By Vic Couvillion
Special to The Advocate
June 12, 2012
AMITE — The Tangipahoa Parish Council on Monday unanimously introduced and set for public hearing a proposal to regulate oil and gas drilling in the parish.
It’s the council’s second attempt to adopt an ordinance that, if passed at a June 25 meeting, would regulate the drilling and production of crude oil, natural gas and other minerals from formations located deep below the surface of the parish
Over the past year, thousands of acres of land have been leased in the parish for possible drilling sites.
At its May 14 meeting, an attempt to pass a similar measure failed. At the time, Council President Carlo Bruno and Councilmen David Vial and Lionel Wells agreed to meet with representatives of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association in an attempt to rewrite the original proposed ordinance.
Bruno said Monday that the trio had worked well with representatives of LOGA and that both parties seem to be in agreement over the new version of the proposed ordinance.
The council will vote on the proposal following a public hearing set for 5:30 p.m. June 25 at the parish Courthouse Annex.
The proposal requires that companies planning to drill for minerals in the parish obtain permission from the Parish Permit Office.
Companies planning to drill will pay a $750 per well fee. The original ordinance called for a $2000 drilling fee.
Potential drillers must also disclose the type of hydro fracturing fluid they plan to use in their well. Such fluids are used to smash or “fracture” holes in domes that potentially hold petroleum deposits.
The ordinance also requires that drillers secure appropriate state and federal drilling permits before seeking a parish permit.
The ordinance encourages drillers to use non-drinking water in their process and to recycle water used in production.
In other actions Monday, the Council:
PETITTO RESIGNATION ACCEPTED: Mike Petitto, of Amite, who represented District 3 on the Parish Council for more than 20 years, resigned through a letter read to the council. Earlier this year, Petitto was found guilty of two counts of malfeasance in office in the 21st Judicial District Court. He is awaiting sentencing on the two counts.
After the conviction, Petitto vacated his council position, and the council appointed Louis Joseph to fill Petitto’s unexpired seat. Bruno said he will ask the secretary of state for a special election to fill Petitto’s seat to be included in the Nov. 6 general election.
COUNCIL OPPOSES RAILROAD CROSSING CLOSURES: The council unanimously approved a resolution opposing the state Department of Transportation and Development’s proposal to close railroad crossings at Babb Street in the village of Tangipahoa and at Capace Road and Rev. J. White Road in the Independence area.
Bruno explained that in late May, DOTD held a public hearing, and when a large crowd turned out, DOTD told them they would not be allowed to speak and could only submit questions on cards. He said the crowds’ response was to walk out and DOTD canceled the hearing.
Melvin McElwee, Sr., of the Tangipahoa Concerned Citizens Civic Coalition, told the council that the number of fatalities at railroad crossings in Tangipahoa Parish is down, but by closing the three crossings, more deaths could occur because emergency vehicles would lose access to U.S. 51 and may be unable to reach residents who need help.