Louisiana’s governor, Bobby Jindal, has already said through his coastal protection chief, Garrett Graves, that two key members of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East would not be reappointed because of their involvement in the board’s decision to file a lawsuit against nearly 100 oil and gas companies. That lawsuit, filed in July, alleges that the dredging and digging of canals and pipelines has caused damage and injury to the state’s wetlands.
Graves told the panel in charge of putting together a list of nominees that the lawsuit has “hampered state cooperative coastal protection projects” with the oil and gas industry. The president of the SLFPA-E board, as well as the vice-president, would not be nominated for repeat terms, which ended in June. Jim Doody, currently serving as the board’s president said the decision by Governor Jindal is disappointing, but was not surprising. He did not vote for the lawsuit because he is an attorney and didn’t want a conflict of interest if his firm were to become involved with one of the oil and gas companies named in the lawsuit. However, he didn’t oppose the suit, either.
John Berry, the vice-president of the board, said that the nominations were supposed to be non-political, but Governor Jindal and his aides haven’t allowed it to be that way. He said of the board, “You’re an independent, nonpolitical board as long as you do what the politicians order you to do.”
Because of the timing required for the nominations, it’s possible that Governor Jindal could make his own appointment; however, Graves said that the nominations by the independent panel would be considered.
Many supporters of the lawsuit said they believe the panel should let a person’s qualifications determine the nominations – not whether or not someone supports the lawsuit.