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Will Flood Authority board appointments affect oil and gas suit?

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East has received heavy criticism from Governor Bobby Jindal and Garret Graves, the governor's coastal advisor. The lawsuit, which was filed in July against almost 100 gas and oil companies, accuses the industry of destroying the state's coastal wetlands by dredging and building canals and pipelines. According to the lawsuit, the loss of these wetlands has made the southeastern areas of Louisiana very susceptible to injury and destruction from hurricane storm surges and has increased the complexity and cost of the levee systems now needed to protect New Orleans.

The lawsuit wants the oil and gas companies to restore the damaged wetlands, which is something that was supposed to have been done anyway -according to the permits that were issued when the projects for canals and pipelines were started. If the damage isn't repaired, then the lawsuit wants compensation from the oil and gas companies.

Governor Jindal, though, is looking to replace members of the SLFPA-E board, three of which expired in June. There is a fourth member that could be reappointed because the member filling that spot was never confirmed by the Louisiana Senate. One of the board members that could be replaced is John Barry, who is also the board's vice-president. He is also one of the lawsuit's strongest proponents and has already said he will be applying for reappointment.

Graves has said the nominations for the three seats will be scrutinized. Graves also sits as chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which voted last week to oppose the lawsuit. When as asked about the governor's administration's view on the SLFPA-E board, Graves said that "we're not going to tolerate the unconstructive sideshow that has resulted from this board."

Should the governor have all four spots replaced with members who are against the lawsuit, there would still be a slight majority for support of it. The panel consists of nine members. The governor likely hopes that the loss of the four members will break the board's unanimous resolve currently in effect.


Source: 
theadvocate.com, "Levee board appointments may let Jindal interfere with suit" Jeff Adelson, Aug. 23, 2013

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