BEFORE AND SURROUNDING THE LITIGATIONS
The narrative in these new pages will take you to a few civil parishes, locations and courtrooms across this State. Quite a few of the individuals involved have passed on into their personal eternal reward but this story is not about any one person.
No one person could have accomplished the things that will be presented in these web pages. There must be a number of individuals working in concert to accomplish these sorts of things. It takes a collaborating "system" to perpetuate this sort of secret darkness for 33+ years.
All individuals are mentioned with dignity as to the person but the truth will be written. Wrongful actions cannot be lifted up as though they are right. Too many people are impacted by these sorts of actions.
It is a story much more about a systemic "machine" that really serves no one to the good. People come and go but the "system" remains delivering short term benefits for some with eternal consequences. In fact, that is what allows such a "machine" to exist over long periods of time. It survives the person. As a "group" things tend to get done that would never get done, if person's were acting individually.
As noted in other pages of this website, it is also not about political parties. That became clear over the years because this story will cross numerous administrations under different political party affiliations. Additionally, when required, individuals will change to a party that best fits them at a particular time in their career. That is just the way it is. This website will expose actions that bridge across locations and parties and persons.
Louisiana has drawn much of this legal dysfunction to itself because of the great wealth of the minerals that were here. Now that the amount of minerals seem to be decreasing, larger oil and gas companies are wanting to leave Louisiana. They are wanting to leave as cheaply as they can. Very often, that results in leaving behind old worn out infrastructure and environmental contamination. The result, legacy litigations. As local oil and gas local payrolls decrease, it is much more likely that the problem will be addressed by increasing numbers of Louisiana citizens who are not so dependent on those salaries to live.
When payrolls and billable hours are large, individual attorneys also oftentimes seem to allow themselves to be taken advantage of by the power of the "machine". It tends to be much easier to turn one's head on wrongdoings. Personal income to many is derived from corporations that produce and transport mineral products. Recipients of the prosperity of the times simply stay silent so that the system will not turn on them in retaliation and revenge.
Report a peer! Almost unheard of. One does not want to become an example of what can happen when one bucks the system that feeds it.
It is said, legacy lawsuits are running operators out of our State. That is only partly true. Decreasing reserves is the main issue that is pushing operators out of our State. If fact, prudent operators rather operate on property that has no contamination. If more reserves could be economically found and produced, legacy matters would be handled differently.
One large operator actually chose to not drill on the Blanchard property because of the contamination. Actually, in 1986 the author chose not to operate on the Blanchard property because of the contamination.
It is much like the "company store" type of existence that occurred on plantations in the past. Louisiana has sold its soul to the company store and the public suffers. All this leads to commerce lost today!
For attorneys, that "turning" on the wrong person of power could likely result in disciplinary action...but on the complainant. Disciplinary bodies, when used to discipline an honorably motivated attorney, could be very damaging to one's livelihood.
Having filed numerous complaints against lawyers and judges over the years, with no disciplinary action whatsoever, I understand how useless those disciplinary systems can be for a non-attorney to use. All in great secrecy.
Oftentimes, attorneys are now hired to file complaints against other attorneys. Ain't that nice. Attorneys have told me over the years that there is no way an attorney could do what this website will try to do. They would be disciplined for speaking the truth.
So many of these pages to be built will focus on actions that center around one piece of land located in St. Mary Parish, LA. That will be the hub from which the relational matrix will grow. We will start there in the Blanchard I Litigation and ultimately end there in the Blanchard V Litigation. The "Blanchard" list of pages will be built with information that is cross-connected to other litigations and they are all on the legend at the left. The cross-stories will at times involve many of the same cast of characters that will connect them. At times, some of these pages might not be viewable as they are further constructed.
As earlier written, much of this particular story will be about what oil and gas companies will do (and can get done) to avoid the full remediation of their environmental waste left under the surface and in the water and sediment across our State. Now that the "flush" production appears to be gone from the land and inland waters of Louisiana and operating it has reached operators' economic threshholds (seriously began in the 1980's), there is a continuous attempt by the biggest to leave the State without cleaning up the mess they made. An attempt to escape without being helf financially accountable.
