Judge dismisses Abita Springs fracking lawsuit

Judge dismisses Abita Springs fracking lawsuit

COVINGTON, LA (WVUE) - A state judge in Covington has dismissed a lawsuit the town of Abita Springs filed in an effort to block hydraulic fracturing.

The lawsuit was aimed at stopping Helis Oil & Gas Co. from fracking about four miles outside the town.

This week's ruling by Judge William Knight sided with Helis, and found the town has no jurisdiction to enforce Saint Tammany Parish zoning codes outside town limits.

"The town of Abita Springs has no right to bring the action sought," Knight wrote in his ruling, dated Wednesday, April 15.

Abita Springs filed the lawsuit against Helis and the state in December, maintaining Helis' project would violate parish government's zoning codes and be harmful to the health, safety and welfare of citizens.

"The question before this court is not whether fracking is or is not a good process," Knight wrote. "The court further is not the appropriate forum in which the decision of whether or not this particular drilling permit should be issued."

Knight's ruling also states, "Rather, this court is presented with the narrow issue of whether or not Abita Springs has the legal right to enforce the Unified Development Code which was adopted by St. Tammany Parish."

A spokesperson for Helis says the company is pleased with the ruling, which brings it one step closer to fracking in Saint Tammany.

The parish government's lawsuit against the state Department of Natural Resources and its Office of Conservation is scheduled to be heard Monday in Baton Rouge.

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