The Louisiana Coastal Zone Litigation Is Doubtless To Stay In Federal Court docket | Grey reeds
In Plaquemines Parish et al. v. Chevron et al. U.S. Fifth District has decided whether to bring 42 lawsuits from six municipalities and the Louisiana Attorney General against a number of oil companies to federal or state courts. The allegations are that the company’s activities over the years have essentially destroyed Louisiana’s coastal swamps. Billions of dollars are at stake. The immediate question was whether the defendants were deported on time. They were, with the result that the cases will likely remain in federal courts.
A short story
The Louisiana State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act (SLCRMA) was enacted in 1978. Much of these disputes concern drilling activities that began prior to the law’s entry into force and whether those activities were lawfully started or justified. The Louisiana Coastal Resources Program’s Definitive Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) required that actual use or activity commenced in good faith prior to enactment in order to benefit from a grandfather clause in the SLCRMA. The meaning of “lawfully started or built” comes from the FEIS.
The petitions and the Rozel report
The petitions allege that the companies violated SLCRMA by failing to obtain the necessary permits for coastal use or by violating the terms of the permits they received. The municipalities argued that the grandfather clause did not apply because these activities were not lawfully started or justified before 1980. Plaintiffs denied any claim arising under federal law (with cases to remain with the state courts).
The petitions alleged that operations prior to 1980 violated statewide Rules 29, 29-A, and 29-B, field-wide orders, and orders from the Louisiana Stream Control Commission. The petitions outwardly revealed no grounds for dismissal of federal officials, and allegations of violations of Louisiana orders were unrelated to federal law.
The Rozel report was prepared by Plaquemines Parish and represented the position of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources on all 42 cases. The recently released report argued that the companies’ use or activity did not begin in good faith until 1980 because of deviating from good industry practices, such as digging canals rather than building highways and using vertical drilling instead of directional drilling, earth pits Used on wellheads in place of steel tanks, produced too much oil and not built saltwater re-injection wells.
According to the court, the report first unveiled a new legal theory: corporations did not lawfully commence operations until 1980 due to acts during World War II, while corporations operated under the supervision of the Petroleum Administration for War.
The only question in court was whether the removal was on time, and it was. The defendants could not infer from the petitions that this was behavior from the time of the Second World War. Prior to the Rozel report, companies had no way of linking the alleged SLCRMA violations to federal guidelines dating back to WWII.
In 2013, the entirety of the 382-page FEIS was appended to briefs citing the FEIS for suggestions that did not make the removal of federal officials unambiguous and secure. The FEIS itself has shown no causal link between a federal wartime guideline and the alleged misconduct of the companies. The FEIS indicated that World War II activities could possibly be relevant, but did not make the distance unambiguously clear and safe.
The court did not come to the underlying question of jurisdiction, whether there is federal civil servant jurisdiction. The case has been referred back for consideration of this issue.
This is a case of two musical interludes, your state court and your federal court.