Caddo commissioner calls for moratorium on oil and gas operations in parish

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CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Caddo Parish District 12 Commissioner Kenneth Epperson is calling for a six-month moratorium on drilling activity in his district after numerous complaints about noise and pollution.

Epperson said he’s been hearing a lot from his constituents lately but it’s been an issue in the area since 2015. Now, he’s calling for a temporary halt to drilling operations and the state is looking into what can be done.

“We are tired of it and we are at the point now where we are going to see what we can do to make our voices heard,” said Epperson.

Oil and gas operators can drill anywhere in the state of Louisiana without approval from residents in the area. Epperson said that’s an issue he’s been looking to change for years now.

“We are advocating on behalf of getting the rules and regulations changed as to oil and gas drilling,” Epperson said. “Citizens have been subjected to noise, dust, odor, and numerous complaints that have gone for years without being listened to.”

Residents who live in the area say the constant noise, odor, and potentially hazardous chemicals in the air keep them from enjoying the outdoors.

“The noise has been like 24/7,” said Juanita Sepulvado. “There have been nights where I had to put earmuffs on just to get a couple of hours of peace. you go out there some days and this dust is all in your eyes. I have an eye condition.”

“I could guarantee you most of the people working on those rigs, they don’t live in this community,” said Glen Moore. “They go somewhere else where it’s nice and quiet and the air is clean to breathe.”

During last Thursday’s Caddo Commission meeting, representatives from the Department of Natural Resources attended to listen to concerns people were having and addressed questions from the commissioners.

They are now on board with finding solutions for the people who live in the area as well as getting in contact with the actual drilling company, Pine Wave Energy Partners.

“Our district office is reaching out to operators in the area to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re hearing what can you do about it.’ We’re looking at our own rules and asking, ‘Is there something we need to mandate? How would we go about it? Do we have the authority to mandate what we think we might need to? Is there a better approach for that?’ We’re at that process,” said Department of Natural Resources Communications Director Patrick Courreges.

Courreges said that there are two aspects of a drilling process and those are mineral leasing between the landowner and contractor and physical drilling on the actual well.

“I am going to seek whatever can be done under the parish’s jurisdiction via resolutions, ordinances, or whatever to get some of these complaints addressed,” Epperson said.

He is also asking that the state governing authorities form a committee to address all operations of oil and gas drilling, permitting, leasing and listen to the citizen’s concerns and reevaluate and update the policies and process.

“This is America! I think we should be able to stand up when things are not right and be able to have our voices heard,” said Moore.

“No one should be subjected for someone to come into their area and do whatever they want without regard to the citizens’ rights and the citizens’ complaints. Those must be addressed,” said Epperson.

Epperson along with the Department of Natural Resources and Pine Wave are planning to meet sometime next month to discuss alternative ways to conduct oil and gas projects. KTAL/KMSS reached out to the company for a response but we have not heard back yet.

Several citizens said they actively seeking legal counsel with the intent of filing a class-action lawsuit if their concerns are not addressed.

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