The immediate fate of the lawsuit filed against almost 100 oil and gas companies by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East will likely be determined on Thursday, Dec. 5. A special meeting has been called to consider whether to continue with the lawsuit, which alleges that the oil and gas companies’ dredging and canal and pipeline operations are responsible for the injury and destruction of the state’s coastal areas.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has made no qualms about how he and his administration feel about the lawsuit. The governor is strongly opposed to it and has taken some rather strong moves to prevent the lawsuit from moving forward. First, the governor recently replaced three members of the SLFPA-E’s board with nominees who are likely against the lawsuit. One appointee brought the motion for consideration before a meeting on Nov. 21. There was no vote by the board during that meeting, as there has been no report yet from the legislative auditor as to the validity of the contract that was signed with a law firm that is handling the lawsuit.
The vote to reaffirm the contract will likely depend on what the auditor’s report has to say, which is expected to be available for the Dec. 19 meeting of the SLFPA-E.
When the vote to file the lawsuit was taken earlier this year, it was unanimous. Since that time, though, the vice-president of the board, John Barry, was replaced by one of the governor’s appointees. Barry has continued to work toward promoting the lawsuit, including starting a nonprofit organization to lobby the Louisiana legislature. The governor has said he would try to seek the passage of bill that would prevent the lawsuit from moving forward.
It is not known if the governor has managed to get enough votes in his corner to tilt the vote against the lawsuit in his favor. However, there has been recent talk about the SLFPA-E’s board’s president no longer backing the lawsuit.
Environmental problems must be exposed and if not corrected, then dealt with in such a way that makes corrective action happen. In some cases, the only way to make this happen is through a civil action.
nola.com, “East Bank levee authority calls special meeting to vote again on suit against oil, gas companies” Mark Schleifstein, Dec. 02, 2013