A quiz: What do Big Oil and Galileo, and maybe you, have in common? Answer is below.

Here is news and opinions about climate change that counters climate-alarm truthiness from emanating from some quarters. These facts and opinions are being said by those who know what they are talking about. Decide for yourself if you accept it.

For example, fires are not getting worse, storms are not getting worse, and the polar bears are doing fine, says economist Bjorn Lomborg. Incidentally, he believes the climate is getting warmer and offers realistic solutions.

Climate-change dissent is muffled. Or worse, the dissenters are scorned. Idealogues rule the debate.

Alex Epstein deflates several “facts” he deems to be climate myths (e.g. 2023 is not the hottest year on record) and shows how climate data is manipulated by climate catastrophists.

Speaking of one-sided scenarios, the Dallas Morning News warns that the summer of 2023 was the hottest ever. The source is the Associated Press.  See the link above; Mr. Epstein says it is a myth. What matters is that there is legitimate disagreement on the topic. The Morning News and others in the mainstream media rely on sources who act as if the purpose of news reporting is to advocate a position rather than actually report and let the reader decide. Fatuous politicians, bureaucrats lacking expertise (says Francis Fenton of The Manhattan Contrarian , feckless government policy, and children who can’t sleep at night and the parents who terrify them, are the results.

See this link for a debate about climate sensitivity, that is, the sensitivity of the earth’s climate to increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. You have both sides to consider.

Storms are getting worse!!! says the AP. No, they aren’t, says David Legates at the Heartland Institute.

Answer to the quiz:  Both have been condemned by the current “science” … and the Catholic Church. Lately it’s from the Vatican’s chief meteorologist, who has a cool side-hustle. 

Answered correctly? You won an hour of scorn from Greta Thunburg.

Your musical interludes: One for the mighty Ra … and one for what comes next.

The Duhig Rule is back, this time in Echols Minerals LLC, et al v. Green et al.

Framing the discussion, Duhig v. Peavy Moore Lumber Company and Trial v. Dragon

In Duhig the grantor in a general warranty deed warranted title and reserved half of the minerals. The deed did not mention that a third party owned half of the minerals. Duhig breached the warranty the moment he conveyed the property because he could not both retain half the minerals and convey half when the third party owned that half. Duhig was estopped from claiming ownership of the mineral interest he had reserved for himself.

There is a two-part test to determine if Duhig applies to a warranty deed that reserves an interest. First, did the grantor convey an interest greater than what he or she possessed such that there is an overconveyance and therefore a failure of title?

If the answer is yes, then under Dragon, Duhig does not apply if the grantor did not own the interests required to remedy the breach at the time of execution. Duhig is narrow in scope and confined to the specific facts in that case, say the courts.

The transactions

The court refers to several transactions. Here are the most important. By a 1952 General Warranty Deed, the Haynes grantors conveyed 278.5 acres in the north half of Section 1 to Madison, reserving a 33.25/278.5 NPRI. The deed stipulated that grantors did not own the minerals in the NW/4 of the NE/4 and the deed did not convey those minerals. There was no reference to a prior 1944 Mineral Deed conveying ½ of the minerals to Regan. In 1949 Haynes et al had stipulated that Roselyn owned 1/6th and the others owned 5/6ths.

In another 1952 deed, Haynes, guardian for the minor Roselyn, conveyed to Madison all of Roselyn’s RTI in the N/2 of Section 1, described as a 1/6th interest, “subject to all outstanding royalty or mineral conveyances.”

The suit

Echols claimed an interest through the Haynes grantors for half of the 33.25/278.5 NPRI retained in the 1952 Haynes et al deed. Defendants Green and Fortis counterclaimed as successors to Madison that the NPRI reservation by Haynes et al in the 1952 deed was ineffective under Duhig because the Haynes grantors failed to except the ½ mineral interest conveyed to Regan in 1944.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Green/Fortis that the reservation was ineffective, applying Duhig. The court of appeals reversed and rendered. Duhig did not apply

The Haynes grantors in the 1952 general warranty deed conveyed more interest in the mineral estate than they owned, reserving a mineral interest, creating a “Duhig problem”. But there was no remedy available. The exact mineral interest to remedy the grantors’ failure of title would be 1/2. They conveyed a 5/6 interest to Madison while they only owned 1/3rd. The Haines grantors did not own the exact interest to remedy their failure of title.  

