Thursday night, more than a dozen state lawmakers who serve on the Senate Environmental Quality or House Natural Resources and Environment committees will convene at the Sliman Theater in downtown New Iberia for a 6 p.m. public meeting to discuss concerns over the issuance of state natural gas permits.
An Iberia Parish grassroots group that for years has been fighting to do just what its name entails - Save Lake Peigneur - is still at it in its David and Goliath style battle against an Atlanta-based energy company's plans to carve new natural gas caverns under the scenic lake.
AGL Resources already operates two natural gas storage caverns under Lake Peigneur, the banks of which house Rip Van Winkle Gardens. The company's goal of building two additional caverns will require dredging the lake and siphoning unprecedented amounts of groundwater from the Chicot Aquifer. The lake is also the site of an extraordinary drilling accident in 1980 and home to "unexplained bubbling."
The project scope, particularly the use of an aquifer that supplies drinking water to more than 20 parishes, has faced enough opposition and legal red tape to delay AGL's plans for the past five years. Thursday night, more than a dozen state lawmakers who serve on the Senate Environmental Quality or House Natural Resources and Environment committees will convene at the Sliman Theater in downtown New Iberia for a 6 p.m. public meeting to discuss the concerns over the issuance of state permits. Legislators from Acadiana are also expected to attend.
Save Lake Peigneur member Geri Frederick says a standing-room only crowd opposing the project at a May 17 Senate committee hearing prompted state Sen. J.P. Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat who chairs the Senate environmental committee, to bring the discussion closer to home.
"In all our years fighting this, I can't ever remember two committees coming to New Iberia to hear our concerns," Frederick says.
Reps from AGL Resources will also be on hand to give an update and presentation before Save Lake Peigneur takes the stage.