Judge Denies Taylor Energy Motion to Dismiss Clean Water Act Violations Suit

Crude oil leaking from Taylor Energy's damaged well stretches from the source to the horizon.

Crude oil leaking from Taylor Energy’s damaged well stretches from the source to the horizon in this photo taken on a Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper/Gulf Monitoring Consortium monitoring flight which was provided by SouthWings.

New Orleans, LA – Yesterday, the judge in a lawsuit (Apalachicola Riverkeeper v. Taylor Energy Co. LLC) brought against Taylor Energy for a leaking oil well issued an order denying most of Taylor Energy’s Motion to Dismiss and denied Taylor’s Motion to Stay the lawsuit. The Clean Water Act lawsuit was brought by Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Louisiana Environmental Action Network on behalf of it’s Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper program, and Waterkeeper Alliance in an effort to stop Taylor’s oil discharges of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Three claims by the plaintiffs said that 1) Taylor violates the Clean Water Act by discharging oil without a Clean Water Act permit, 2) if Taylor somehow has a Clean Water Act permit, Taylor is violating that permit; and 3) by discharging oil into the Gulf, Taylor is disposing of waste and causing or contributing to a situation that may pose an imminent hazard to the public or the environment. The Judge dismissed the second claim because Taylor has now admitted that it has no Clean Water Act permit for discharge of oil. Aside from that, Taylor has lost its motion and Waterkeepers will move forward with the lawsuit.

“This lawsuit is necessary because of Taylor’s slow pace in stopping the flow of oil from its wells into the Gulf. To the best of the Waterkeepers’ knowledge, this contamination has continued for nearly nine years,” said Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “This lawsuit is also needed because of the secrecy surrounding Taylor’s response to a multi-year spill that threatens public resources. BP took five months to kill the Deepwater Horizon well to the outrage of the Nation. In this case, Taylor’s leak has been ongoing for more almost nine years.”

Waterkeeper Alliance is a founding member of Gulf Monitoring Consortium, a rapid response alliance that collects, analyzes and publishes images and other information from space, sky, and the surface to investigate and expose oil pollution incidents that occur in the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf Monitoring Consortium has been pivotal in identifying and documenting the ongoing Taylor leak.

Oil leaking from Taylor Energy's well snakes past an unrelated platform in this photo taken on a Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper/Gulf Monitoring Consortium monitoring flight which was provided by SouthWings.

Oil leaking from Taylor Energy’s well snakes past an unrelated platform in this photo taken on a Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper/Gulf Monitoring Consortium monitoring flight which was provided by SouthWings.

An underground mudslide began this spill on about September 15, 2004, by destroying a Taylor drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico and burying up to 28 wells. Without details about Taylor’s response to this crisis, it is impossible for members of the public to assess the risk that similar events will cause additional multi-year spills, including spills from higher-pressure wells in deeper water. Because such spills may damage the Gulf’s eco-system on a scale comparable to or exceeding that of the BP spill, it is essential that the public learn from the 9-year Taylor response.

The denial has already generated some press:

Environmental groups’ lawsuit to stop flow from failed Taylor Energy platform cleared for trial – The Times-Picayune

http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2013/07/environmental_groups_lawsuit_t.html

Taylor Can’t Dodge Gulf Spill Clean Water Act Suit – Law360 

http://www.law360.com/environmental/articles/459028/taylor-can-t-dodge-gulf-spill-clean-water-act-suit