the struggle ahead.

    The industry will have to start paying for the mess that it has created in Louisiana. This is not a question of if, just a question of how much and how many companies go bankrupt because they failed to adopt realistic financial projections that accounted for their liabilities due to environmental mismanagement.

  4. Cal Pringle says:

    Louisiana is hardly a bastion of liberal thinking and elected representatives.

    Don Briggs seems to forget that the people he wants out of office due to their slant on oil and gas, were ELECTED by the people who LIKE their views.

    I would also like to know how much money the oil and gs industry slips into Don Briggs pockets each year, to make him turn against the citizens of Louisiana?

  5. CCST says:

    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    Ref: CCST response to the LOGA article: http://loga.la/2015-a-year-of-action/

    In his recent press release, “2015: A Year of Action,” Mr. Don Briggs, President, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA), articulates a corporatist, undemocratic, and ultimately dystopian vision for how the oil and gas industry can maintain financial and political supremacy in Louisiana.

    Mr. Briggs observes that the energy industry is now facing an increasing number of lawsuits from parish governments, town governments, and levee boards, that private citizens have filed over 360 legacy suits across the state, and that “the Town of Abita Springs has filed suit against an operator to prevent one single well from coming to St. Tammany Parish.” From Mr. Briggs’ perspective, the culprits for these lawsuits include a small group of trial lawyers, a rogue group of environmentalists, parish officials, mayors, judges, and essentially anyone opposed to the exclusively self-interested political and financial goals of the energy industry Mr. Briggs and LOGA are paid to represent.

    In Mr. Brigg’s view, then, Judges who rule against the energy industry are, necessarily, not applying the spirit and letter of the law; public officials who require the energy industry to behave responsibly and to pay for the catastrophic damage the industry has caused to Louisiana’s environment and to human health are not honoring their oath of office to do the people’s business; and ordinary citizens are gravely mistaken when they assert their constitutional rights as a protection against predatory energy industry initiatives which impinge on citizens’ fundamental right to govern the affairs of their community. In Mr. Briggs’ dystopian vision, the will of the people, expressed through Louisiana’s legal system and political framework, has made Louisiana an unfriendly place for the energy industry to do business.

    Mr. Briggs’ remedy for this egregious situation is to call upon the energy industry’s immense financial power to vote out of office any public official who supports legal or other action against oil and gas industry initiatives. Mr. Briggs seems to take direct aim, albeit obliquely, at the Town of Abita Springs’ Mayor, Mr. Greg Lemons, for his support of the Town’s lawsuit to prevent the Helis Oil & Gas Company from relying on an inapplicable and antiquated state law and the approval of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, a broken and dysfunctional state oil and gas regulatory agency, to drill a single oil well in St. Tammany Parish. As Mr. Briggs knows, but chooses not to mention, Helis’ initial well is intended to open the parish to a wide-scale horizontal hydraulic fracturing operation. This result would eviscerate the rights of parish residents, under the Louisiana State Constitution and the St. Tammany Parish Home Rule Charter, to govern the parish’s land use and to protect residents’ health, safety, and welfare. Ironically, in a moment when many parish officials, solely to advance their own political fortunes, have either openly supported or feigned opposition to Helis’ shale fracturing project, Mr. Lemons has shown singular and uncommon political courage. Indeed, Mr. Lemons has placed the rights of residents to govern the affairs of their community, and to protect human health, above his own political career, even in the face of a rapacious energy industry, which has now come, rather audaciously, in the voice of its paid shill, Mr. Briggs, to threaten to turn Mr. Lemons out of office at the next election.

    A dystopia is a community or society that in some important way is undesirable or frightening. Such societies appear in many artistic works. To be sure, for any person who cherishes a democratic form of government, Mr. Briggs vision for Louisiana’s future is frightening and dystopian: drawing upon its vast wealth, the energy industry would seek to subordinate the will of state government, regulatory agencies, public officials, the courts, and the general public to the industry’s desires in matters of public policy and decision-making. This kind of economic and political power in the hands of a single industry is a recipe for tyranny.

    Respectfully
    Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany

  6. Greg Lemons says:

    After reviewing this message posted by Mr. Don Briggs, President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, to his membership, I find it necessary to respond. Mr. Briggs’ article, titled “2015: A Year of Action,” is disturbing on several levels and, unfortunately, in order to properly address his points, they must be given more attention than this type of propaganda deserves. Mr. Briggs begins with his concern over falling oil prices and industry plans to trim jobs. The people of this community fully understand the benefits provided by a robust oil and gas industry in the way of jobs, but they also expect the industry to be a responsible steward, contribute its fair share in taxes, and to recognize and abide by the laws of the local governing authority. Mr. Briggs went on to add his further concern over the election of officials who are representing the will of the people, in lieu of industry will, in their communities. It is quite evident that the majority of residents in Abita Springs as well as many of those in all of St. Tammany Parish overwhelmingly oppose the hijacking of their rights to decide how they will be governed and their ability to control their own growth. Mr. Briggs urges the industry to do what is necessary to see that officials are elected who will promote the industry’s self-interest. He goes on to take exception, with apparent alarm, to the number and sources of pending lawsuits, specifically noting the Town of Abita Springs, and instead of reflecting on the reasons for the large number of suits, he seems to challenge the right of the involved parties to access the judicial branch of our government. He has presented a simplistic characterization of the purpose and goal of the Abita Springs’ suit as being the prevention of a single well from coming to the parish. With oil leases encompassing over 60,000 acres in the parish, including most of Abita Springs, it is obvious that the goal of the landowner and the drilling company is to drill more than a single well. The issues decided in Abita Springs’ lawsuit will not only impact the currently-proposed well, but will serve as a precedent for potentially hundreds of future wells in the parish, including in Abita Springs.
    As the Mayor of Abita Springs, I find it offensive that Mr. Briggs would see fit to encourage efforts to quash the people’s rights to challenge a single industry’s attempt to circumvent established land use requirements in our community. His audacious call to oust from office “judges that blatantly rule against the industry” fails to distinguish whether these rulings were well founded in law, and implies that these judges should be voted out of office solely based on their courage to enforce the law and defend the rights of the people against the ever- increasing power of the oil and gas industry. My job is to represent the people of my community, and they have told me what they want. I will continue to do my best to see their will is carried out regardless of Mr. Briggs’ threats.

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