Louisiana MP pushes bills for the oil and gas industry – and her husband |  Louisiana

Louisiana MP pushes bills for the oil and gas industry – and her husband | Louisiana


MMore than 300 people were evacuated from their homes and 49 were hospitalized when an oil and gas pipeline run by an oil and gas company exploded in a rural community in Mississippi. People were described like wandering “like zombies” after the February 2020 incident.

Less than a week later, Sharon Hewitt, Louisiana state senator who has considered running for governorpresented a bill drafted by the pipeline operator, Denbury Resources, in his state legislature.

The law, passed in 2020, could make it even more difficult for Louisiana landowners to negotiate with CO2 pipes, which are used to transport carbon dioxide trapped from oil projects. The bill was established and signed into law the same year where Hewitt’s husband, Stan, received up to $ 4,999 as royalty from Denbury, according to Hewitt 2020 financial disclosure report.

There have been other cases where Sharon Hewitt, who previously worked at Shell, has insisted on laws that would benefit her husband’s company, according to public records shared by Floodlight.

Stan Hewitt has worked as an engineer for nearly a decade in LLOG Surveys. The company is among more than 200 oil and gas companies involved in cases brought by seven parishes, including New Orleans, over the destruction of the Louisiana wetlands, which protect coastal communities from storms and carbon offsets. primary emissions leading to climate change.

Hewitt funded two bills and one resolution aimed at counteracting allegations brought by coastal communities against oil and gas companies – including LLOG. In the last three years, she has established, funded and voted for at least four other pieces of legislation that will benefit the oil company in which her husband works or her oil investment.

Sharon Hewitt, her husband, Stan, and Denbury Resources, now called Denbury Inc, did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

“It’s very personal,” said Itai Vardi, a researcher at the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI), a group of observers aimed at exposing the influence of oil companies. “She looks like she’s just trying to answer these charges that target the basis of her husband and other companies. It’s one level above your regular Louisiana MP who can own shares in Exxon.

There long history at the Louisiana state headquarters of lawmakers who pass laws that benefit their industries, but public policy experts point to Hewitt’s record as evidence of the vast influence of the oil and gas industry in parliament, despite declining position in the country’s economy. Louisiana is facing severe storms, coastal floods and night-storms because of climate change, and legislators like Hewitt are digging to protect industry.

During the presentation of a bill drafted by Denbury, Senate 353 Bill, Hewitt in parliament May 2020. committee hearing he described the move as “a good example of cooperation between departments and industry”.

Public documents shared by Floodlight and EPI show that Hewitt worked closely with the oil and gas industry on a number of occasions, including drafting laws, writing testimonials to support and resolving legal issues.

Hewitt presented two bills and one resolution aimed at dismissing lawsuits filed by coastal communities against oil and gas companies. Photo: Scott Clause / AP

Hewitt was elected to the Louisiana state senate in 2015, after working for almost 20 years as a mechanical engineer and chief oil and gas chief executive for Shell. In 2018, Hewitt was appointed National Member of the Year by the US Legislative Council, a conservative group backed by an organization known for pushing for “model laws” – covering everything from gun rights and immigration to the control of the energy industry. – in state parliaments.

Critics say its financial relationship with legal action is an example of how Louisiana lawmakers interact heavily with the oil and gas industry and avoid corporate responsibility which, in turn, puts the government at greater risk for storms over climate change. air and flood.

“There is a step that goes beyond a conflict of interest until dismissal,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Law Enforcement (CIEL), a nonprofit organization focused on strengthening environmental protection laws and. human health.

A biography of Sharon Hewitt on her website says she “always advocates small government, small taxes, fewer trivial cases, and better jobs”.

Carbon capture

Hewitt’s original bill to amend the carbon capture regulations would reduce corporate liability to 10 years after carbon capture projects were completed, but that part of the proposal was scrapped. What used to be a rule could reduce how much a landowner could measure in a carbon dioxide pipeline.

Carbon capture has become a climate-friendly solution for oil companies, many of which have influenced technology in the state legislature and climate workforce. At least nine projects has been announced in Louisiana which will involve building carbon capture technology on new or existing equipment.

The technology allows oil companies to avoid reducing their emissions sharply and will need to build between thousands of miles of pipelines. nationwide. Those involved in the technology are in a better position to see investment from the federal government. President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Bill which was passed in 2021 it fits more than $ 12bn towards carbon capture and carbon projects.

The projects are aimed at extracting carbon from the atmosphere or trapping greenhouse gas emissions from a source of pollution. The carbon is then poured into a very cool liquid, which is transported through pipes and stored underground. More often it is used to force more oil from the ground – called enhanced oil recovery – resulting in increased oil production and the development of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Hewitt Act of 2020 essentially excluded landowners from the carbon capture pipeline route from the list of stakeholders to be considered. According to a series of internal emails shared by Floodlight, one Louisiana natural resources department official referred to the bill explicitly as a “Denbury’s CCS bill”.

“It is not surprising that CO2 Pipeline operator would remove pipes from popular domain processes, “ Carroll Muffett of CIEL sema. “The sad thing is that anyone entrusted with public trust would let them get away with it, especially since Denbury was the pipeline behind the Mississippi pipeline.”

The rupture of the pipe in Yazoo County, Mississippi, has left 49 residents in the hospital, many of them confused and struggling to breathe. The gas removed oxygen from the air, prevented human vehicles – which require oxygen from escaping – and he caused the inhabitants to foam at the mouth.

Environmental and social groups caution that carbon capture technology has not been proven to work, will not address other forms of hazardous air pollution and diverts subsidies away from renewable energy. A recent report by the United Nations Panel on Climate Change acknowledges that technology to extract carbon from or capture it from plants is needed, but emphasizes that the greatest need is to stop producing and using fossil fuels, and that the influence of industry hindering such development.