Lawmakers filed their final round of legislation for the ongoing regular session last week and included was a batch of bills and resolutions targeting last year’s unprecedented oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Senate Bill 184 by Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, is also modeled slightly off of a post-Katrina policy enacted by former Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Crowe’s bill would essentially abolish, until 2021, most legal deadlines for filing lawsuits and other measures related to the BP spill.
Another proposal from the lower chamber would make “null, void and unenforceable” all settlements and releases executed by BP that lets the energy giant off the hook for “any future medical care or related benefits for any latent illness or disease medically proven to be caused by the BP oil spill.” That means coastal residents who have already settled with BP, but later come down with an ailment caused the dispersant or escaped oil, would be able to get more money out of the company – despite the original agreement prohibiting such measures.
Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, is the sponsor of House Bill 389, which has been assigned to the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee. The proposed law “shall apply to all settlements and releases entered into on or after April 20, 2010 – the date of the actual explosion.
Rep. Truck Gisclair, D-Larose, has introduced House Concurrent Resolution 48. It urges the state Department of Health and Hospitals to “investigate any health conditions suffered by responders to the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and provide direction for the long-term health care of these individuals.” BP, Transocean Offshore Drilling, Halliburton Energy Services and Cameron International Corporation have all been named the responsible parties for the explosion and aftermath.
Offshore vessel crews, shoreline cleanup workers and other early responders spent significant amounts of time on the water and are now facing long-term health problems, Gisclair said. He added that they were subjected to multiple substances and chemical mixtures, including raw and weathered crude oil, dispersants, and combustion by-products.
The New Orleans-based Louisiana Bucket Brigade recently conducted nearly 1,000 health related surveys in southeast Louisiana and found that “almost three quarters of respondents who believed they were exposed to crude oil or dispersant also reported experiencing symptoms.” Additionally, “nearly half of all respondents reported an unusual increase in health symptoms — coughing; skin and eye irritation; headaches – consistent with chemical exposure.”
As for natural resources, Senate Bill 240 by Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, authorizes leases significantly impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to obtain substitution leases from the state.
Finally, there’s lighter fare, like Senate Resolution 12 by Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans. It “commends William Harold ‘Billy’ Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish president, for his exemplary leadership during the BP oil disaster.” Nungesser, a Republican, recently announced that he will be a candidate for lieutenant governor later this fall.