Two out of nearly 100 companies named in a lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) over damage to coastal wetlands have agreed to settle for $50,000. White Oak Operating Co. LLC and Chroma Operating Inc. have been dismissed from the lawsuit. Earlier this month, a judge blocked the state's attempt to thwart the lawsuit's progress with legislation adopted earlier this year (see Daily GPI, Oct. 7). Defendants' motions to throw out the lawsuit are still to be heard by a federal judge. The lawsuit was filed in summer 2013 (see Daily GPI, July 25, 2013). In response later that year, the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (LOGA) sued over the contingency fee contract that SLFPA-E used to hire its lawyers (see Daily GPI, Dec. 17, 2013). On Friday, LOGA President Don Briggs predicted that the energy interests would prevail. "Two companies, out of the 97 total, settling with the plaintiff attorneys in this coastal suit is hardly news," Briggs said. "The settlement amount of $50,000 is but a drop in the bucket towards the $10 billion that the attorneys are looking to rob from the industry to pad their ridiculous contingency fee arrangement. The Louisiana Legislature has spoken and in time the courts will dismiss this suit."
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has returned to being the sole pre-construction air-permitting authority in Texas, including for permits that address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The change marks a departure from the previous two-tiered system in which the TCEQ issued federally required prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permits for "traditional" pollutants and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued PSD permits for greenhouse gas emissions. The state has now qualified to become the GHG; however, the state still is opposing select components of EPA's GHG permitting program in the court system. "While the state of Texas continues to disagree with the EPA program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the TCEQ has a system in place to ensure timely permitting that provides stability and predictability to our state's regulatory framework," said TCEQ Chairman Bryan W. Shaw.