Oilfield cleanup bill passes the La. House

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana House has sided with the oil and gas industry in an ongoing dispute with landowners and trial lawyers over how to clean up environmental damage done in drilling years ago.

The proposal by New Orleans Rep. Neil Abramson would change the legal process for dealing with so-called "legacy lawsuits" that seek millions of dollars in damage claims.

Abramson's bill, approved 82-19, would allow cleanup plans devised by the Department of Natural Resources to be admissible as evidence in a lawsuit for a larger damage claim, a move sought by the oil and gas industry.

Landowners and their lawyers oppose the requirement, saying the industry has too heavy an influence over DNR and could pressure them in cleanup estimates that would be reviewed to determine damages.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)