Last week the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East agency filed a lawsuit against nearly 100 oil and gas companies for their longstanding role in destroying Louisiana’s coastal wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico.
The lawsuit in Orleans Civil District Court charged that the oil companies’ dredged canals through the wetlands permitted saltwater to invade freshwater marshes and that the companies failed to meet their duty to environmentally restore the areas where they operated.
Louisiana’s Republican Governor Bobby Jindal was quick to condemn the lawsuit against major energy companies including Exxon and Chevron, while Louisiana Republican House of Representatives member Steve Scalise observed, “This lawsuit is nothing more than a trial lawyer boondoggle as they seek to leech billions from the very companies that make up the backbone of our local economy. The best way to revitalize Louisiana’s eroding coastline is by dedicating offshore revenues and RESTORE Act funds directly to our coastal restoration efforts. The action being taken against Louisiana energy producers could interfere with the work we’re doing in Congress to provide the long-term funding that will ensure our beloved coast is renewed and preserved for generations to come.”
Don Briggs of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association has praised Jindal for his reply and urged the governor to champion state reform, labeling the lawsuit “frivolous” and yet another of the hundreds of “legacy lawsuits” filed by disgruntled coastal landowners against oil companies over the past decade.
Environmentalists were quick to respond. Sierra Club spokesman Darryl Malek-Wiley told reporters, “It shocked me that we have Governor Jindal, who talks about being a strong advocate for wetland protection, attacking an agency who's trying to get these wetlands restored.” Levees.org founder Sandy Rosenthal commented, “Apparently, the people with the power and money and intelligence to put together a lawsuit like this, apparently it needed to be someone protected from political pressure. “And this lawsuit will test whether the (flood protection authority) is truly protected from political pressure.”
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com