Legislative Update July 1, 2014

Sierra Club Delta Chapter was actively engaged with the 2014 legislative session in alliance with the Green Army and participant allied groups. The bills listed here are the ones we were most closely watching. The bills we supported are listed first, then the bills we opposed. The list has been updated to show the final outcome of each bill in the 2014 legislative session. 

Support

HCR 47 Broadwater This resolution requests DEQ report to the legislature what would be required to clean up Capitol Lake. Pending House Natural Resources

HCR 54 St. Germain Requests the office of conservation to study the effect of implementing certain requirements for operators of salt dome caverns. Passed House and Senate, Enrolled.

HCR 89 Foil Urges the commissioner of conservation to evaluate the appropriateness of restrictions on withdrawals from the Southern Hills Aquifer System. Started as HCR 52, substitute bill adopted House floor. ‚Äč Passed House, referred to Senate Natural Resources. 

HCR 102 Johnson resolution requests the Commissioner of Conservation to review the rules governing the plugging and abandonement of wells. Passed House and Senate. 

HCR 171 Garafalo Creates the Air Quality Monitoring Commission to study the efficacy and adequacy of the state's air monitoring system. Passed House Natural Resources with amendments 11/5. Pending House floor vote. 

SCR 100 Crowe Creates the Lower Pearl River Basin Ecosystem Study Commission Passed Sen Natural Resources Committee and Senate floor. Amended in House Natural Resources committee to extend commission and study period to 2016. Passed HNR, failed House floor vote 9/73, vote to reconsider fails. 

HB 148, Champagne Constitutional Amendment to require that monies received by the state from violations of certain federal and state laws associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill be deposited into the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund. This would prevent the governor or legislature from siphoning off BP money for purposes unrelated to coastal restoration. Passed House and Senate, returned to House with amendments, pending House floor. 

HB 458, Adams This bill allows Parish Government to recover actual costs and expenses from the responsible party, which results from the expenditure of resources or personnel during a declared local disaster or emergency. An example is the Bayou Corne disaster in which damage is to private property but the Parish has to provide police protection and monitoring for safety. Pending House Judiciary

HB 712, Greene Prohibits the state from paying interest on refunds for the overpayment of certain severance taxes. This would prevent an oil company from collecting interest payments from the taxpayers for overpayment of severance taxes. Amended in House and Senate to establish a schedule for the payment of interest on a claim for refund, Passed House and Senate. Signed by the governor - Act 658. 

HB 933, Montoucet Creates the "Louisiana Liquid Natural Gas Pipeline Law" authorizes the commissioner of conservation to regulate the construction, design and operation of pipelines transmitting natural gas liquids and associated facilities. Substitute adopted on House floor, becomes HB 1281 changing the bill to one providing for disclosure of rights of landowners regarding expropriation or condemnation of land for pipeline construction. Passed House, as HB 1281, referred to SNR. 

HB 936, Montoucet Authorizes a right of action by a property owner for environmental damages to property which occurred prior to the purchase of the property. Provides for rights of subsequent purchasers of a property relative to environmental damages. Pending House Civil Law. 

HB 957, Johnson Requires the commissioner to require the plugging of abandoned wells and wells that are of no further use and require surety bond associated with such activities. Reduces oil industry representation and increases environmental/wildlife group representation on the Oilfield Site Restoration Commission. Pending House Natural Resources

HB 1084, Brosset Creates Air Quality Monitoring Commission, requires continuous air quality monitoring on or near the boundary of industrial facilities with federally enforceable air emissions permits, requires reporting of emissions data in real time on publicly accessible website, and authorizes shut down of production that is producing toxic air pollutants above a level that presents a threat of adverse human health or threat to the environment. Involuntarily deferred in House Natural Resources. 

HB 1088, Billiot requires under certain conditions that prior to vacating any facility located on public land owned or leased from the state or any governmental entity, or prior to donation of any land to the state or such entity, the lessee or prospective donor shall conduct an investigation to determine the presence of any hazardous substance, requires remedial action plan. Pending House Natural Resources

HB 1117, Johnson Creates a groundwater classification system relative to developing minimum remediation standards. Classification system is based on the use of the aquifer, such as for public water supply, the yield of the aquifer, the quality of the groundwater in terms of concentrations of total dissolved solids, and the aquifer's location relative to other aquifers of differing classification. Involuntarily deferred in House Natural Resources over concerns about cost of extending drinking water standards to more shallow and lower flow aquifers. 

