The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, stayed true to his word on Oct. 17 as he named three members to the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. The appointees include an attorney from New Orleans, a civil engineering firm president and the head of a recreational fishing conservation organization. These three members replace two men on the board whose terms expired and one man who did not get a Senate confirmation for his seat. One board member who was replaced was John Barry, the SLFPA-E’s board’s vice-president.
Governor Jindal has been strongly opposed to the lawsuit filed by the SLFPA-E against almost 100 oil and gas companies in June. That lawsuit seeks compensation from the oil and gas industry for damage and injury to the state’s wetlands. Jindal’s administration has repeatedly said that the SLFPA-E did not have the authority to file the lawsuit, and it will put the agreement between the state and the oil companies to repair the wetlands at risk.
Governor Jindal had also said that he would not appoint or reappoint anyone to the board who backed the lawsuit. Barry and the board’s president, Tim Doody, have both been supporters of the lawsuit, although Doody has recused himself from any of the voting because of a possible conflict. He works for a law firm that could potentially become involved in one way or another in the lawsuit.
Barry issued a statement via email that said Governor Jindal was putting the oil and gas company’s interests above those of the coastal areas. He said, “This is exactly why the people of Louisiana voted overwhelmingly to keep politics out of flood protection.”
Doody’s position on the board is still up in the air, as the governor has not made a decision on whether or not to replace or reappoint him.
Protecting the environment is crucial, but sometimes it requires taking on big industries like those represented by the oil and gas companies. Through aggressive actions, though, there can be changes made to protect our planet.