Sinkhole bills pass through the house floor without opposition

Photo courtesy of NBC33
Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 4:30pm

UPDATED: Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 8:45pm

For nine months residents of Bayou Corne have been living in the shadow of the sinkhole.

"Life has been different for almost a year now. I mean we wake up sometimes to the sound of a helicopter sometimes, airboat sometimes. And the gas coming up has been a major problem," said Dennis Landry, a resident of Bayou Corne.

But state representative Karen St. Germain is working to pass laws that would tighten rules and regulations on the entire industry.

"It definitely helps that we are using the catastrophe to make sure that it doesn't happen again. The legislation can't go back, it's not retroactive, but it is definitely starting from today," explained St. Germain.

Representative St. Germain told us she's more than excited to see the bill pass through the house floor without any opposition. But she's worried when it heads over to the senate side, the proposed law could start to change with amendments that would water it down.

"The amendment may be to take out a certain arena of the oil industry. But I have hopes that we'll be able to get it killed. We need to make no exceptions. This has got to be about the whole industry," St. Germain said.

Residents of Bayou Corne said the legislation can't fix what's happening to them, but at least if the law passes others won't end up in their same situation.

"We need these companies, we need the industries on the dome. We don't want them to leave, we need those businesses, we want that industry but those wells have to be put in in a safe manner and people who live nearby need to be protected, they need to know they're safe," Landry said.

There are two bills St. Germain authored that passed through the house. One would require companies to tell property owners how close they are to a salt dome. The other puts more rules on companies about where and when they can drill and how they report it all.

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