The Louisiana Senate has passed SB553, with a vote of 23 for and 15 against. Sen. Robert Adley sponsored the bill, which would keep governmental bodies from retaining attorneys unless it had the governor’s approval. The bill also states that this restriction would be retroactive. That means it would apply to the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s lawsuit against almost 100 oil and gas companies. An amendment to exclude that part of the bill failed with a vote of 20-17.
This lawsuit has drawn strong opposition from Gov. Jindal and his administration. The bill has drawn a lot of opposition from the lawsuit’s supporters. Levee.org asked its members to phone senators and ask for their vote against SB553. Coastal protection and environmental groups lobbied for the same. However, the bill passed.
The lawsuit led to another lawsuit against the Louisiana attorney general by the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. The LOGA suit sought to find the attorney general’s approval of the SLFPA-E’s hiring of outside council and the related contingency fees.
The bill now heads to the Louisiana House. The SLFPA-E’s lawsuit is historic. It seeks to hold the 97 oil and gas companies responsible for the injury and damage to the state’s coastal areas because of the building of canals and dredging operations. This damage has made many coastal areas of the state, including New Orleans, more vulnerable to hurricane surges and flooding.
When negotiations by environmentalists fail, sometimes the only action left is a court action. Protecting the environment is critical to sustaining Louisiana and its residents.
Source: Louisiana Record, “Bill passes state senate that would stop massive lawsuit against oil companies” Kyle Barnett, Apr. 16, 2014