Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law two bills significantly revising Louisiana’s oilfield cleanup statute, La. R. S 30:29. The new law affects the procedures for remediating oil field pollution and resolving oilfield contamination claims. The purupose is to expedite the remediation process and the resolution of claims.
For the highlights that were important to the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, I refer to the analysis of Donald Briggs, president of LOGA, as reported by the American Oil & Gas Reporter in its July issue:
- In an effort to accelerate remediation, parties can assume responsibility for environmental damage according to a regulatory standard without admitting liability for private damages.
- Once a party claims responsibility, the Department of Natural Resources will structure a feasible cleanup plan.
- Cleanup plans will be subject to review by the DNR, secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality, and the commissioner of agriculture.
- Both the remediation plans and the agencies’ comments are admissible in court.
- No employee, contractor, nor representative of the state is allowed to engage in any ex parte communications with department employees while plans are being designed.
- Any party that admits responsibility waives the right to enforce contractual rights to indemnification for punitive damages caused by the responsible party.
Other features of the new law are meaningful (as a lawyer, I gravitate toward the procedural stuff):
- A defendant can request an early dismissal from a suit. There will be an evidentiary hearing at which the plaintiff can provide evidence of the defendant’s liability. The defendant will have an opportunity to rebut. The defendant could be brought back into the suit if evidence is discovered later in the proceeding.
- A plaintiff can interrupt prescription by delivering a notice of intent to investigate to the DNR. Certain information must be included in the notice.
To say this musical interlude is relevant to today’s topic is a stretch. But what if the aforesaid Gov. Jindal becomes one heartbeat away from the presidency? Other than that, it’s here because I like it.