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May 9, 2013

On the Need to Rein in Louisiana’s ‘Legacy Lawsuits’

Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, today invokes his state’s 49th-in-the-country ranking in ILR’s Lawsuit Climate survey, in making the case for the need for common sense lawsuit reforms in the Pelican State.

Writing in the Louisiana Record, Briggs points out:

Specifically in the oil and gas industry, nearly 300 legacy lawsuits have been filed against oil and gas operators who have drilled in Louisiana, with some of the drilling activity dating back five and six decades ago. Over 2,500 defendants are listed in the cases.

These legacy lawsuits, as Briggs points out, are those “filed by a landowner claiming that oil and gas operations, often many years ago, allegedly caused his/her property to become polluted and contaminated.”

In fact, ILR President Lisa Rickard wrote in a commentary last year that these legacy lawsuits are costing Louisiana jobs:

Legacy lawsuits are having a detrimental impact on the future growth of the oil and gas industry in Louisiana. By 2010, of the top 50 crude oil producers in the state, 28 companies had been named in legacy lawsuits.

Both Rickard and Briggs cite a study released by the LSU Center for Energy Studies which shows that legacy lawsuits have cost Louisiana 1,200 new oil and gas wells over the past eight years, $6.8 billion in lost drilling investments and 30,000 jobs. The study also shows that, due to the suits, Louisiana has lost $1.5 billion in wages for those directly and indirectly employed in the oil and gas industry.

Will the state’s policymakers take action to rein in these legacy lawsuits? As Briggs writes in his piece today, to say that Louisiana needs lawsuit reforms is the “understatement of the year.”

We agree.

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