Meeting turns testy as residents become frustrated with Helis presentation

Meeting turns testy as residents become frustrated with Helis presentation

MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - A meeting was held Wednesday on the north shore, billed as a chance for Helis Oil Co. and fracking opponents to make presentations, and for residents to voice their opinions.

But many became angry with the format as the Helis presentation neared its second hour.

"The oil company is taking a really long time," said Mandeville resident Melissa Pearson. "I understand they're putting a lot of things into record, but they could do that in other and public comment. So, they're kind of wasting our time."

"It's obvious that they're filibustering because they all want us to get frustrated and leave," said Mandeville resident Richard Boyd. "Because they are rambling on with technical stuff they already know. …What they get out of the ground is not worth the risk to contaminate any of that water. We depend on that for our livelihood."

Many in the crowd had signs protesting the Helis fracking proposal, and the meeting is unusual because the State Department of Natural Resources typically does not hold public hearings.

Helis delivered many technical details about their plans to frack in St. Tammany, and supporters said it would bring benefits to the local economy.

"If we start turning our backs on the oil and gas industry, who do everything possible to be as safe as possible - you gotta have the business," said Larry Rase with the Northshore Business Council. "You gotta have the oil. You gotta get off the dependence of other countries."

Helis wants to drill its well northeast of Mandeville, but continues to prompt strong reaction and emotions from people who live in the area.

Some residents walked out of Wednesday's meeting, but others said they would stay until the very end.

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