Never Let a Disaster Go To Waste

South central Louisiana experienced massive flooding in August, causing destruction on par with Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy. Nevertheless, some environmental groups seized the opportunity to advance their own agendas in the wake of the flooding.

According to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, over 145,000 homes and 12,000 businesses employing 136,000 people are located within the flood area. Over 360,000 people live and work within the flood areas. Most did not have flood insurance to deal with the estimated $20 billion in damages. Continue reading “Never Let a Disaster Go To Waste”

A Lack of Due Diligence Can Lead to High Penalties in Louisiana

Oil and gas production facilities and associated tank batteries are routinely bought and sold in Louisiana without proper due diligence. In other words, they are purchased without checking the full regulatory status of the facilities. This ignorance has led to high penalties. Continue reading “A Lack of Due Diligence Can Lead to High Penalties in Louisiana”

Regulation of Oil and Gas Activities in Texas, Louisiana

Oil and gas E&P operations are regulated by a variety of agencies in varying degrees and forms. Jurisdictional lines overlap and are sometimes blurred to a point where it is increasingly difficult for operators to understand which agency is regulating which activity. Adding to the confusion, operators from one state may conduct regulated activities in another but not fully understand the applicable regulatory regime. The information in this article, although certainly not definitive, may shed some light on the regulation of waste and air emissions. Continue reading “Regulation of Oil and Gas Activities in Texas, Louisiana”

Why Should You Worry About Environmental Laws?

Environmental laws and regulations govern many activities in the construction and aggregates industries. Due to the nature and complexity of environmental regulation, this brief summary simply cannot comprehensively explain everything that may affect you and your business. However, it will touch on three of the main areas (water, air, and waste) and provide some basic information so you can generally assess whether you may have an issue that needs to be addressed. As Ben Franklin once said – “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Why is this important? Inspections and potential enforcement actions by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) are bad enough. But, other time-consuming actions could hamper your company as a result of unknowingly violating environmental laws. Third-parties, such as neighbors or environmental groups, have the right to file a ‘citizen’s suit’ against your company for environmental violations. General laws of nuisance, trespass, and tort may form the basis for a suit. When wetlands may be involved, the Corps of Engineers may issue stop-work orders, shutting down your job. Continue reading “Why Should You Worry About Environmental Laws?”

2012 Regular Legislative Session —Update on Environmental Legislation

The 2012 Regular Legislative Session ended on June 4, 2012. Most of the environmental bills we were watching never made it out of committee. As of this writing, though, several are awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Legacy Lawsuits

HB 618 (Abramson and others) allows any party in a civil matter alleging environmental damage under La. R.S. 30:29 or the LDNR to request the development of an environmental management order. The order will allow access to the property for inspections and testing and mandates sharing of the test results. It also allows a “limited admission” of liability which is not to be constructed as an admission of liability for damages under Section 30:29 or a waiver of any rights or defenses. Instead, the admission is limited to the implementation of the most feasible plan to remediate all or a portion of contamination to applicable regulatory standards. Relates to Code of Civil Procedure Articles 1552 and 1563. Continue reading “2012 Regular Legislative Session —Update on Environmental Legislation”

Environmental Protection at Construction Sites

Both Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) seek, through regulation, to limit the pollutants that are discharged from construction sites. Some recent developments may impact your current or future operations at these types of sites.

Stormwater Management

EPA tightened its regulation of storm water discharges from construction sites. These regulations, formally called effluent limitations guidelines, or ELGs, are essentially more detailed and elaborate best management practices (BMPs) to be used during construction activities. By using these more stringent and detailed BMPs, EPA hopes to decrease the amount of pollutants, such as oil and grease or sediments, in the storm water that leaves a construction site. Continue reading “Environmental Protection at Construction Sites”

In re: Harrelson Materials Management, Inc., 2010-1950 (La. App. 1 Cir. 6/10/11)

The First Circuit upheld a permit to an existing solid waste facility.