As we know from BP's Deepwater Horizon underwater blowout in 2010, many of these companies have no conscience ... until caught or until it hurts the bottom line. Oftentimes, after it is too late for the locals. Read about the Three Little Pigs idealogy.
As to the seriousness of the contaminants they leave behind, mercury from mercury meters is a great example. Once the harmful effects of mercury began to be understood by the larger oil companies around the 1970's, operators that understood the ramifications of mercury in the food chain, rightly removed the mercury meters from the fields but wrongly chose to not to remove the mercury underneath the meters. (Inexpensive to remove the meters. Expensive to remove the tons of mercury left behind.) Based on news reports already published, over time, the author will attempt to build a prospective model for how many tons of mercury that might be left behind.
Mercury left behind is a harmful contaminant as was the contaminant in the Grefer case in Jefferson Parish. That litigation dealt with NORM (naturally occuring radioactive material). The operator apparently knew the NORM was there but let it remain on the ground.
As with that NORM waste, mercury remains. Operators know it is there but instead of locating it and removing it, they just let it remain on the ground, to be concealed over time and, to convert to harmful and invisible methyl mercury and enter the food chain. There is plenty of evidence of the harmful effects of methylmercury.
Mercury from mercury meters is not a NOW (non-hazadous oilfield waste) from the production stream of a well. It is not a protected hazardous material as NOW is. It is a hazardous material bought offsite and brought onsite and it should be strictly regulated as such.
There is a criminal side to leaving mercury sitting stored in old oil fields across the State. Comparitively, smaller amounts of mercury from other sources are identified and enforced with regulatory vigor. Why is not this massive source of mercury that sits in old oil and gas fields across the State also not rigorously enforced?
What may surprise some, by the Blanchard litigations, is how so many members of the State Bar and State regulatory agencies support, defend and allow the less than full remediation of such contamination. The most basic of housekeeping requirements are avoided by many operators, if allowed. This tendency is likely to continue as long as oil and gas operators are willing to pay (and are capable of paying) billable hours for legal defenses and/or able to support candidates who then choose State regulatory department heads that design State budgets that are far less than what is needed to fully remediate what remains. Of course, all condoned by our State legislature and administration. If it were not condoned, it would be changed for the public's good.
If we, as a public, cannot have trust in the governmental systems and the regulatory agencies that have been constitutionally designed to protect us in that area (and other areas) who can we trust? Where do we go? If one cannot go to the courts for fair adjudication of serious matters such as this, where will one go? As the Blanchard litigations have moved from one venue to another, that question has been asked many times by this author.
When material words were removed from hearing transcripts in St. Mary Parish, that question was asked.
When the entire litigation record was not returned by the court to the clerk in Jefferson Parish, that question was asked.
Most recently, when court reasons get prepared and then signed by judges that have no connection to the subject litigation as in St. Mary Parish, that question most lately asked.
In the first two litigations mentioned above (you can read about them if you click on the appropriate page on the legend), the facts were brought all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court ... no action. Again, we must ask, "Where do we go to get real justice?"
Since bringing such matters connected to the Blanchard litigations to the Louisiana Supreme Court for justice is an act of futility, the author has now began this website so to narrate the wrongs. The author cannot sufficiently describe the "circus-type" performance that has been most-lately been playing itself out in St. Mary Parish over the last months of the Blanchard V Litigation. Does this happen in all cases before that court? Of course not. But, it does continue to happen with great frequency in the series of Blanchard litigations. Can it happen in other cases. Of course it can. The author believes that this continues to play itself out in the Blanchard series of litigations because the court is now trying to protect the court from its own past actions in order to conceal how the court protected members of the court from the beginning. If fully known by the public, the court would loose all credibility.
Note: If you have read this far, may I suggest you now go to the legend at the left and click on The Blanchard V Litigation to read the latest happenings.
