The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East agency has a significant change in its board in the last few days. John Barry, the board’s vice-president, was not reappointed for another term by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. That didn’t come as much of a surprise, as the governor and his aides had already stated that any board member who supported the SLFPA-E’s lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies would not be reappointed.
It wasn’t too long after Barry learned he wasn’t going to have a spot on the board any longer that he announced he was forming a nonprofit group whose goal would be to continue to work to push the lawsuit. The first order of business will be to lobby legislators. Governor Jindal has made it clear that he plans to try to get legislation passed that will stop the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks compensation from the oil and gas industry for damages and injury to the coastal areas due to dredging and the building of pipelines and canals. The lawsuit was filed with unanimous approval of the SLFPA-E board, which consists of nine members. The governor has now appointed three people to open seats – two who had their terms expire and one who was not confirmed by the Senate.
Barry believes that the lawsuit has enough support, even with the people Governor Jindal appointed, to survive. He also believes that there is enough support in the state’s Legislature to thwart an attempt to pass new legislation to stop the lawsuit.
The group doesn’t have a name yet, but the plan is to use it to inform and educate the public and lawmakers about the damage to the coast.
The oil and gas industry is not the only industry to negatively affect the environment. It’s only through continued diligence that people can make a difference, even if it means redress through the court system.