Letter sent to Parish Government and St. Tammany West Chamber from CCST.

Letter sent to Parish Government and St. Tammany West Chamber from CCST.

Friday, October 03, 2014

St. Tammany Parish Government
21490 Koop Drive
Mandeville LA. 70471

St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce
610 Holly Crest Blvd.
Covington, LA. 70433

Dear Friends

We call on local business owners, as we are calling on all levels of Parish leadership, to actively oppose an imposition of ‘Fracking’ by forces who have pitted themselves against the spirit and the letter of our Home Rule Charter.

As a statement of goals and principles, the preamble to the Charter clearly states it is the obligation of elected and appointed officials working for and with residents of the Parish to: “preserve and enhance the quality of life and the environment for ourselves and future generations.”

“Quality of life” and “the environment” are mentioned specifically and separately, implying that they are two sides of the same coin of community health, safety and welfare and each has equal weight in driving public policy toward the greatest good.

Most of us have grown up hearing the voices of preceding generations say two things about life and quality of life: (1) Only God can make a tree; (2) Money can’t buy happiness.

Under the LA Constitution, the St. Tammany Parish Home Rule Charter empowers its citizens to decide to allow or not allow any uses, including oil and gas exploration and production, in STP. This principle is reinforced by STP and its municipalities through the adoption of zoning ordinances that clearly establish ‘uses by right’ and ‘conditional uses’ in each zoning district. In the case of the proposed drilling activity, the target area is zoned residential. There is no language stating ‘by right’ or ‘conditional’ uses to permit Drilling for oil (by traditional or enhanced methods) in the St. Tammany Parish Code of Ordinances, or in the STP Unified Code of Development (UDC).

There is no question that a wave of oil and gas exploration and production, with its focus on hydraulic fracturing, will bring substantial changes to our home place. Depending on point of view, those changes represent either promise or threat.

For a small but politically powerful group, ‘promise’ is oil production; large royalties; the creation and control of drilling/production service jobs. For a great many who actually live in St. Tammany, ‘threat’ is irreparable damage to the air, water and landscape of one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse places left in the Gulf Region.

It only takes a glance at the ‘post fracking’ landscapes of Bossier, DeSoto and Caddo Parishes or of counties in Pennsylvania, Texas and North Dakota to see what aggressive exploration and production bring to a place in a very short time. Incremental clear cutting to create hundreds upon hundreds of 10 acre production and service pads simply is what it is – a devastation of the landscape and an abject failure to preserve and enhance the environment.

The less immediate, less obvious effects of hydraulic fracturing on our air, surface and sub-surface water resources are being studied by scientists worldwide.

While it must fairly be admitted that the jury of peer reviewed science is still in deliberation, a level of risk has been clearly established. There are risks to our collective health, safety and welfare that we should not be forced to bear on behalf of business interests on St. Charles Ave. or on behalf of a work force that is yet to be mobilized and moved into St. Tammany.

Speaking as your customers, we are asking that you demand a clear statement of position from your Chamber leadership on the issue of ‘fracking’ in St. Tammany. We are asking for the same commitment to clarity from our political leadership. With clarity, comes choice.

How is ‘fracking’ in any way consistent with the basic principles of the Home Rule Charter of our Parish? How can the leadership of the Parish or its citizens possibly choose to allow its impacts on an environment or a quality of life that we have all committed to preserve and enhance?
As customers of St. Tammany business, the choice to be made is wrapped in the statement: “If you want my business, show you care about where we live.”


Rick Franzo / President CCST Inc.

c/c: CCST Officers, BOD’S & Advisors