St. Tammany will ask high court to reconsider decision in fracking case

Robert Rhoden of The Times-Picayune reports that the St. Tammany Parish Council voted 10-2 Wednesday night (June 22) to ask the state Supreme Court to reconsider its decision not to hear the parish’s appeal to block an oil drilling project near Mandeville. The vote came after the council met in executive session for 15 minutes and then heard from about 15 members of the public.

Council members James “Red” Thompson and S. Michele Blanchard cast the dissenting votes. Members Richard Tanner and T.J. Smith were absent (NOLA.com).

All but two of the speakers urged the council to continue the legal fight.

“I think we’ve come this far and we can’t give up,” said Sheila Delacroix of Covington. “I don’t want it (fracking) to happen on my watch and think we need to keep going” (NOLA.com).

Charles Goodwin of Mandeville thanked the council for its efforts, saying what began as a fracking issue is now much more than that. The court rulings, he said, are “putting a dagger right through the heart of zoning – our zoning” (NOLA.com).

Two representatives of the Northshore Business Council asked the parish governing body to end the legal battle (NOLA.com).

Sean Burkes referred to fracking opponents as a “very vocal minority” and said, “We are adamantly opposed to you continuing this lawsuit that you’ve already lost” (NOLA.com).

Business council Executive Director Bonnie Eades stressed the importance of the many oil and gas jobs in St. Tammany. A “yes” vote by the Parish Council would send a message that parish government does not support the investments made by the industry, she said (NOLA.com).

The special meeting was called in response to the court’s 4-3 decision late last week not to take up the parish’s legal fight against the state Department of Natural Resources and its Office of Conservation. The parish filed the lawsuit in 2014 in hopes of blocking the project proposed by Helis Oil & Gas Co. of New Orleans. Helis plans to start drilling June 29 on residentially zoned land east of Louisiana 1088 northeast of Mandeville (NOLA.com).

The parish has maintained that it can block the project through the enforcement of its land-use regulations, which do not allow such a use at the location. But the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge and the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal both ruled against St. Tammany, prompting the parish government to ask the Supreme Court to review the case (NOLA.com).

And by a narrow vote last week, the Supreme Court decided not to consider the case.

Read the full article here.

 

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