The Senate in Louisiana has been considering several bills that if passed would have a serious effect on several lawsuits in the state. The biggest lawsuit affected by the bill would be the one that involves the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East board. That lawsuit was filed last year against 97 oil and gas companies. It alleges that the oil and gas industries have caused substantial damage to the state’s coastal areas. It seeks to have those companies named in the lawsuit held responsible for the damage and injury to the wetlands and marshes by either taking care of the damage or paying for the repairs.
Sen. Robert Adley and Gov. Bobby Jindal are opposed to the lawsuit, but they are also looking to change the way that people are appointed to the levee board. The bill, SB 79, seeks to let the governor have the ultimate say in who is appointed and in a board member’s removal. This bill is still moving through the Senate.
The bill proposed by Rep. Joel Robideaux seems to have stalled in the House. That bill would detail the process by which parish governments could seek to hold the oil and gas companies responsible for the damage to the wetlands — but without involving the courts. Two Louisiana parishes, Plaquemines and Jefferson, have filed almost 30 lawsuits that are quite similar to the one filed by the SLFPA-E. The bill has been stalled because the parish governments feel that it would allow the courts to find for the oil and gas industry and not allow the lawsuit to continue.
It will be interesting to see which, if any, bills do pass. There are many supporters who are lobbying to see the bills fail. The attorneys for the SLFPA-E lawsuit have created a website that will provide information about why the bills’ supporters are wrong. Over the next few weeks, we should learn whether the SLFPA-E’s lawsuit, as well as the ones filled by the two parishes, will be allowed to continue.
Source: thetowntalk.com, “Louisiana bill to derail parish ‘big oil’ lawsuits stalls” Kevin McGill, Associated Press, Apr. 24, 2014