One symptom of an insane person is to repeatedly do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. The author has in good faith tried to gain justice in the Louisiana court system for 33 years. Well, it is time to try and regain at least some sanity and do something different. Although this is a new way to present certain facts, that will likely never be presented otherwise, the author's position has been publicly stated for years as evidenced by his written testimony at a public hearing of the LA Senate Natural Resources Committee in 2006. Thanks to Senator Butch Gautreaux from Morgan City for getting this testimony before that committee in 2006 when it was considering the final form of Act 312.
Within that written testimony there are two exhibits (Exhibit D and Exhibit E) that dealt with certain material words being removed from a written transcript from a specific court hearing in St. Mary Parish. With those exhibits, within the testimony before that legislative committee, one would think and hope someone would have cared enough to have investigated those actions within the court system and would have done something about it! Nothing was done! If it would have been addressed at that time by people with the legal authority to do something about it, it is highly likely the court's actions in the Blanchard III (years later) and most lately the Blanchard V would have never happened.
Senator Bret Allain replaced Senator Gautreaux in 2012. A simple map check of the St. Mary Parish Assessor's Office will indicate that Allain Land Company, LLC adjoins the subject Blanchard property on its northerly side and an inspection of the Office of Conservation records seems to indicate that ARCO's operations may have impacted that land as well. As the author's memory recalls, there were extensive remediation activities on or near Allain Land. If the records still exist (and that is questionable), it would be nice to see what has been done about those potential violations and who legally represented the impacted parties, if anyone.
LOUISIANA - THE PELICAN STATE
ST. MARY PARISH
PARK PLANTATION, THE INITIAL AREA OF INTEREST
Park Plantation as viewed from railroad tracks southerly along Penn Road
Park Plantation is a relatively small tract of land that is located in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. It is between Baldwin and Jeanerette and fronts on the westerly side of Penn Road. As the Park Plantation linked aerial shows, it is sandwiched between Highway 182 and U.S. Highway 90 and southerly of a railroad track that runs in an east - west direction. Deep within the interior of this land is the house where various parties have lived and do live.
When first viewed by the author, it was an operating sugarcane plantation but it no longer supports agronomic crops. Shallow pipelines were a major problem when the author first saw that property in 1985; therefore, those shallow pipelines made it hard to farm safely - although various farmers tried.
Many of those pipelines (or sections of them) were removed early on and/or over the years by various mineral operators. (We will get to the NORM issues connected to that at a later time on The Blanchard I Litigation page.) But for now, to evidence how important it was to assess and remove all NORM on property, I would like to supply two documents for you to consider:
Portion of John Hine deposition dated June 21, 1994
Lawyers Weekly USA concerning Grefer litigation dated January 7, 2002
The house on Park Plantation has been the residence of Joseph Blanchard and Betty Blanchard and Nancy Blanchard (Betty Blanchard's daughter). Later, John E. Conery (Betty Blanchard's personal attorney for a period of time and subsequently a judge) lived there as well. Since 2000, it has again been the residence of Nancy Blanchard.
But there were others that apparently had some regular access to the house as well. Documented phone call history shows that a "Thomas Hebert" also had some connection to the Park Plantation house. He definitely had a telephone line hooked up there under his name as discovered on February 28, 2000 at 10:25 am when Nancy Blanchard moved in after John E. Conery moved out.
She first called the author that day and Thomas Hebert's name showed up on the author's incoming name identifier. That was an "eerie" thing because Thomas Hebert had previously died. The author then drove to the house and telephoned a third party on February 28, 2000 at 5:26 pm to see what name would show up on another identifier. Again, Thomas Hebert's name showed up.
Until shown otherwise, that name will be assumed to be the same Thomas Hebert (with the Office of Conservation) that generated the Thomas P. Hebert affidavit that was prepared and filed on behalf of the defendants in the Blanchard I litigation. It was later proven to be an absolutely false affidavit.
Beginning in 1994 John E. Conery, Attorney began to offer Betty Blanchard legal advice that began to temporarily seperate Betty Blanchard and Paul Maclean. When reunited, Betty Blanchard wanted this affidavit prepared for future use so that others would know her position.
