Lou Buatt is a highly-regarded business lawyer who helps energy, petrochemical, and industrial clients navigate and deal with complex environmental and energy laws and regulatory programs throughout the Gulf Coast. Clients benefit from Lou’s training and experience as a geologist along with his fifteen plus years of working inside government environmental and energy regulatory agencies. A primary focus of Lou’s practice is devoted to representing and assisting major industrial clients with environmental and energy related issues associated with developing, acquiring and divesting chemical manufacturing facilities, refineries, and other high-profile energy related facilities. He also represents and assists major industrial clients resolve complex environmental and energy related permitting and enforcement matters.
Here are a few examples where clients benefitted from Lou’s problem-solving experience:
• A major petrochemical company wanted to develop a facility on the Mississippi River while some members of the community and environmental groups objected and raised concerns.
Lou lead the team that identified and developed strategies to address the environmental regulatory permitting and local land use challenges to allow the project to go forward. When major environmental permits for the facility were appealed, Lou and his team successfully defended those permits.
• A major oil refinery was facing numerous enforcement actions leveled by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and a potential intervention by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agencies were asserting numerous violations of environmental regulations at the facility.
Lou and his team negotiated a technical and legal resolution that resolved the enforcement actions while also limiting the potential for intervention by the EPA. Instead of paying a large monetary fine, the client agreed to enhance pollution controls at the facility that made it more efficient, improved future compliance, and a better neighbor.
• A major international company wanted to purchase an existing chemical manufacturing facility and needed to understand the environmental regulatory issues and liabilities associated with the target facility to determine if acquisition was feasible and to assist in negotiating the terms of acquisition.
Lou and his team, along with environmental consulting experts and company technical personnel, conducted the environmental due diligence identifying and evaluating the environmental regulatory issues and liabilities associated with the target facility that was considered in the decision to acquire the target facility and was successfully used by the business team to negotiate favorable commercial terms for the acquisition.
• Major chemical manufacturing facilities and a refinery were alleged to be responsible for injuries to natural resources caused from releases associated with past operations. These companies and the federal and state natural resource trustees had been negotiating resolution of these claims for nearly fifteen years.
Lou was retained by these companies to evaluate the claims and to development and implement a strategy to resolve these longstanding claims for injuries to natural resources. Lou along with the rest of the team developed and implemented a strategy that resulted in settlement of these claims via a consent decree within two years of his retention.
With more than 15 years of public-sector service, Lou helped shape Louisiana's environmental and energy regulatory programs and policies. From the mid-1990s until he began his private law practice in 2011, he served as Assistant Secretary and General Counsel to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, and Secretary of the State Mineral and Energy Board.
Today, he represents clients before the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, and the State Mineral and Energy Board in a variety of matters related to environmental and energy regulatory programs and transactions. He also provides counsel and advice to trade associations for environmental and energy law and policy, such as regulations governing hydraulic fracturing. The Calcasieu River Waterway Harbor Safety Committee recently recognized Lou “for his exceptionally innovative thinking and his steadfast support of the environmental needs of southwest Louisiana.”
Energy companies regularly turn to Lou when they're embroiled in legacy lawsuits. In these oilfield restoration cases, he represents upstream, midstream and downstream clients in administrative, Limited Admission Hearings before the Office of Conservation, and assists Liskow’s litigation teams with the technical and regulatory requirements related to oilfield site restoration. He also coordinates and manages retained experts.