Capitol Views by Maginnis: 'Legacy' bill heads to House floor
With a new approach through a friendlier committee, oil companies succeeded today in moving legislation to the House floor that would set up a new procedure for handling so-called legacy lawsuits. House Bill 618 by Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, passed the Civil Law Committee he chairs, marking the first legislative action on a high-stakes issue that has been negotiated for months with no fundamental agreement between the oil companies, landowners and the landowners' environmental lawyers. Instead of changing the heavily litigated Act 312 of 2006, Abramson's bill adds an article to the Civil Code to tell courts to admit as evidence cleanup plans submitted by the state. Oil company representatives testified that the bill would lead to speedier cleanup of sites by the companies that polluted them, often decades ago, and would relieve current leaseholders of the legal uncertainty that is thwarting new drilling operations today. In opposition, Jimmy Faircloth, attorney for the state's largest private landowner Roy O. Martin, argued, "The mechanics of what you are proposing won't work. It's not about making it work. It's about leverage." He said oil companies could force landowners into expensive administrative pre-trial hearings and would apply massive lobbying pressure on the Department of Natural Resources to grant variances from state regulatory standards. Read the full column here.
(John Maginnis will publish a daily update throughout the legislative session on Daily Report PM. The report is also available to LaPolitics Weekly subscribers on the Subscribers Only page at LaPolitics.com. Registration is available on the homepage.)
Louisiana Public Broadcasting is providing a daily video update featuring highlights of the session, which you can see beginning at 6 p.m. here.
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