|Photo taken from Save Lake Peigneur's Facebook page|
There’s no understanding the Louisiana Senate’s stance against SB 200 — a bill proposed by Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, calling for a delay of the plans by AGL Resources to expand its natural gas storage caverns beneath Lake Peigneur.
SB 200 called for a five-year delay of the plans by the Atlanta-based AGL Resources to expand its existing two storage caverns and allow the state Department of Natural Resources an opportunity to understand the mysterious foaming and bubbling coming from the lake. That foam, according to Nara Crowley of the nonprofit advocacy group Save Lake Peigneur, was tested in 2006 and showed high levels of methylene chloride — a component of natural gas. Not only does the creation of additional storage caverns beneath the lake raise the possibility for a disaster like the Bayou Corne sinkhole, but also threatens the purity of the Chicot Aquifer, not to mention the safety of the 4,000 residents living nearby, says Crowley.
Though the Senate on Monday reconsidered its original vote from May 7, the result was the same: the bill failed 17-19.
In an email responding to Monday’s vote, Crowley writes:
Senator Mills' SB200 was reconsidered today. With a few hours notice we gathered 10 residents and Kathy Wascom, our lobbyist from LEAN to support our bill. AGL had an estimated 20 lobbyists of extremely well-paid lobbyists. Although we lost by a mere 2 votes, ordinary citizens battled against the extremely experienced lobbyists. In that sense we did not lose. As always, Senator Mills was outstanding, in fact I was pleased to hear one of the lobbyists complain that his persistence and commitment was annoying.In a comment emailed to The IND this morning, Crowley says she was disheartened by the repeated absence of one Acadiana legislator, Sen. Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, who missed both votes on SB 200, and the change of heart by Sens. Jack Donahue, Dale Erdey and David Heitmeir, who went from voting for to against the legislation.
The purpose of the bill was to stop the permitting process for at least 5 years to give time to truly study the numerous issues of concern; bubbling in the lake, contamination of the Chicot Aquifer, property devaluation and geological anomalies. The state’s policies failed the residents of Bayou Corne. After nine months there is no resolution. SB200 would have assured clear unbiased solution. The 19 senators who voted against SB200 have gambled with the lives of 4000 Lake Peigneur residents as well as the drinking water for numerous parishes from the Chicot Aquifer.