NEW ORLEANS – A bill that cleans up language in previously passed legislation that was meant to address how lawsuits involving land polluted by energy exploration activities are handled has passed the Senate unanimously.
Sponsored by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton and Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, Senate Bill 667 passed the Senate in a 37 to 0 vote.
The bill appears to be the compromise between large landowners and oil companies that Gov. Bobby Jindal announced earlier this year.
The bill aims to restore the intended effects of previous legislation passed in the 2010 and 2012 that were the source of conflict within the judicial system and parts of which were overturned by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
The legislation allows a responsible party to admit liability for the cleanup and in concert with the Department of Natural Resources develop a plan to remediate the land. It will also clarify the types of damages that may be recovered and provide attorney’s fee to parties who receive dismissals, such as in cases where lawsuits that are brought without hard evidence of contamination.
Although the original bill also provided that landowners must prove contamination on their lands before a lawsuit goes forward, that portion of the bill was removed via an amendment.
The bill also only applies to future legacy lawsuit cases and will allow about 300 current lawsuits to continue under existing law.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure.