EXECUTIVE ORDER
BJ 13-08

Regulatory Review of Permits Related to Bayou Corne Sinkhole

WHEREAS,  pursuant to the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, R.S. 29:721, et seq., a state of emergency was declared through Proclamation No. 82 BJ 2012 (Threat of Subsidence and Subsurface Instability) due to the rapid development of a sinkhole, several acres in size, which threatened and continues to threaten nearby residents in the vicinity of Bayou Corne, in Assumption Parish; and
WHEREAS,  the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, R.S. 29:721, et seq., confers upon the Governor of the State of Louisiana emergency powers to deal with emergencies and disasters, including those caused by fire, flood, earthquake or other natural or manmade causes, to ensure that preparations of this state will be adequate to deal with such emergencies or disasters, and to
WHEREAS,  the Louisiana preserve the lives and property of the citizens of the State of Louisiana; and Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, R.S. 29:721, et seq., also confers upon the Governor of the State of Louisiana the authority to issue executive orders, proclamations, and issue, amend, or rescind regulations in order to meet the dangers to the state and people presented by emergencies or disasters; and
WHEREAS,  the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation, maintains statutory jurisdiction and authority to regulate the exploration and conservation of oil, gas, and other minerals pursuant to R.S. 30:1, et seq., and administrative rules promulgated pursuant thereto, through means including the issuance, review, and revocation of permitted activities; and
WHEREAS,  when a permitted activity poses a threat or creates harm to the environmental quality of the State, the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation is aided by additional state and federal agencies charged with the protection, response, and recovery of the State’s environmental quality; and
WHEREAS,  pursuant to the mineral conservation laws of Louisiana, R.S. 30:1, et seq., a declaration of emergency was issued on August 3, 2012 by the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation, ordering Texas Brine Company, LLC (“Texas Brine”) to undertake all necessary and appropriate actions to protect against damage to the environment and prevent threats to public safety associated with its operation of a salt dome facility in the vicinity of Section 40, Township 12 South, Range 13 East, in Assumption Parish; and
WHEREAS,  over the following months, it became necessary for the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation, to issue a multitude of additional emergency declarations, directives, compliance orders, and penalties to compel Texas Brine to effectuate the express purpose of the August 3, 2013 emergency declaration – protect against damage to the environment and prevent threats to public safety; and
WHEREAS,  on March 14, 2013, Texas Brine officials met with State and local officials and pledged to extend settlement offers over the following several weeks, including buyouts, to residents forced to evacuate their homes as a result of the threat posed by the sinkhole at Bayou Corne, and further agreed to reimburse local and state officials for the response costs associated with this incident; and
WHEREAS,  as of this date, Texas Brine has missed multiple deadlines to extend these settlement offers and no such buyouts have occurred, calling into question the willingness of Texas Brine to fulfill its pledge to the residents of Bayou Corne and others impacted by its operations, the company’s financial ability to meet the obligations created by its salt dome operations in Assumption Parish, and the adequacy of its insurance coverage for its operations in Assumption Parish and elsewhere at any of its other permitted sites in the State of Louisiana; and
NOW THEREFORE, I, Bobby Jindal, Governor of the State of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution and the laws of the State of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:
SECTION 1:  The Commissioner of Conservation shall conduct a complete review of the permits issued to Texas Brine in connection with its operations of salt cavern wells in the vicinity of Section 40, Township 12 South, Range 13 East, in Assumption Parish, as well as all permits issued to Texas Brine throughout the State, in order to determine if Texas Brine’s current financial condition indicates that such permit(s) should be modified, revoked and reissued, or terminated.
SECTION 2:  All departments, commissions, boards, offices, entities, agencies, and officers of the State of Louisiana, or any political subdivision thereof with any regulatory program implicated by the emergency situation near Bayou Corne in Assumption Parish, shall review to determine whether Texas Brine remains capable of meeting its regulatory obligations. At a minimum, this review shall include the following potential regulatory requirements in light of current conditions at the sinkhole:

A.       The Louisiana Hazardous Waste Management Program;
B.       NPDES Program under the Clean Water Act;
C.       Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program;
D.       Exploration and Production Waste Management Program;
E.       Dredge or fill permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act; and
F.       Other relevant environmental permitting and regulatory requirements, including, but not limited to any state permits issued under the Louisiana Coastal Resources Program or the Louisiana Natural and Scenic Streams System;

SECTION 3:  In light of Texas Brine’s inability to meet its previous commitments, the Commissioner of Conservation shall conduct a review of the ongoing financial ability of Texas Brine to meet the financial obligations resulting from its salt dome operations in Assumption Parish and elsewhere at any of its other permitted sites in the State of Louisiana, as well as the adequacy of its insurance coverage for the company’s operations in Assumption Parish and elsewhere at any of its other permitted sites in the State of Louisiana.
SECTION 4:  All departments, commissions, boards, offices, entities, agencies, and officers of the State of Louisiana, or any political subdivision thereof, are authorized and directed to cooperate in the implementation of the provisions of this Order.
SECTION 5:  This Order is effective upon signature and shall remain in effect until amended, modified, terminated or rescinded by the Governor, or terminated by operation of law.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF,  I have set my hand officially and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of Louisiana, at the Capitol, in the city of Baton Rouge, on this 20th day of May, 2013.

 

Bobby Jindal
Governor

ATTEST BY
THE GOVERNOR
Tom Schedler
Secretary of State