HOUMA, La. — Terrebonne Parish officials are preparing state legislation that aims to give communities more authority over where oil waste disposal wells can be built within their communities.
The Courier reports that the action follows a state Supreme Court decision earlier this month that cleared the way for Vanguard Environmental of Houma to construct such a well close to a neighborhood. The company's position, upheld by the courts, is that a state law requiring a 500-foot buffer around such sites should take precedence over a local ordinance that requires a one-mile buffer zone.
State Rep. Gordon Dove, of Houma, said he supports legislation to allow local governments control over oil waste disposal sites. Dove is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which votes on laws related to oil and gas production and environmental standards.
Such legislation would fly in the face of decades of precedent across the country that exempted oil waste, specifically exploration and production waste water, the classification of being non-hazardous.
In the Terrebonne Parish lawsuit, the court decided that the parish still has authority to regulate hazardous waste and solid waste, but not oil and gas waste.