The Geologic Review Procedure: A Regulatory Intersection of Energy, Economics, and the Environment
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803
Geologic Review is an environmental geology program providing regulatory technical assistance to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and to three districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It assists in the implementation of section 404 of The Clean Water Act and the Louisiana Coastal Resources Program regulations, both of which impact oil and gas operations by mandating that only the least damaging feasible alternative be permitted. Oil and gas permit applications made to these agencies which involve significant environmental impact to vegetated wetlands or other environmentally sensitive areas have their geology, engineering, lease, and site-specific data reviewed and evaluated by the Louisiana Geological Survey in order to determine if any less-damaging feasible alternatives are available. Such alternatives may include reducing the size of ring levees and slips, reducing the length of board roads and canals, the use of directional drilling, and the use of alternate and less-damaging access routes, the goal being to avoid or minimize any environmental damage. If needed, a detailed review of the project economics is performed, and only those alternatives that do not render the proposed activities uneconomical are recommended. The permitting agencies then make the final decision regarding the proposed activities. Geological Review involves interagency participation; up to ten state, federal, and local agencies may be involved on any given oil and gas permit under review. Large reductions in impact are common and overall impact reductions since the program began in 1982 have been massive. Geologic Review is a successful and popular regulatory process that can and should be used as a model for oil and gas activities in other environmentally sensitive areas.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90158©2012 GCAGS and GC-SEPM 6nd Annual Convention, Austin, Texas, 21-24 October 2012