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Energy Leaders Respond to New District Court Ruling on Coastal Litigation, Gov. Edwards’ Renewed Calls for More Lawsuits

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BATON ROUGE, LA (Nov. 10, 2016)— Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA) Acting President Gifford Briggs and Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA) President Chris John today issued the following joint statement in response to 24th Judicial District Court Judge Stephen Enright’s decision to grant a motion for a new trial in the lawsuits involving Gov. John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Jefferson Parish and numerous oil and gas exploration and production companies over alleged violations of coastal use permits:
 
“Judge Enright’s reversal is based entirely on assertions made by Gov. Edwards and DNR officials that the state doesn’t have the staff, the funding or the capability to address permit violations alleged in the coastal lawsuits.”
 
“Governor Edwards’ and DNR’s claim that they are incapable of addressing the alleged violations through the state’s well established administrative enforcement process is absurd. DNR manages an annual budget of $69 million and employs hundreds of scientists and inspectors. DNR’s primary duty and obligation under state law is to do the work that the Edwards Administration is now calling on our judicial system to do.”
 
“We fundamentally disagree with the view that our overworked, overburdened courts are more capable of enforcing the terms of state issued permits than an entire state department that has the resources and the constitutional obligation to do just that.”
 
“Gov. John Bel Edwards and DNR have completely abandoned the state’s longstanding administrative process in lieu of unprecedented litigation. They have made no effort to address—or even investigate—the validity of the claims alleged in these coastal lawsuits before resorting to judicial action. And in the many months since Gov. Edwards intervened in the litigation, DNR has not issued one single compliance order or permit violation.”
 
“By attempting to use our courts to circumvent the work of DNR and the administrative enforcement of state law, Gov. Edwards is setting a new precedent, which will have far-reaching implications beyond oil and gas to the entire business community.”

“The Edwards Administration’s shortsighted approach to litigation also makes the false assumption that energy producers are not doing their part to help solve the complex challenges facing our coast. Nothing could be further from the truth. Today, the oil and gas industry is the No. 1 private investor in Louisiana’s coast and environment. In addition to annual investments of as much as $200 million to support public sector projects included in the state’s coastal master plan, the industry also supports dozens of coastal and environmental projects being led by our private and nonprofit partners. These investments clearly illustrate that collaboration is much more effective than litigation in moving us toward our collective goal of protecting Louisiana’s coast.”
 
“We applaud the many, many local leaders who have rejected the Administration’s calls for more lawsuits and stood strong in the face of mounting pressure from Gov. Edwards and his team of lawyers. We humbly ask that you will continue to stand up for Louisiana’s oil and gas industry and help protect the energy jobs and wages that are so vital to our communities.”

“Gov. Edwards’ sue-first strategy will not result in a quick payday. As we have said on behalf of our member companies from the beginning, LOGA and LMOGA will continue to vigorously defend Louisiana’s oil and gas industry from this ill-conceived and divisive litigation.”
 
“If Gov. Edwards continues to pursue this misguided path, the only thing that’s clear is that this very long legal battle is just getting started.  As these unnecessary lawsuits wind their way through the courts over the next  10 or 20 years, many more energy companies will likely go bankrupt and those who don’t will choose to invest and create jobs elsewhere.”
 
“It’s time that we get back to doing what we do best in Louisiana, and that’s fueling our nation. Endless litigation is not the answer to strengthening our economy or restoring our coast.”
 

LOGA

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MEDIA CONTACTS:
 
Gifford Briggs
Louisiana Oil & Gas Association
225 892 7688

Gifford@loga.la 
 
Chris John
Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association
337 344 5987
chris.john@lmoga.com

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.

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