Basic Facts

Harrelson Materials Management, Inc. operated a Type III solid waste landfill near the City of Shreveport.  The facility had operated in that location since the later 1980s and received an initial Order to Upgrade in 1994.  Its original permit application, submitted in 1995, stated that the total area of the facility was 29.86 acres.  The local zoning authority confirmed in 1998 that the facility had a non-conforming use under local zoning ordinances, allowing it to operate within that acreage as a solid waste landfill.

In 2004, a revised application was submitted in which the total acres for which the permit was requested was increased to about 75 acres.  LDEQ issued a series of notices of deficiencies, essentially requesting that Harrelson provide proof that the entire 75 acres had been approved by the local zoning authority.  When Harrelson did not, or could not, LDEQ denied the revised application and rescinded the Order to Upgrade.  Thereafter, in 2007, Harrelson submitted another application limiting the scope of the permit request to the original 29.86 acres (which had received non-conforming use approval in 1998).

LDEQ, after public notice and a comment period, issued a standard permit to Harrelson.  LEAN filed a petition for review of the permit. Continue reading “In re: Harrelson Materials Management, Inc., 2010-1950 (La. App. 1 Cir. 6/10/11)”

In re: Oil & Gas Exploration, Development & Production Facilities Permit, No. LAG260000, 2010-1640 (La. App. 1 Cir. 6/10/11), 2011 WL 2297790

The First Circuit held that LDEQ issued a general permit in a procedural fashion without individualized consideration or a fair balancing of environmental factors.

Basic Facts

LDEQ reissued an NPDES general permit for discharges of pollutants from oil and gas production into the territorial seas of Louisiana as an LPDES general permit.  The LPDES general permit governs discharges of deck drainage, produced water, sanitary wastewater, and other such discharges from facilities into the territorial seas from exploration, development, and production facilities.

The original NPDES general permit was issued in 1997 and expired in 2002 but was administratively continued by LDEQ pending its review of the application for renewal.  In responding to public comments and in its Basis for Decision, LDEQ noted that the provisions in the draft general permit were developed primarily using the federal effluent guidelines for the offshore sub-category of the oil and gas extraction point source category and that an Environmental Impact Statement concluded in 1996 that discharges under the NPDES general permit would not cause cumulative impacts. Continue reading “In re: Oil & Gas Exploration, Development & Production Facilities Permit, No. LAG260000, 2010-1640 (La. App. 1 Cir. 6/10/11), 2011 WL 2297790”

LDEQ’s Proposed Revisions to the Solid Waste Regulations

The LDEQ has published a proposed update to the solid waste regulations. No. SW053. A public hearing will be held on April 27, 2011 and comments are due by May 4, 2011.

The proposed rule contains revisions to the regulations which LDEQ states “will change the way solid waste permits are issued along with the application process for solid waste permits.” Notice of Intent, SW053. Several of the more important revisions will be highlighted. Continue reading “LDEQ’s Proposed Revisions to the Solid Waste Regulations”

LDEQ’s Spill Prevention and Control Rule Amendment

LDEQ finalized amendments to the Spill Prevention and Control Rule (SPC Rule) (LAC 33:IX.Chapter 9) on August 20, 2010.  WQ079.  Three main changes will be addressed.

1. A definition of ‘oil’ is provided.  Oil is “any kind or form of oil, including but not limited to: fats, oils, or greases from animal, fish, or marine mammal origin; vegetable oils, including oils from seeds, nuts, fruits, or kernels; and other oils and greases including petroleum, fuel oil, sludge, synthetic oils, mineral oils, oil refuse, and oil mixed with waste other than dredged spoil.”  Sec. 901.D.  This definition is identical to EPA’s current regulatory definition, which was added in 2002.  40 CFR 112.2; 67 Fed. Reg. 47075-6 (July 17, 2002). Continue reading “LDEQ’s Spill Prevention and Control Rule Amendment”