When the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed a lawsuit last year against 97 oil and gas companies, they knew it would be met with strong opposition. The lawsuit sought damages from the oil and gas companies for destruction and injury to the state’s coastal areas.
One of the strongest opponents to the lawsuit has been Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. He has stated that the lawsuit would harm the oil and gas industry in the state, which he considers very valuable.
House Bill 469, which would put an end to the lawsuit, passed through committee last week. Proponents of the lawsuit, including the Bucket Brigade and the Sierra Club, held a protest outside of the courthouse in St. Bernard Parish last Friday. They staged a mock wedding to show the “marriage” of politics and big oil.
The Gulf Restoration Network’s communication direction said, “If we are going to continue to live here, if we’re going to continue to have a thriving oil and gas industry, these companies must help restore the damage they caused.” Several environmental groups have lobbied for legislators not to back the bill.
The Sierra Club’s organizer said, “This just proves to us that our local representation in Baton Rouge care more about oil money, rather than the health of our state and the millions of people who call Southeast Louisiana home.” However, the organizer said there are other legal options available if the bill passes.
While the fate of HB 469 is not known yet, this and other proposed legislation shows how hard environmentalists must fight for their causes. The advice and experience of a Louisiana environmental attorney can prove invaluable during such cases.