The court also denied Echols’ argument that the 1952 guardian deed and the 1952 NPRI deed should be read together as a single, unified transaction. The deeds had different grantors, conveyed different interests and had different terms.

A concurring opinion would read the two transactions together.

Your musical interlude

Fletcher v. Merritt resulted in several rulings on the proof required to prevail in a property dispute. Merritt filed a trespass to try title suit (actually a quiet title, which the court construed as TTT) against Fletcher for ownership of a 28.9 foot-wide strip separating their lots.  In concluding that the evidence was legally and factually sufficient to support adverse possession in favor of Merritt the court clarified several aspects of Texas adverse possession and TTT law.  

Dueling surveys concluded that both parties owned the strip. Defendant Fletcher sought superior title based on adverse possession. The court affirmed Merritt’s ownership.

A general denial won’t interrupt peacable possession

Fletcher’s denial of Merritt’s TTT petition without affirmatively claiming ownershjp was insufficient to disrupt the peaceable possession element of adverse possession. The defendant in a TTT suit seeking to interrupt the plaintiff’s peaceable possession must seek affirmative relief of his own to recover the property. Merritt’s evidence was sufficient to support the finding that his possession was peaceable.

A correction deed can support limitations

A correction deed was filed less than five years before suit was filed. Fletcher challenged the “duly registered deed” requirement in Civil Practice and Remedies Code §16.025(a)(3) (the five-year statute) to establish adverse possession. A correction deed is effective as of the date of the original deed, according to Property Code §5.030(a)(1). The court said there is no authority for the proposition that the mandate does not affect limitations for the purposes of adverse possession. In other words, because of its effective date per the statute, the correction deed supported five-year limitations. Plus, there was no testimony from the surveyor about the effect a change in metes and bounds would have had on the boundary. The court was left to speculate.

Use can be established by temporary improvements

Adverse possession requires continuous, use, cultivation or enjoyment of the disputed property for the statutory period. Fletcher argued that Merritt’s shed and propane tank on the property were temporary improvements and insufficient to demonstrate continuous use, etc. But there is no requirement that permanent structures be built in order to establish continuous use.

The testimony that Merritt maintained the strip since moving in was testimony that the disputed strip always belong to him.  

No attorney’s fees in a TTT action
Fletcher’s challenge to an award of attorney fees to Merritt was successful. Attorney fees are not recoverable in TTT. Merritt argued for fees under the Texas Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act, but he did not ask the trial court to determine the boundary between the two lots.  Rather, he asked the trial court to determine that he had superior right to possession of the disputed land through adverse possession. It was a suit for adverse possession, not for a declaration of the boundary line.

Your musical interlude

Securities and Exchange Commission v. The Heartland Group Ventures LLC et al. explains what a receiver under federal law has the right to do. Much like Nick Saban’s offense against a certain team, she can do just about anything she wants.

The assets

The SEC applied for appointment of a receiver for a group of Heartland companies. The entities’ assets included 403 oil and gas wells and 110 miles of gas gathering and transportation lines called the Palo Pinto Pipeline. The receiver sought an order from the court that she had no right, obligation or interest in the Palo Pinto Pipeline or, alternatively, for permission to abandon her interest in the pipeline. The Texas Railroad Commission objected, asserting that each operator of a pipeline system must obtain a permit from the Commission, to be renewed annually; Dodson Prairie, one of the receivership entities, did not possess a T-4 Permit to operate the pipeline; and the pipeline was not part of the receivership estate.

The receiver’s authority

Under federal law, a receiver in a civil action involving property has complete custody and control and right to take possession over such property. But upon taking possession, the receiver has the burden of managing and operating the property in accordance with state law.

A court imposing a federal equity receivership assumes jurisdiction over the property of the subject entity. Federal receivers must comply with state law and cannot abandon property if doing so would violate a state law reasonably calculated to protect public health or safety from immediate and identifiable harm. The party opposing abandonment, here the Railroad Commission, must prove that the property would create an imminent and identifiable harm to the public which would be aggravated by the abandonment (For example, burying five tons of pesticides in uncontrolled conditions). 

The Railroad Commission argued that whether the receiver is an operator of the pipeline was not before the court because only the Commission had jurisdiction to make that decision. Thus, the issue for the court was to determine whether abandoning the pipeline would result in imminent and identifiable harm to the public.

