On June 17, 2016, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied review of an appellate decision effectively terminating efforts by the St. Tammany Parish government and a group of citizens to block Helis Oil & Gas from drilling an exploratory well in the parish. With two justices issuing opinions in favor of granting review, the Court’s majority let stand a decision from the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit holding that Louisiana state law governing oil and gas drilling preempted the parish’s local master plan and zoning laws. The First Circuit also held that the Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation properly considered the parish’s master plan prior to issuing the permit to drill. Although the parish government and citizens group sought reconsideration of the Louisiana Supreme Court’s recent decision, the Court denied reconsideration, and Helis moved a rig to the site and began drilling an exploratory well last week. Ultimately, the goal of the company will be to drill into the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale if testing reveals sufficient reserves.
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