Despite the fact that the property in question is not zoned appropriately for such operations, and the fact that the current ruling is under appeal, Helis Oil & Gas Company has announced that it will move a rig into place and begin drilling by the end of the month at their pad location near Lakeshore High School. All this comes after announcing that they are scrapping some of the testing measures to which they agreed to comply with. This suggests that Helis has no regard for the laws that are in place, no respect for the judicial process, and no concern for the safety and health of the population they wish to operate amongst. By extension, neither does the Parish Government, despite their involvement in the lawsuit. Below is a letter to Parish President Pat Brister from CCST’s Rick Franzo, for your consideration. – Timothy Gates
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Even while expending considerable taxpayer dollars in a legal action against the Helis Oil & Gas Company to enforce the parish’s state constitutional right to control its land use and prevent Helis from drilling in an area of land the parish has zoned residential, your administration undermines its legal action against Helis by actively allowing Helis to violate land use requirements through the company’s performance at the drill site of all manner of work activities related to its proposed hydraulic shale fracturing operation. As a matter of public policy, your actions are financially and legally imprudent, seemingly unethical, and intellectually dishonest.
Parish residents expect you to honor the high degree of trust they have placed in you as the parish’s highest elected official. It is imperative that you understand the specific powers and checks on the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government. In simplest terms, as leader of the parish’s executive branch of government, you are not authorized to make or create a land zoning ordinance, which is a responsibility reserved to the parish council, nor are you empowered to interpret the law, which is a power granted to the judiciary; your sole responsibility is to enforce parish land zoning requirements. If the separation of powers inherent in our system of government is still unclear to you, I suggest you read The Federalist, Essays No. 52-83, which explain the concept in precise detail. The Federalist is a series of 85 essays by three authors – Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. It is widely considered the third most important political document in American history, just behind the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution itself. It should be required reading for you and every other St. Tammany Parish elected official.
Clearly, you cannot faithfully honor your publicly sworn fiduciary duty to protect the legal rights of parish residents while you insist on serving Helis’ rapacious financial interests. You cannot willfully and recklessly continue to support a public policy which undermines the parish’s and CCST’s legal action against Helis, wastes taxpayer dollars and places your own political interests before the fundamental legal rights of parish residents.
In light of the foregoing, until the parish and CCST receive a definitive ruling from the Louisiana Supreme Court in the Helis matter, I call upon your office to take prompt administrative and legal action to ensure Helis ceases and desists from any work activities at its proposed hydraulic shale fracturing site. – Rick Franzo, President, CCST
Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany ccstp.org
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