MANDEVILLE, La. - Concerns about a proposed fracking project in St. Tammany Parish have hit a fever pitch. And while leaders have hired an attorney to research the parish’s rights when it comes to fracking, Councilman Marty Gould is taking a different approach.
"We need to approach this from a realistic standpoint that it could possibly happen and we need to have as many protections in place as we possibly can," he said.
One of his ideas, still in the making, would put limits on where drilling locations can be set up, compared to where dozens of water wells currently are. Gould said, “It actually establishes distances recommended by DEQ anywhere from 1,000 feet to a mile away from an existing water well."
While residents appreciate looking forward, they say the focus should first be on keeping fracking out altogether.
Terri Lewis Stevens, with Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany said, "Even if you put restrictions on the distance between the actual location of the entry well, hydraulic fracturing, by its nature can go horizontally a mile or more."
Industry experts say actions like the one Gould is proposing, are actually the first steps down the path of banning fracking without actually banning it.
Charlotte Batson, with Tuscaloosa Energy Services said, “This sort of brings to mind a similar kind of approach taken by the state of New York, in which there have been many delays, much studying, similar kind of setbacks proposed."
Experts also say just talk against fracking could keep companies away, in more ways than one, and they hope common ground can be found on the issue.
"It would be very concerning to me to see the region miss out on this income injection, the local jobs created for people," she said, “and for many other respects that would benefit the local economy.” Helis Oil & Gas sent us a six-page statement this afternoon addressing many concerns expressed about its fracking plans.