North shore group sends cease & desist letters over fracking pro - - The News for South Mississippi

North shore group sends cease & desist letters over fracking proposal

A north shore group has sent cease-and-desist letters to the Army Corps and LA DEQ over a proposed fracking site near Mandeville. The Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany say there are issues with the applications filed by Helis Oil & Gas Co.

Helis Oil & Gas wants to drill a well, but before that happens, the company must be granted permits for the project. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing the issue now, but attorney Marianne Cufone said there are serious issues with the application Helis submitted.

"What we noticed on the documents is that there are some requirements missing that are standards in the current law, so therefore the application is not a complete application," Cufone explained.

Cufone said she believes the public comment period required by law for the project is also in jeopardy, because the Army Corps of Engineers only posted a summary of the project online -not the full application.

"We realized that it would be very difficult for the public to make a full comment on the issue if they don't have the full permit application from the Army Corps of Engineers," Cufone said.

Working with the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany, Cufone sent cease-and-desist letters to both the Louisiana DEQ and the Army Corps. The Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany have voiced concerns about the project and the use of fracking. Some fear the technique, which is used to extract oil and gas, could contaminate the water supply. But a representative for the oil industry said that's simply not true.

"The Environmental Protection Agency at the federal level has now, I believe they're on their fourth federal study," said Ragan Dickens with the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association. "This study is about a $45 million study looking at the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water. Thus far, all of their studies have come back inconclusive, that, in fact, hydraulic fracturing has not contaminated any water sources."

Cufone said if the DEQ and Corps don't respond to the letters, they'll consider filing restraining orders.

"It would require the LA DEQ and the Army Corps of Engineers to stop the permitting process and require a complete application and then provide that to the public," Cufone said.

A spokesperson for the Corps said it will take the issue into consideration like it does with any other comment. A spokesperson for the DEQ says it too will take the matter into consideration.

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