In a Sept. 20, commentary, the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association stated in a relevant part, “no law exits that requires the money (awarded for environmental damage) be used to mitigate any said damage.”

Statements such as the above are a mainstay of LOGA and like organizations that have taken up the cause to immunize Big Oil from responsibility due to their having ruined land throughout Louisiana that is not even theirs and to run independents out of business.

But let’s not jump to conclusions and begrudge such rhetoric when the law ambiguously states, “The court shall order the party or parties who admit responsibility or whom the court finds legally responsible for the damage to develop a plan or submittal for the evaluation or remediation to applicable regulatory standards of the contamination that resulted in the environmental damage.” (La. R.S. 30:29(C)(1)).

Likewise, let’s not jump to any conclusions when the law states that “all damages or payments in any civil action, including interest thereon, awarded for the evaluation or remediation of environmental damage shall be paid exclusively into the registry of the court in an interest-bearing account with the interest accruing to the account for clean up.” (La. R.S. 30:29(D)(1)).

And finally, let’s not forget this mandate, riddled with ambiguity: “(u)pon adoption of a plan, the court shall order the party or parties admitting responsibility or the party or parties found legally responsible by the court to fund the implementation of the plan.” (La. R.S. 30:29(C)(5)).

But as repeatedly stated above, let’s not jump to conclusions and begrudge such rhetoric, because I guess it is possible that LOGA is unaware of the words in the bills it writes and presents to the Legislature for adoption. Unfortunate for the good-willed and honest people of Louisiana and for the smaller, local independents, LOGA and the carpetbaggers that make up Big Oil, however, draft laws such as the one quoted above in certain ways that effectively cause hardship to independents and drive independents out of business so that at the end of the day, it may diminish competition within the marketplace.

Ambiguity abound — the source thereof clear and unambiguous — the need for further interpretation absent: clearly, “no law exits that requires the money (awarded for environmental damage) be used to mitigate any said damage.”

Steven Matt

law student

New Orleans