HB 1120, James Determines the Southern Hills Aquifer (Baton Rouge area) as an area of groundwater concern and limits groundwater removals. Pending House Natural Resources

HB 1275 Tim Burns (Previously HB 406) Provides specified procedures for notice, public hearings, and reports regarding permits from the office of conservation of the Dept of Natural Resources for operations that involve hydraulic fracture stimulation in certain parishes. Fails House passage 19/73. 

SB 209, Ward Requires Commissioner (of Conservation) to make rules and regs to control solution mining injection wells resulting in a cavern. Requires that permits include reimbursement to any person who owns immovable property located within an area under mandatory or forced evacuation for a period of more than 180 days. Applies to residential but not to commercial property. Sets value for reimbursememnt to replacement value of property 180 days before declaration of the disaster or emergency. Amended and passed House and Senate. Signed by the governor - Act 691, effective 8-1-2014. 

SB 236, Gallot Constitutional amendment to remove the "trigger", and instead start on July 1, 2015, the new maximum allocation of certain severance taxes to parishes in which severance occurs and the distribution to the Atchafalaya Basin Conservation Fund. Gives an earlier start to severance tax funds being returned to the Atchafalaya Basin Fund. Pending Senate Finance

SB 408, Walsworth Establishes a recycling program in certain stores for plastic carryout bags. Pending Senate Environment

SB 584 Mills Prohibits the issuance of permits to create or convert a solution mined cavern in Vermilion and Iberia parishes where the salt rock underlying a state owned water bottom has a manmade structural failure. Sen Mills pared down the bill he had presented in previous years to apply to only Vermilion and Iberia Parishes. This was enough to gain approval from the Senate Natural Resources Committee for the first time. Committee vote was 4/2. Pending Senate floor. 

SB 585 Mills Requires public notice for certain solution-mined cavern permits in Vermilion and Iberia parishes. Amended to delete Vermilion parish and authorize study until Jan 2016 of geologic structure, water withdrawal and foaming. No permits for solution mining will be issued prior to Jan 31, 2016. Commissioner (of Conservation in DNR) will promulgate new rules and conduct a new hearing process prior to issuance of permit. Passed House and Senate. Signed by the governor - Act 766, effective 8-1-2014. 

SB 634 Claitor Forms a Water Code Committee to present legislation by 1-1 2017 to address surface, groundwater, riparian rights and managemet of water resources by the state. Limits groundwater withdrawals. Voluntarily deferred in Sen Jude A committee due to substantial opposition from industry. Sen Claitor did pass from the committee a resolution, SCR 78 requesting the La Law Institute to create a water code committee. The resolution passed Senate, pending HNR. 

Oppose

HB 799, Bishop Requires certain entities to receive approval for the employment of special attorneys or counsel and provides procedures for requesting and approving employment of special attorneys or counsel. Diverts to the state any funds received for attorney fees as part of a settlement. The proposed laws significantly tightens restrictions on public entities authority to hire outside attorneys. This law would make impossible a lawsuit such as SLFPA-E vs 97 oil companies. Passed House 60/43, passed Senate 31/5 with amendments, House concurred. Signed by the governor - Act 796. 

HB 854 Garafolo Requires certain documents to be filed with the court before proceeding to trial in certain actions relative to oilfield remediation. The law would prohibit the court from proceeding to trial against a party who has admitted liability for environmental damage until the department has filed the approved feasible plan for evaluation or remediation of the environmental damage with the court. This law would require claim for remedial action to be referred to the state agency (DNR) before the claim could proceed to court. Testimony during hearing stated that this rule could delay going to trial for oilfield remediation 7 1/2 months. Passed House Civil Law, passed House floor 91/1. Pending Senate Natural Resources. 

HB 855 Henry Present law specifies that the secretary, the attorney general, an appropriate district attorney, or a local government may bring injunctive, declaratory, or other actions to ensure that only permitted activities may be conducted in the coastal zone. Proposed law specifies that the secretary, through the attorney general and a local governmental subdivision, may bring such actions. Proposed law removes authority to file such actions from district attorney or local government officials. Pending House Civil Law

HB 862, Robideaux same as HB 855. Closely prescribes procedure for a local government to file an action of alleged violation of or attempt to enforce coastal zone management rules. Pending House Civil Law. 

HB 1217 Lambert Same as SB 650. Authorizes DEQ to set standards for measuring CO2 from fossil fuel fired electric generating plants. Pending House Natural Resources. 

SB 79 Adley Present law requires that members of SLFPA-E shall be appointed by the governor from nominations submitted by the nominating committee. Proposed law adds authorization for the governor to fill a vacancy by appointment if he has rejected those submitted by the nominating committee. Passed Sen Trans cmte, pending Senate floor. 

