Add one more voice to the crowded chorus opposing fracking in St. Tammany Parish: John Barry, the former member of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East and author of the book “Rising Tide,” who stopped in Abita Springs Tuesday talk about the possible hydraulic fracturing well planned for an unincorporated part of the parish.
Barry admitted he doesn’t know much about fracking, and so refused to comment on the process by which water, sand and chemicals are injected deep into the ground to create fissures in rock through which oil and natural gas can be extracted. What he did say, however, was that oil companies had been evading their responsibilities under the law for some time, and he wants it to stop.
“The industry is trying to evade the law,” he said. Specifically, he criticized a handful of bills under consideration during this legislative session that he said would give the industry “virtual immunity” from lawsuits filed by local governments and individuals seeking to recover damages from oil industry operations.
Barry was one of the driving forces behind a massive lawsuit filed by the flood protection authority against oil companies for damages to Louisiana’s coast. After the lawsuit was filed, Gov. Bobby Jindal refused to reappoint Barry to the board.
Helis Entergy has applied for a permit to put a fracking well on a 960-acre tract north of Interstate 12 and east of Louisiana 1088. The proposal has caused widespread opposition, and residents have mobilized in person and online to oppose the plan.
Unlike at some other anti-fracking meetings in St. Tammany, members of the public were outnumbered by members of the press at Barry’s news conference Tuesday.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter @faimon.