by Nelson Cole
Near Abita Springs, Louisiana; Helis Oil and Gas Company has been granted permission to use hydraulic fracturing to reach gas 13,000 feet underground (Louisiana Advocate). Local residents hoped to cancel the wetlands permit that was issued to Helis Oil in January 2015, requesting instead that they search for alternative destinations. After a year of delay on January 12th federal Judge Carl Barbier rejected the community’s efforts on a basis of what he felt to be a “lack of merit.” According to Barbier, the plaintiff (community residents) failed to suggest alternative drilling sites. Also, Helis provided “clear evidence that there were no other locations in the state that did not involve wetlands” (Louisiana Record). Thus because all other drilling sites are in wetlands the judge evidently felt this one should be permitted to be as well.
While it seems the granted wetlands permission of Helis Oil and Gas in Abita Springs could be the result of both federal intervention and a major gas company combining interests to potentially damage a community’s water source, that is not the case. An article written for the Louisiana Record provides quotes from an expert in the field: Harold Leggett, senior manager and regulatory director at Resource and Environmental Solutions. According to Leggett, “Impacts from oil and gas exploration are greatest during the drilling phase when drilling and support equipment is deployed.” Abita Springs residents feared the long term effects of drilling however, “site impacts are greatly reduced following completion of the well and installation of the collection/gathering system.” Furthermore, Fracking is highly regulated and the “EPA recently published a report on the impact of fracking based on available data and did not find significant environmental issues resulting from the use of fracking technology.” (Louisiana Record) It is natural and wise for Abita Springs residents to be concerned with the new oil rigs opening, but the true disconnect grows from a communities lack of understanding of the mechanics of horizontal drilling. In the following blogpost I will feature an article that clearly explains horizontal drilling for concerned citizens.
New Orleans Advocate