The activist group Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany and its president, Rick Franzo, have been frequent and vociferous critics of parish government. But the two have found common cause in fighting the plan by Helis Oil & Gas Co. to drill a fracking well near Lakeshore High School.
Attorneys for Concerned Citizens have filed a motion in state court in Baton Rouge, seeking to have CCST added as a party to the suit filed by attorneys for the parish. That suit seeks to prevent state Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh from issuing a drilling permit for the well.
The suit argues that St. Tammany zoning rules prohibit industrial uses like drilling wells, and also that the state has been negligent in overseeing wells.
Neither the state nor the parish objected to CCST’s petition to join the suit, according to a press release from Franzo. Helis had not formally responded to CCST’s request to join the suit, he said.
In late October, state District Judge William Morvant refused to dismiss the suit, but he did order that Helis be added to the suit as a party. About two weeks later, the state’s Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing a Lakeshore High School on Helis’ application for a drilling permit. DNR also said at the time that public comments would be collected for seven days after the hearing, and that a decision would be made on the permit within 30 days, or by Dec. 19 — Friday, in other words.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.