On Dec. 31, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs fired a warning shot across the bow of any politician who opposes the oil and gas industry’s aims.
After reminding readers of his online column that 2015 is an election year in Louisiana, Briggs wrote “Judges that blatantly rule against the industry, parish presidents that stand behind egregious lawsuits and mayors that publically (sic) support egregious litigations to prevent oil and gas activity were elected at some point in time. These same officials can also be voted out of office.”
Briggs also singled out the Town of Abita Springs for filing suit against a plan by Helis Oil & Gas to drill one fracking well in St. Tammany Parish.
Well, the elected Mayor of Abita Springs wasn’t going to take that lying down.
Briggs’ column “is disturbing on many levels,” Greg Lemons wrote in a Jan. 27 statement. “I find it offense that Mr. Briggs would see fit to encourage efforts to quash the people’s rights to challenge a single industry’s attempt to circumvent established land use requirements in our community.”
Lemons said that contrary to Briggs’ assertions, residents of Abita Springs understand both the benefits and the risks associated with the oil and gas industry and that to pretend that the town’s suit was over one well was to ignore the fact that more than 60,000 acres have been leased for potential oil exploration.
Lemons has been an outspoken critic of Helis’ plans from the get-go and Abita has filed suit in Covington to prevent the well from being drilled. A separate suit has been filed by St. Tammany Parish in state district court in Baton Rouge.
Lemons’ concluded his statement by affirming his resolve in the fight.
“My job is to represent the people of my community, and they have told me what they want. I will continue to do my best to see their will is carried out regardless of Mr. Briggs’ threats.”
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter @faimon.