In spite of its environmental issues, that have been argued about for over 33 years, a large portion of the plantation appears to now be under a servitude actually paid for by the United States of America! (Wherever those funds come from, maybe it would have been money better spent trying to ascertain the reason for the health issues on Four Corners, LA, the small rural community, written about below.)
The Blanchard property has been the subject of numerous litigations but there was a point in time that pre-dated all the litigations. It was a quieter time but only because much information was being intentionally withheld from it owner, Betty Blanchard, who depended on others about land matters. Included in that group was her local law firm.
Before and after Joe Blanchard died and Betty became his widow in 1961 she relied on the legal guidance of a law firm in Franklin, LA. Betty Blanchard died on or about May 2, 2007, after many years of courtroom fighting to try and keep her land and her minerals and get her property fully remediated from its environmental mess.
She had tried for years to remove ARCO (now BP) as the mineral operator from Park Plantation. (Her personal efforts to do that even pre-dated the author's appearance in these matters in late 1985 and into 1986.) She was totally displeased with ARCO's production and remediation activites and tried unsuccessfully to get her demands addressed as far back as into the early 1980's. (Texaco [now Chevron] was a 40% interest owner in those operations.) She stated some of that in her affidavit dated October 5, 2000.
Note: Betty Blanchard signed a number of affidavits prior to her death. She wanted certain facts brought forth in the event she died without being able to personally testify to the information in the affidavits. She believed that after her death this information might remain silent forever, if not formalized by affidavits. Since lawsuits have been unsuccessful in trying to bring forth the information that would addess her concerns, those affidavits will now be presented for public viewing throughout these pages in appropriate places - as they are needed.
Newman Trowbridge, Jr., was one of her attorneys in the law firm that represented her for years. William F. Wessell (a New Orleans attorney) had personally represented Betty Blanchard on matters other than oil and gas. He began to ask a few key questions in his letter to Newman Trowbridge on her behalf on November 14, 1986. Trowbridge answered his letter by his own letter on December 2, 1986 whereby he self-admitted certain activities with his business associates concerning Park Plantation. (Note: It would have been nice if Bill Wessell had continued to press on these matters but he did not.) Trowbridge died on May 20, 2009.
One of Betty Blanchard's main contentions in the litigations, that followed over the following 33+ years, was that her land had been environmentally contaminated by ARCO's operations, it had not been fully cleaned, and that the contamination impacted not only her land but the land of others as well and/or the waterways that surrounded her. She wanted her land fully enironmentally restored and she wanted ARCO off. Much of the contamination concerns can be found in at least (but not limited to) the following:
OC Legacy Project No. 023 -007-001
Compliance Order No. E-I & E-05-0233
Compliance Order No. E-I & E-09-0110
Compliance Order No. E-I & E-06--0351
Nancy Blanchard & Park Plantation, LLC vs Linder Oil Company, et al; No. 606-555, 24th JDC, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana (Also known as the Blanchard III litigation.)
A few relatively recent letters in the public files of those cited environtmental actions stated issues and concerns as of the date of the respective letters:
Should one have an interest and visit any of the actions named above, you will see much more.
Also, extremely important, due to the use of mercury meters for years on Park Plantation, there has always been a concern over mercury contamination on the property and the waterways connected to it. Mercury from this source is not as a nonhazardous oilfield waste (NOW). This source of mercury is bought at supply houses, etc. then brought onto the site and then dropped on the land over the years. This source of mercury is not part of the production stream.
One 1995 letter that describes the presence of mercury (at the date of that letter). Please note the comments about mercury presence found in waterway sediments and fish. Then, in 2003, years after all the mercury was supposedly removed, and years after the Blanchard I litigation was purportedly settled, more mercury is found and this incident report was generated. (This will all be addressed in the future on a website litigation page titled: Paul Maclean vs. G. Tim Alexander, III, et al.
Back to mercury contamination. Mercury contamination from mercury meters is a known hazardous material remaining on properties across Louisiana. This is a reality. A 1993 article discusses just a bit about that fact. But, there are many more articles that speak to the same health risk. More of these articles will be included over time. In the meantime, if the interested reader would just do a little research on the matter, that could easily be discovered and verified. (As to the 1993 article itself, It would be very interesting to now see the report mentioned by Mike Lyons that would list how many mercury meters are in the field and to find out if mercury is under them.)
