A decision expected within days from Louisiana Conservation Commissioner Jim Welsh could impact the future of lignite mining in DeSoto and Red River parishes and the pocketbooks of electricity customers in the region.
Welsh hopes it doesn’t come down to that. He’s encouraging a compromise among the oil and gas operators and lignite miners — both of which have lease agreements for natural resources buried in the Earth in the same location — before he releases a formal order.
While the rules and regulations regarding lignite mining are unchanged since it started in DeSoto Parish in the 1980s, the Haynesville Shale natural gas development that is extended into the permitted and leased mining area brought the potential conflict to the forefront.
“I’m optimistic that there can be a compromise. It’s a problem that we’ve had for a long time, but it’s recently come to a point that something has to be worked out,” Welsh said Friday. “Both have rights to do their business. But the situation is where the answers need to be worked out with the companies.”