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Faircloth Letter

Faircloth Letter

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Published by latruthpac
A secret letter circulating to Legislators about oil and gas's dirty little deeds.
A secret letter circulating to Legislators about oil and gas's dirty little deeds.

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Categories:Types, Letters
Published by: latruthpac on Mar 22, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/22/2012

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THEFAIRCLOTHLAWGROUP,LLC
1412CentreCourtSuite203Alexandria,Louisiana71301Phone:(318)619-7755Fax:(318)619-7744
*LL.M.
in
LitigationBoardCertified-CivilTrialAdvocacy,
NationalBoardofTrialAdoocacu
AlsoAdmitted
in
Georgia
Jimmy
R.
March19,2012MembersofSenateCommitteeonNaturalResourcesMembersofHouseCommitteeonNaturalResourcesandtheEnvironmentRe:SB528(Long)andStatusof"Legacy"LitigationReform
On
behalfofourclients,RoyO.MartinLumberCompany,LLC,MartinTimberCompany,LLC,andtheLouisianaLandownersAssociation,werespectfullyrequestyourfavorableconsiderationofSB528byChairmanLongandyourcontinuedpatienceasweworktowardlegislationthataccomplishesthegoalsidentifiedintheHouseCommitteehearinglastsession.SB528istheproductofmanymonthsofmeetingswithstakeholdersandcarefulconsiderationofthelanguageofR.S.30:29("Act312")thathasproventobethesourceofpersistentlitigation.
It
dramaticallyimprovesthelegalprocessforresolvingcasesinamannerthatwillreducelitigationandencouragethepartieswhoactuallycaused"legacy"conditionstocommencelong-overdueremediation,butwithoutjeopardizingtheestablishedrightsoflandownerstoadjudicatelegitimateclaimsinthejudicialsystem.Wehaveinvitedandthoughtfullyconsideredinputfromallstakeholdersexpressinganinterest,includinglargeandsmalllandowners,LOGA,LABI,plaintifflawyers,defenselawyers,forestry,agriculture,sugarcane,majoroilandgascompaniesandindependentoperators.Forthepastseveralweeks,wehavebeenengagedinnegotiationswithrepresentativesoftheoilandgasindustryinanefforttofindacceptablelanguageforacompromisebill,withSB528asaframework.Thoughsomeprogresshasbeenmade,reachingafinalcompromisewillbedifficult,andmayprovetobeimpossible.Ordinarily,wewouldnotdiscussthestatusofnegotiations;however,becausethismatterhasbeenwidelyreportedandopenlyadvocatedbyLOGAduringtheprocess,andbecausesomanyofyouhavestressedtheimportanceofourpersistenceinreachingacompromise,wearecompelledtorespondtoMr.Briggs'sclaimthattheoilandgasindustryhas"compromisedeverything,"asreportedintheBatonRougeAdvocateonMarch18.Regrettably,theindustry'spropagandaisnowthreateningtherealityofthisprocessand,consequently,thepublic'Sconfidenceintheintegrityofthedecisionsyouwillhavetomake.
In
truthandfact,theindustryhasnotcompromisedasingleissueandseemsdeterminedtouse
this
processtoachieveanobjectiveitwasdenied
in
thepassageofAct312-usingtheexecutiveauthorityofLDNRto
 
Page2March19,2012manipulatetheoutcomeofprivatelitigationinthejudiciary.Nomatterhowindustryphrasestheirargument,
this
debatecentersontheindustry'sefforttoerodetheprimaryjurisdictionofthecourts.TheattachedMemorandumexplainsthisrealityandtheactualstatusofthenegotiations.
It
isimportanttounderstandtheextentofthepro-industrychangeswehaveofferedandthetentativeconcessionswearepreparedtosupport,contrastedwiththecompletelackofconcessionsmadebyindustry.
It
isalsoimportantthatyouunderstandwhyindustry'SabilitytouseLDNRinlitigationissopotentiallythreateningtolandowners.Simplyput,oilandgascompanieshaveconsiderableinfluenceovertheabilityofDNRtofulfillitsmissionofpromotingthedevelopmentofourstate'snaturalresourcesandrelatedeconomicopportunities.ThepotentialconflictposedbyDNRhavingtosimultaneouslypromoteandpolicethesameindustryisobvious.R.S.30:806createsa"firewall"betweentheSecretaryandtheCommissionerofConservationtobuffertheconflict,butmanyadvocatesinthelandownercommunityarguethatthisprotectionisanillusion.To
this
point,ourclientshavenottakenasideinthatdebate,butthepotentialforaconflictcannotbedenied.Withinlegallimitsitispermissibleforanypersonorindustrytoattempttoinfluenceexecutiveandlegislativedecisions.Butitisneverpermissibleforanyonetoexertinfluenceoverajudicialproceeding,directlyorindirectly.Thecredibilityofthejudiciaryisanchoredinthatpremise.Allowingtheoilandgasindustrytoforcetheemployeesofthedepartmenttoscreencleanupplansandtotestifybeforeajuryinalllegacycaseswillunfairlyinserttheindustry'Slobbyinginfluenceintojudicialproceedings.Tobeclear,weunderstandandagreethatinallcasesthedepartment'srecommendationsforaregulatorycleanupshouldbeprovidedtothejudgewhomustformulatearegulatorycleanup(asprovidedbySB528).However,whiletheremaybecircumstancesthatwarrantthedepartmentparticipatinginthejuryportionofatrial,thedecisionastowhetherthepublicinterestjustifiesputtingagencyemployeesthroughtherigorsofcrossexaminationinprivatelitigationshouldbemadebytheagencythatisobligatedtoprotectthepublicinterest,notbytheindustrythatspendsenormousresourcespressuringthosesamepublicservants.SB528strikesanappropriatebalance.Weremainhopefulthatacompromisewillbereached.OurclientsareendorsingmajorchangesinAct312torespondtoindustry'spromotedconcerns.Wearehopefulthattheindustryadvocateswillrespecttheboundariesoflandownerrightsthatmustbepreserved.
 
Page3March19,2012Withbestregards,IamSincerely,JRF/abEnclosurecc:Mr.RoyO.Martin,IIIMr.PaulFrey,ExecutiveDirector,LouisianaLandownersAssociationSenatorJohn
A.
Alario,Jr.,SenatePresidentRepresentativeCharlesE."Chuck"Kleckley,SpeakeroftheHouseRepresentativeNeil
C.
Abramson,ChairmanHouseCommitteeonCivilLawandProcedureSenatorRobertAdleySenatorJean-PaulJ.MorrellRepresentativeRobert
A.
JohnsonSenatorEdwin
R.
MurrayMs.ElizabethB.Murrill,ExecutiveCounseltoGovernorBobbyJindalMr.ScottAngelle,Secretary,DepartmentofNaturalResources

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