There is a multitude of information about mercury in Louisiana waterways and its effects upon the food chain and its detrimental health effects. More articles will be included as these pages are built. One needs only go to the Louisiana Department of Enviornmental Quality (LDEQ) website to see much more readily available information. The question is why is this source of mercury poisoning from old oil and gas meters not being fully addressed across the State? A question much larger than this website can answer.
To the author's knowledge, there has never been evidence produced that all the mercury under each old mercury meter site on Park Plantation (and/or any other meter site in South Jeanerette Field) has been fully removed. Based on LDEQ files, depositions taken in the Blanchard I Litigation and communications with LDEQ, one would actually be led to believe the mercury has not all been removed. A fact that continues to get harder to prove over time because of what happens to elemental mercury over time. As long as the mercury remains in the elemental state, it can typically be seen with the naked eye, if undisturbed. It shines in the sun like broken glass. On Park Plantation (and other places like it) vegetative cover has been allowed (and now even more by the servitude) to grow over the land and that makes it very difficult to see if the elemental mercury still remains.
Once elemental mercury converts to methyl mercury, it becomes invisible and therefore it becomes much harder to detect and lowers the chances that the responsible party will ever have to remove it. If this land would have been farmed (as on other properties in South Jeanerette Field), normal farming operations would have diluted it across the fields so that it could not be seen and detected. But, regardless of whether it could be seen or not, it would still be there converting into the food chain as methyl mercury. The author contends that is exactly why companies like ARCO began removing mercury meters in the 1970's and 80's but spent little effort, if any, to remove the mercury underneath them in the soil. They clearly understood that over time it would become invisible to the naked eye and virtually undetectable.
All these actions and variables as well as the public records leads one to know that there has knowingly been public hazards on Park Plantation and on certin other properties in the South Jeanerette Field since long before any litigations commenced. Once the disputes over Park Plantation end, all will go silent and be unaddressed. That is in part why the author will continue to bring forth this information until it is all been brought forth. We cannot let such matters go silent and unaddressed.
Unfortunately, the Office of Conservation and/or the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has been of little help in trying to fully remediate Park Plantation (much less the other lands operated by ARCO) in the South Jeanerette Field over the years. In fact, in the Blanchard I Litigation, the Office of Conservation was actively opposed to and has been detrimental to the effort. In 1988 the Office of Conservation actually fabricated a False Affidavit that was used against Blanchard and the author and the public and solely to the benefit of the defendants in the Blanchard I LItigation. (This affidavit has long been proven to be false.)
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
ONE EXAMPLE ... FOUR CORNERS, LA
With at least all the above going on at Park Plantation, as a example of a potentially exposed area at risk, Four Corners, LA (a small rural community) is approximately three miles southwesterly and down-drainage from Park Plantation and the South Jeanerette Field. Four Corners has had its share of health issues over the years. There is a 2004 article about that. Park Plantation is but one tract of land (547.59 acres) in the South Jeanerette Field. That particular oil and gas field field covers thousands of acres in St. Mary Parish generally between Baldwin, LA and Jeanerette, LA. This aerial generally shows the area and the locations of Four Corners and of Park Plantation.
To properly care for the public good (what our environmental agencies were formed to do), each and every other piece of property operated by ARCO in the South Jeanerette Field needs to be fully environmentally assessed just as Park Plantation needs to be assessed and then all of them need to be fully remediated. To the author's knowledge, all other South Jeanerette landowners or stakeholders are silent on these matters.
Although, to the author's knowledge, there has never been a direct cause and effect study performed directly connecting South Jeanerette Field and Four Corners, one must still take into account and consider the contamination that apparently has been on Park Plantation (but not limited to Park Plantation) for years in the South Jeanerette Field and its close location to Four Corners. It is certainly possible that whatever may be reaching Four Corners may be continuing to move southerly to Glencoe as well. (It is the author's position, that the $750,000+ that was spent on the U.S.A. servitude on Park Plantation to the benefit of one party - would have much better been spent on such a study that could benefit many.)
