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Ex-flood authority board member fights powerful opposition

When John Barry learned that he would not be re-appointed to the board of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, it likely came as a little surprise. The well-known author and advocate for coastal restoration was instrumental in getting the SLFPA-E to file a massive lawsuit against almost 100 oil and gas companies last July. The lawsuit alleges that the companies should be held accountable for the damage and injury caused to the state's wetlands from their dredging operations and pipeline and canal construction.

The lawsuit, the SLFPA-E and John Barry immediately became the targets of an infuriated Governor Bobby Jindal and his coastal advisor. In March, the governor plans to have the state legislature pass legislation to stop the lawsuit. Even though Barry no longer sits on the board as vice-president of the SLFPA-E, he is still helping promote the lawsuit through a new non-profit organization called Restore Louisiana Now. The group wants to promote awareness about the destruction of the wetlands and why the lawsuit is necessary.

The organization will lobby for the lawsuit, but "will be outgunned and outspent." According to the media, this is going to be a "David vs. Goliath confrontation."

According to Barry and a recent poll conducted in 22 parishes located closest to the state's coastal areas, 74 percent of voters "do not want the Legislature to interfere with the suit." The percentage was even higher in New Orleans, with 86 percent wanting the Legislature to stay out of it.

While Barry may have been instrumental in filing the lawsuit, he credits many others on the SLFPA-E board who support the suit, despite the governor's best intentions to get the supporters off the board.

While the fate of the suit is not known yet, support for it is certainly growing. Environmental problems such as this one often require legal action to get needed results. Environmental law attorneys can provide those who need information about the laws and regulations governing these types of matters and advice on how to best proceed.

Source: bestofneworleans.com, "David vs. Goliath: John Barry, New Orleanian of the Year 2013" Clancy DuBos, Jan. 07, 2014

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