No imminent harm

Assuming without deciding that the receiver had a legal obligation to operate the pipeline, in absence of evidence showing that abandonment would cause an imminent and identifiable harm to the public the magistrate recommended that court permit the receiver to abandon the pipeline.

The receiver argued that she was not liable for plugging the wells because the obligation arose months or even years before her appointment. Relying on a similar situation in the bankruptcy context the magistrate concluded that the receiver has an obligation to expend funds to bring the wells into compliance with state health and safety laws and the duty is not contingent upon when the obligation arose. Regardless of when the violations occurred, the receiver undertook ongoing obligations to comply with applicable state law related to health and safety and plug the wells once she became the operator.

The receiver offered evidence to support her position. Among other actions she emptied tanks to avoid potential spills, removed vegetation to mitigate fire hazards, and insured gathering line pressure was not an immediate environmental threat.

The magistrate concluded that while abandoning unplugged wells could create future environmental hazards, that fear does not present evidence of imminent harm to the public.

The receiver was allowed to abandon the wells and the pipeline.

Your musical interlude.

So, you found all the heirs and you have an agreed judgment stipulating title. Time to pay royalties? Maybe. And you have signed division orders. Surely, you can pay now? Maybe. These were the questions facing the parties in Perdido Properties LLC v. Devon Energy Production Company et al.

Facts and events

Ross Brady dies, bequeathing a royalty interest in Ector County, 75% to wife Pauline and 12.5% each to his two sisters.

Pauline dies intestate survived by next `husband Smitherman, Sr. and her siblings Claire Bremer and William Watson.

A title opinion for Devon the operator links Pauline to the Brady interest.

Enerlex acquires 1/4th of the interest in the royalty from William. That was all he owned.

William’s conservator, Devon and Enerlex execute an agreed judgment setting aside the Enerlex deed and a release of claims. Devon prepares and the conservator signs division orders reflecting that 100% of the Brady interest is payable to Watson and his lawyer De León. Devon pays William and De Leon.

William dies and his interest goes to the Watson Group (descendants, it appears).

Perdido sues Devon and the Watson Group on behalf of Smitherman, Jr./Bremer for failure to pay royalties, claiming they own 50% of the Brady interest, and asserts alternative claims against Watson Group.

Watson Group obtains summary judgment on Perdido’s claims based on limitations. Devon obtains summary judgment that Smitherman/Bremer’s claims are precluded because Devon paid royalties under a division order, limitations, and no evidence of fraudulent inducement.

What about the judgment?

An agreed judgment is an adjudication and a contract, but only applies to the parties who are before the court. That does not include the Watson Group.

Aren’t division orders binding?

Not always. In Gavenda v. Strata Energy the producer who prepared erroneous division orders and then underpaid royalty owners retained part of the proceeds for itself was liable to the underpaid owners, overcoming the general rule that DO’s are binding until revoked.

One of the principles underlying the general rule is detrimental reliance. Generally, when there are proper division orders the underpaid royalty owner is entitled to recover royalties from the overpaids, not the operator.

In Gavenda the producer was liable to the underpaid owner for the portion of the royalties the producer retained, although it was not liable for royalties paid to other royalty owners. Here, Smitherman/Bremer did not sign DO’s. They were only signed by Watson.

The basis of the result in Gavenda was unjust enrichment. Here, Devon argued that it had paid all the royalties to Smitherman/Bremer under DO’s executed by other royalty owners. Relying on several North Dakota cases, the appellate court held that Gavenda did not preclude Smitherman/Bremer’s claim against Devon even though it would result in double payment from Devon. Devon was not unjustly enriched, but it could not have detrimentally relied on the actions of Smitherman/Bremer because they did not sign the DO’s.

Limitations and other issues

Interesting as it might be to those of us who procrastinate, space does not allow for the court’s analysis of limitations.

Mispayment of the royalties to the Watson Group did not occur as a result of a change in ownership and failure of notice under the lease’s change of ownership clause. The failure to pay was not the result of a change of ownership.   

The release agreement did not release Smitherman/Bremer’s claim royalties on past production. See the opinion for a detailed analysis of the agreement’s language and of emails on the issue of whether Devon acknowledged a debt to Smitherman/Bremer.

The result

Judgment for Devon on limitations reversed and remanded. Judgment affirmed on all other claims.

Your musical interlude.