Additionally, in depositions obtained in the Blanchard I Litigation, it was testified to by an ARCO representative that ARCO operated in the same manner across all its South Louisiana fields. That means that these environmental concerns need to be expanded to other areas operated by ARCO as well. Those fields, as testified to by ARCO in that deposition, will be later listed on the Blanchard I Litigation page for the stakeholders in those areas to be aware of. (Knowing all this, it would be interesting to see how much mercury has been voluntarily located and removed from those fields by ARCO [now BP]) knowing fully well the health effects of mercury. Remember, the 1993 Mid-Continent statement that "Mid-Contitent member companies have volunteered to determine how many mercury meters are in the field and find out if mercury is under them." Right!
As to Park Plantation, the author first met Betty Blanchard in April of 1986. At that time, unknown to her and the author, as per this 1996 Newman Trowbridge letter, he and his business associates were attempting to covertly acquire the mineral interests of Betty Blanchard for a miniscule amount of money. That is when the author first stumbled into this byzantine set of facts and relationships that existed by politically-connected individuals trying to be oil and gas operators in Louisiana - where there main asset was that they had a high level of poltical influence. (It is only that sort of political influence that could resulted in something such as the false affidavit from one representative of the Office of Conservation and then additional agents supporting his false affidavit in a hearing under oath in court.)
That attempted acquisition was going on while Betty Blanchard's attorney and her law firm knew all she initially wanted for years was to simply have the subject lease cancelled and ARCO off her property! Instead of demanding a release, wrongly, Trowbridge and his business associates set out to clandestinely acquire the mineral interests of her property from her. This is a horrendous situation on its own and it will only get worse because of what has gone on in the courtrooms of this State to cover these facts up so that certain politically-connected members of the bar could be protected and not held accountable for their actions.
It is the author's opinion, that the corruption of public records, etc. over multiple litigations happened primarily to keep the original facts from ever being known by the public! The courts have attempted to perpetuate these initial wrongful actions by members of the bar long ago by record tampering activities along the way. (There will be much more on all this written on the individual pages as well as the known cancellability of the subject lease in 1995 and 1996, while the so-called oil and gas business associates were attempting to clandestinely acquire the minerals from the same elderly widow, while supposedly she was being legally represented by a member of the busines group.) A sad situation in deed.
So many of the associated relationships were long-existing and fluttering around her minerals for years. Linder Oil Company, A Limited Partnership (Linder) was active operating in Louisiana in the 1980's and 1990's. An investigation of the Office of Conservation records and parish conveyance records prove that.
Consider this snapshot:
David P. Broadbridge was a consulting geologist for Linder. He had a company by the name of KIMSU Oil Company. Mr. Broadbridge had geologic prospects on the Blanchard Property.
Because of the geologic prospects generated by its consulting geologist, Linder wanted to drill and operate on the Blanchard property. G. Miles Biggs, Jr. was the President of Louisiana General Oil Company, a partner of Linder.
Mary Coon Biggs was a lawyer in Betty Blanchard's law firm that represented her while another lawyer in the law firm attempted to clandestinely acquire her minerals with his business associates.
Linder and certain defendants in the Blanchard I litigation conducted oil and gas business in other fields (including but not limited to Bayou Pigeon Field).
G. Tim Alexander, III, Betty Blanchard's and the author's attorney shared office suite space with Linder at the time he undertook legal representation of Betty Blanchard and the author in March of 1993.
Eventually, on the Paul Maclean vs. G. Tim Alexander, III, et al, page, all this will be connected to certain material assignments that were filed in the Bayou Pigeon Field in Iberia Parish between certain defendants and Linder. Those recorded transactions, along with their associated State Lease filings will be like book-ends to the same time period as G. Tim Alexander, III's legal representation began in March of 1993 and the execution of the purported 1996 settlement agreement (that was unlawful and absolutely void from the beginning) but was thought to end the litigation activity.
As happens in so many such matters as this, the cover up is often much worse than the original wrongdoings.