Thumbnail Image
Court Allows CWA Citizen Suit to Proceed

On January 30, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana denied an oil and natural gas operator's motion to dismiss a Clean Water Act citizen suit that alleges that the operator dredged near the shore of Lake Grand Ecaille without a permit. The plaintiff, the Louisiana Oystermen Association, Inc., alleged that the operator used tugboats to install a drilling barge near the shore. The complaint alleges that when the water became too shallow for the drilling barge to proceed, the operator "propwashed" -- a process in which the blades of the tugboats are used to create a deeper channel -- the bottom of the lake.

The District Court found that if the plaintiff's allegations prove accurate, that the operator would indeed be in violation of the Clean Water Act for dredging a jurisdictional water without a Section 404 permit. Accordingly, if the allegations prove true, the Court could issue an injunction to prevent the operator from further dredging without a permit, order the operator to restore any damage it caused, and impose per-day civil penalties for violations. The case is Louisiana Oystermen Ass'n. v. Hilcorp Energy Co., No. 16-10171 (Dist. La. 2017).