Most states call it a third-party beneficiary contract. Leave it to Louisiana to be different. In Adams v. Chevron USA Inc., the plaintiffs claimed that oilfield pipe-cleaning activities of Chevron and others contaminated their land with NORM. The Grafers owned the land where, pursuant to a lease, the pipes and other equipment were cleaned. Plaintiffs also sought damages from the Grefers for their own alleged negligence.  Adams settled with most of the defendants by a settlement agreement in 2014 but continued to seek damages from the Grafers.

The question: Were the Grefers included in the settlement as released/indemnified parties? No. The appellate court concluded that the trial court erred by disregarding testimony presented at an evidentiary hearing of the actual intent of the parties to the settlement agreement concerning whether the Grefers were or were not to be released.  

Extrinsic evidence of the parties’ intent

Under Louisiana’s extrinsic evidence rule when words of the agreement are clear and explicit and lead to no absurd consequences, no further interpretation may be made in search of the parties’ intent. Compromise agreements are a jurisprudential exception. When a dispute arises as to the scope of a compromise agreement, extrinsic evidence can be considered to determine exactly what differences the parties intended to settle. Intent is determined by reading the compromise instrument in light of the surrounding circumstances at the time of execution of the agreement. 

There was no stipulation pour autrui.

In any state, a contracting party may stipulate a benefit for a third-party who is not named in the contract. In Louisiana it is done via a stipulation pour autrui. Such a stipulation is never presumed.

In the settlement agreement, the definition of released parties was very broad, including indemnitees and indemnitors and any other person for which the named settling defendants may be liable, whether in contract, tort or equity, in connection with or arising from the claims asserted in the litigation. The Grefers were not parties to the agreement, had no hand in drafting it, and did not contribute to the settlement payment.

The settlement agreement failed to meet the criteria for a stipulation pour autrui.

  1. There was no manifestly clear intent to benefit the Grefers. The agreement itself provided that the parties did not intend to make any person a third-party beneficiary nor create a stipulation pour autrui.
  2. There was no certainty as to the benefit bestowed upon the Grefers.
  3. Any benefit for the Grefers was a mere incident of the settlement between the settling defendants and plaintiffs.

The Grefers were not released by the 2014 settlement agreement.

Your musical interlude

Foreshadowing a grim future for family weddings and funerals, Bell and Petsch v. Petch is a property dispute over five tracts of land in Gillespie County, Texas, in which siblings are the combatants. The events are less important than the takeaway: To win an adverse possession claim, the claimant must establish all six of the elements.

Adverse possession, the requirements

  1. actual and visible possession of the disputed property that is
  2. adverse and hostile to the claims of the owner of record title;
  3. open and notorious;
  4. peaceable;
  5. exclusive; and
  6. involves continued cultivation, use or enjoyment throughout the statutory period.

The events

The four “Disputed Tracts” are 160, 166, 11 and 17 acres each. A fifth, 118 acres, involved a conveyance by Jeannine (Bell) of her undivided half interest to Darrell (Petsch).

1975: Grandma Thekla dies and devises to Darrell an undivided half interest in the Disputed Tracts, subject to a life estate in Emil.

1976: Jeannine, at the ripe old age of 12, conveys the 118 acres to Darrell by deed.

1976: Grandad Emil conveys the 160, 166 and 11-acre tracts to Darrell by deed.

1979: Emil dies, Darrell acquires the 17-acre tract under Emil’s will.

2020: Jeanine and sister sue for judgment declaring that the deed to the 118 acres is void because she was 12 years old when she signed. Darrell, wanting it all, pleads limitations. The trial court grants summary judgment for Darrell that he acquired title to the Disputed Tracts by adverse possession, limitations bars Jeanine’s claim on the 118 acres, and declaratory judgment is an improper vehicle for adjudicating title (you knew that because you’ve been reading Energy and the Law for years).

The parties became cotenants of the Disputed Tracts when Emil died in 1979. Thus, the court reviewed the evidence in light of the heightened standard applicable to cotenants. A cotenant’s use of common property is presumed not adverse unless the cotenant repudiates his cotenant’s title. Repudiation must be evidenced by actions or declarations that clearly manifest intent to repudiate the cotenancy.

Upon Thekla’s death ownership of the Disputed Tracts was:

 Emil 50% fee, Emil 50% life estate, Jeannine 50% remainder.

