St. John oil suit blames lost wetlands for increased flood risk

Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, which represents many of the small energy firms that operate in coastal Louisiana, reiterated his group’s opposition to this and other parish damage suits.

This is just more of the same from the same small group of trial lawyers,” Briggs said. “We know the biggest challenges facing this state now is loss of employment, particularly in the oil and gas industry. Now is the time to call on our state leaders to push back against theses frivolous and fallacious lawsuits and restore confidence in those companies wanting to invest in Louisiana.”

In some cases, the St. John suit says, the wastes could include naturally occurring radioactive material that can be released from a well while drilling or during production. These include radium 226 and radium 228…


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House Democrats left wanting more details from Republicans on state budget

Just days after opposition from Republicans doomed a key piece of the governor’s budget-solving strategy, House Democrats say they are still waiting for a credible budget plan from the chamber’s GOP leadership.

Two House Republican leaders briefed Democrats Thursday on their ideas to head off next year’s “fiscal cliff,” when $1.3 billion in temporary taxes expire in the state’s $9.5 billion portion of the budget, but members walked away uninspired.

“I didn’t hear a plan,” state Rep. Andy Anders, D-Vidalia, said after the meeting…


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BP finds hidden trove of oil in Gulf of Mexico via new subsea imaging

British oil major BP has discovered 200 million barrels of oil in a hidden cache in the Gulf of Mexico, thanks to a technological breakthrough allowing the company to see beneath geological formations that had befuddled oil exploration for decades.

The find, worth a potential $2 billion in recoverable oil, is in an undrilled section of BP’s Atlantis field in 7,000 feet of water 150 miles from New Orleans. Long obscured by a salt dome, which distorts seismic waves that oil companies use to map features below the earth, the oil reserves were revealed by using a supercomputer and mathematical algorithm to interpret the seismic data in a new way.

The Gulf find is another example of oil companies advancing technology to make unexpected discoveries. The advent of seismic imaging allowed oil and gas companies to model mineral layers below the earth’s surface and drill more precisely. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing unleashed the U.S. onshore shale revolution.  Now, BP’s imaging advance could save drillers hundreds of millions of dollars in false starts and dry wells, and perhaps more important, prevent them from passing up billions of dollars in oil hidden within reach of existing platforms and pipelines…


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St. John Parish becomes 6th parish to file suit against oil and gas companies for coastal loss

Saying that oil and gas companies need to “clean up the mess” they’ve made, St. John the Baptist Parish has joined with five other parishes in suing oil and gas companies for damage to coastal areas.

The lawsuit, filed in state court by St. John District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut, is similar to ones filed in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Cameron and Vermilion parishes. Lafourche has hired attorneys to represent the parish but as of yet has not filed a suit.

Like those filed before it, the St. John suit accuses oil companies of damaging the coast during operations and then refusing to restore the land to its original condition, as the law requires…


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Dedicated funds to get a close look in session

Should the Legislature unlock the state’s dedicated funds to free up more money for the budget?

These funds were given special protections by the Legislature over the years, which means the money they’re holding cannot be accessed by lawmakers and used on other needs…


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Edwards’ key tax proposal shelved; governor shifts burden to House GOP

Roughly two hours after his premier policy proposal was shelved in the House Ways and Means Committee, Gov. John Bel Edwards stood before the State Capitol press corps this afternoon and made no apologies for the failure of his commercial activity tax, which would have levied a new tax on Louisiana business sales.

The governor hinted that he knew the odds were stacked against him, especially on a committee filled with pro-business Republicans. “The fate of that bill was decided long before we unveiled it,” said Edwards.

As for why he still pursued the legislation, Edwards leaned on his previously stated stance on the fairness of the state’s tax system, citing once again that 80% of corporations pay no income tax…


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Ben Broussard, the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association’s director of marketing, will speak Wednesday in Morgan City about the state of the oil and gas industry in Louisiana.

The St. Mary Chamber of Commerce will hold a luncheon from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday at the Petroleum Club of Morgan City where Broussard will speak.
During the meeting, the chamber will recognize Standard Drugs of Morgan City for 96 years of service to the community and Firmin Architects for 40 years in business…


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Opponents, supporters of proposed business tax skirmished Monday. They will vote on the measure Tuesday

Supporters and opponents battled for the political upper hand Monday over the highest-profile tax measure during this year’s legislative session, a levy on corporate sales known as the commercial activity tax that is likely to suffer a quick demise.

The debate over House Bill 628 took place at the state House Ways and Means Committee, the first legislative step for the measure and likely the last one, with a vote scheduled for Tuesday.

“It’ll die,” state Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, a conservative member of the committee, predicted in an interview. “I haven’t talked to anybody who’s for it”…


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Analysis: All talk, little action so far in La. Legislature

Spectators watching the public meetings of the Louisiana Legislature since state lawmakers began their work two weeks ago may be tempted to ask why very little seems to be happening.

Few measures have gotten votes so far in the two-month legislative session, and nearly all the financial bills at the core of the session’s budget debate remain in the committees where they were assigned for their first hearings.

The Senate’s hamstrung by requirements that most of the tax and budget bills must begin in the House. Gov. John Bel Edwards said he doesn’t feel a sense of urgency from lawmakers about the financial problems on Louisiana’s horizon, but lawmakers in the House say they’re crafting an approach and negotiating. It’s just happening behind the scenes…


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BRIGGS: A Missed Opportunity As ExxonMobil Chooses Corpus Christi

Earlier this year, ExxonMobil officials said that Ascension and St. James parishes were in the running, along with a couple of other areas in Texas, for a multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant. Our state officials at the Louisiana Department of Economic Development immediately began doing everything in their power to bring this facility to Louisiana, but unfortunately, their efforts, while appreciated, were not enough.

On Wednesday, April 19th, we received the news that ExxonMobil had chosen to build this facility in — yes — Texas. This project is expected to bring 600 news jobs, 3,500 indirect jobs, and thousands more throughout the construction phase. Along with employment, the facility is projected to generate more than $22 billion of economic output while in construction and another $50 billion in the first six years of operation. Louisiana clearly missed out on what Texas Governor Greg Abbot calls, “a record-breaking project.”

This decision comes as no surprise. For years now, we have tried to fix our budget shortfalls by increasing the tax burden on businesses and industry, often our biggest job producers…



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