SB 314 Martiny Exempts oilfield waste transporters from regulation by LPSC. Pending Senate Commerce

SB 423 Allain Provides relative to alternative dispute resolution in suits involving oilfield sites and exploration and production sites. Proposed law provides that all litigation making a judicial demand arising from or alleging environmental damage must go to mediation. Imposes delay in right of property owner to sue for damages. Passed Sen and House, concurrance pending Senate floor. 

SB 467 Adley Requires the court to stay proceedings under certain conditions in a lawsuit involving the remediation of oilfield sites and exploration and production sites. Present law requires the court to order the responsible party to develop a plan for the evaluation or remediation of the damage. Proposed law provides that if a party admits liability for environmental damage and a plan has been submitted to the department, the court shall not proceed to a trial on the merits until the department has filed with the court the approved feasible plan for remediation of damages. Failed to pass Senate Natural Resources committee. 

SB 469 Allain/Adley Sponsorship given to Sen Allain. Provides that entities included in Coastal Zone Management Act (only) can seek cause of action. Allows parishes to assert claims. The bill excludes SLPFA from having authority to assert claims. Heavily amended with language from SB 531. Passed Senate Natural Resources. Amendment by Martiny to take out retroactive failed on close vote 18/19. Bill passes Senate floor on 24/13 vote. Vote to refer to House Civil Law committee fails 43/49, referred to House Natural Resources. Passed House Natural Resources 13/6 after extensive debate. Passed House floor 59/39 after extended debate. Senate voted concurrance with House amendments 25/11 and passed the bill on to the governor. Signed by the governor - Act 544 

SB 531 Allain provides that no state or local governmental entity, except the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the attorney general, or the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), shall have, nor may pursue, any right or cause of action arising from or related to a state or federal permits in the coastal area. Applicable to all existing claims (retroactive). This is another of the proposed laws intended to stop the SLPFA lawsuit. This one attempts to stop flood protection authorities from filing actions. Originally prohibited parishes from filing actions but this provision has been removed. Involuntarily deferred in Senate Judiciary A. Language from SB 531 amended into SB 469 Adley who now cosponsors the bill with Allain. This is a controversial move to keep the bill alive and move it to another committee (SNR) where it was passed as SB 469. 

SB 546 Adley Provides that the governing authority of any political subdivision or local government of the state shall be precluded and preempted from making any claim or bringing suit to recover damages to property or seek injunctive relief arising from the activities of an oil and gas permittee Proposed law would be retroactive to all existing claims. Pending Senate Judiciary A

SB 547 Adley Places strict limits on agreements between public entities and private parties. Allows legislature to declare existing agreements null and void and applies the law retroactively. This is another anti SLFPA-E proposed law that would nullify the current agreement between attorneys and SLFPA-E. Passed Senate 27/10, pending House Civil Law. 

SB 553 Adley Specifies that a board, commission, or regional flood protection authority may retain or employ such special attorney or counsel solely on written approval of the governor and the attorney general and pay only such compensation as the governor and the attorney general may designate in the written approval. Proposed law would be retroactive. Passed Senate floor 23/15, pending in House Civil Law Committee. 

SB 581 Adley Requires cleanup plan approved by DNR to be most feasible plan. Precludes damages for or implementation of additional remediation. Pending Senate Judiciary A

SB 629 Adley Places the South Louisiana Flood Protection Authorities East and West as agencies within the executive branch of state government. The bill is specifically directed at killing the SLFPAE lawsuit against 97 oil companies for damage to coastal wetlands. Pending Senate Transportation

SB 650 Walsworth Same as HB 1217. Authorizes LDEQ to set standards for measuring CO2 from fossil fuel fired electric generating plants. The original bill allowed LDEQ to set less stringent standards for compliance than those required by federal rules.Committee amendment specifies that the plan would comply with guidance document promulgated by EPA under 111d of the Clean Air Act.  Presented on Senate floor by Senator Walsworth as authorizing the state to exercise its option to do a state implementation plan for limiting carbon emissions. Passed Senate, passed House. Signed by the governor - Act 726. 

SB 667 Adley when a party files a limited admission for environmental damage, the court will refer the matter to DNR, office of conservation, to conduct a public hearing to approve or structure a plan, which the department determines to be the most feasible plan to evaluate or rededicate the environmental damage under the applicable regulatory standards. The effect of the bill is to place control of cleanup in DNR and the governor’s office. Passed Senate floor 37/0, passed House Civil Law Committee with amendment to make it apply to all lawsuits for which a trial date has not been set. Passed House 73/18 after contentious debate. Goes back to Senate for concurrance. Passed Senate, signed by the governor - Act 400. 

 

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