In 1976 (after Emil’s deed to Darrell), ownership became:

 Darrel 50% fee, Darrell 50% life estate, Jeannine 50% remainder.

Upon Emil’s death in 1979 ownership became:

 Darrell 50% fee, Jeannine 50% fee.

No adverse possession by Darrell

Darrell asserted that his deed from Emil purporting to convey the entirety of the property in fee was a repudiation of the cotenancy between him and Jeanine. The court disagreed. First, Emil and Jeanine were not cotenants because her interest did not become possessory until Emil’s death. Second, Darrell’s deed was filed of record after Jeannine acquired the remainder interest from Thekla. Thekla could not impart constructive notice on Jeannine after repudiation. Recordation on a date after the other cotenants have already acquired their property interests does not put those cotenants on constructive notice that their cotenant claimed an adverse interest. Darrell failed to conclusively establish notice of repudiation of the cotenancy.

Limitations and Jeannine’s voidable deed

Responding to Jeanine’s challenge to the deed to the 118 acres, Darrell claimed the affirmative defense of three-year statute of limitations under Civil Practice and Remedies Code 16.024. This defense failed because Darrell could not prove every element of his adverse possession claim (See above). The parties continued to jointly use the 118 acres until at least September 2020.

Your musical interlude.

The question in Self v, BPX Operating Company is how to balance the Louisiana Civil Code Art 2292 principle of negotiorum gestio against Louisiana’s conservation statutes.  

When a tract of land is subject to a unit formed under La. R.S. 30:9(B) and 30:10(A(1) and the tract is not subject to a lease, the unit operator can sell the landowner’s share of production but must pay the landowner his pro rata share of “proceeds”.

The Selfs own unleased mineral interests that are in a forced drilling unit. BPX is the operator. The Selfs allege for themselves and for a class that BPX has been improperly deducting PPCs from their pro rata share of production. BPX has also been withholding amounts related to minimum volume commitments and capacity reservation fees. The district court granted BPX’s motion to dismiss, holding that the doctrine of negotiorum gestio provides a mechanism for BPX to properly deduct PPCs not otherwise covered by specific statutes.

Self contends that La. R.S 30:10(A)(3) requires BPX to pay on gross proceeds from the sale of production. BPX counters that “proceeds” is ambiguous and should be interpreted to mean net proceeds after deduction of PPCs. Regardless, 30:10(A)(3) is harmonized with the Louisiana Civil Code regime under the negotiorum gestio doctrine. The relationship between the parties is quasi-contractual under Louisiana law.

If negotiorum gestio applies, Art. 2297 allows reimbursement by a manager of another of all necessary and useful expenses. The gestor must act (1) voluntarily and without authority, (2) to protect the interests of another, and (3) in the reasonable belief that the owner would approve of the action if made aware of the circumstances.

The Selfs assert that BPX’s acts are not voluntary and without authority because it acts pursuant to a statutory duty and it acts to protect its own interests, not the interests of unleased mineral owners.

The Fifth Circuit determined that there is no controlling case law dealing specifically with the facts at hand and that it could not make a reliable guess as to the applicability of the doctrine. Thus, it certified to the Louisiana Supreme Court:

Does Louisiana Civil Code Art. 2292 apply to a unit operator selling production in accordance with La. R.S. 30:10(A)(3)?

Justice Dennis dissented, arguing that under 30:10(A)(3) a unit operator who sells an owner’s production under the authority of the statute cannot be a gestor because it acts with authority.  The majority disregarded the plain text of Art. 2292, he says. Rather than elaborate, we will wait for a definitive answer from the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Your musical interlude. Yes, there is music from North Louisiana after Jerry Lee.

Barkley v. Connally, a “bet-the-farm” case if there ever was one, invokes the merger clause, a basic principle of contract law. Clients and lawyers: Read this analysis so as to avoid boundless grief and disappointment for client and lawyer alike.

Jim Barkley, having undergone bankruptcy and nearing retirement, agreed to sell his farm to Connally, owner of an adjacent tract, if Jim and Ms. Barkley could buy back their residence and the 40-acre pasture across the road. Connally agreed. A Purchase and Sale Agreement was signed by all parties.  Connally was represented by a real estate lawyer and a bankruptcy lawyer. A merger clause in the PSA said:

This Agreement constitutes the sole and only agreement of the parties hereto and supersedes any prior understanding or written or oral agreements between the parties respecting the within subject matter. This expressly includes the Offer to Purchase submitted to the Seller on or about April 10, 2017 … ..

The “Offer to Purchase” was to buy back the family home.

The transaction closed. The Barkleys remained on the property and emailed to the Connallys their readiness to buy back the home place and pasture for $60,000, the agreed price. The Connallys responded that there was no enforceable agreement for the sale and they had no intention of doing so due to the Barkleys’ “recent behavior toward the Connellys” (gotta wonder what that was all about).

The Barkleys sued. The court granted Connally’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the Barkleys claims for breach of contract, trespass to try title and promissory estoppel. After a trial the jury determined that the Connnallys had not induced the Barkleys into entering the PSA through fraud.

The merger doctrine

The general rule is that the courts presume that all prior oral and written agreements are merged into a subsequent written contract. A written merger clause is essentially memorialization of the merger doctrine. When parties have entered into a valid written integrated contract the parole evidence rule precludes enforcement of prior or contemporaneous agreements that address the same subject matter and are inconsistent with the written contract.

The court found that the subject matter was the same as the written agreement and rejected the Barkleys’ assertion that enforcement of the agreement for purchase of the house was collateral to and not inconsistent with the PSA and thus was enforceable. 

A collateral agreement is one that is supported by separate consideration and that the parties might naturally make separately under the circumstances and would not ordinarily be expected to embody in the writing. The agreement to purchase the house was barred by the parole evidence rule.

Trespass to try title

The Barkleys did not assert any of the four methods allowed by the trespass-to-try-title statute and that claim was rejected.

Promissory estoppel as a claim for affirmative relief

The Barkleys’ promissory estoppel claim was denied. According to some Texas appellate courts, promissory estoppel can constitute the basis for a claim for affirmative relief, but in this one (the 7th Court in Amarillo), promissory estoppel is defensive in nature and not an independent cause of action.

Your musical interlude.

Parish of Plaquemines v. Northcoast Oil Co. is yet another remand of yet another of the 43 suits filed in state courts against a legion of oil and gas companies under the Louisiana’s State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act of 1978. The suits arise out of the defendants’ decades-long oil production activities on the Louisiana coast.

So far, the message seems to be: Producers, surrender to the jurisdiction of the state courts and trust in the wisdom of the well-intentioned citizen-jurors of the coastal parishes. You are not likely to find solace in the relative safety of the federal courts.

The decision is long and dense, including a tutorial on prior rulings. The long and short of it is that after being remanded repeatedly upon the failure of a variety of theories of removal jurisdiction, the defendants crafted a new one: World War II era oil production activities, conducted during a time of significant governmental regulation and oversight, allow for federal officer removal.

The removing defendants failed to show that they were acting pursuant to a federal officer’s or agency’s direction. They argued that at the very least they should be treated as federal subcontractors because, even though they had no contracts of their own with the federal government for oil production, at least Gulf Oil Corporation had contracts with refineries who had contracts with the federal government to deliver fuel used in the war effort. But the crude oil production was not under federal direction. The federal district court was not persuaded that the argument satisfied either the acting-under requirement or the related-to requirement for federal officer removal. Both must be satisfied for there to be removal jurisdiction.

Which leads to this query

They don’t teach metaphors in law school, and lawyer-bloggers are well-advised to delete their naval-gazing before publication. That said, here goes anyway: Some species of animals eat their young. Older male, king-of-the-jungle lions, for example, will devour young males in order to eliminate the competition (and to clear the decks for more “quality time” with the ladies).  One can rationalize the myriad suits against “Evil Oil” by anti-fossil fuel blue governments on the principle that Evil Oil competes with undependable but virtuous alternative energy, ergo Evil Oil must be destroyed by vexing litigation before hometown juries. I get it.

But in a state in which oil and gas production is so vital to economic prosperity, are these suits also “eating the young”? Will they chase off producers’ exploration dollars in favor of friendlier locales? From my corner of the oil patch, that’s what the legacy contamination suits have done.

On the other hand, coastal deterioration is real. Maybe the millions in potential recoveries will actually be put to work to save the wetlands that also drive prosperity. And maybe, as some believe, the producers have exploited the state like it was a third-world backwater and its time for payback. Here is a podcast from Baton Rouge NPR station WRKF that might answer the questions.

Your musical interlude is one way to look at it.