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Former Louisiana levee board member seeks support for lawsuit

Last year, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Agency-East filed a lawsuit against almost 100 oil and gas companies. The purpose of the lawsuit is to get the oil and gas companies to pay for the damage and injury caused to the state's coastal areas. The suit alleges that oil and gas operations, such as building canals and pipelines, caused the damage. The SLFPA-E wants the companies to be held responsible for the land loss.

John Barry was vice-president of the SLFPA-E's board last year and is one of the lawsuit's most aggressive supporters. Gov. Bobby Jindal did not reappoint Barry to the board, nor two other members who support the suit. Tim Doody, the board's president, was not replaced; however, the governor has said that he won't reappoint Doody as president. Right now, there are six board members for the lawsuit and three against it.

John Barry started a non-profit foundation called Restore Louisiana Now in order to garner more support for the lawsuit. As we spoke about a few weeks ago, a new website has also been launched that has many documents for the public to view.

Now, Barry is speaking to rotary clubs throughout the state. On Thursday, he spoke to the St. Bernard parish Rotary Club, presenting a power point presentation that detailed the damage to the state coastal areas. In addition, he referenced 37 studies that reportedly showed that the oil and gas industry was responsible for the state's land loss.

Barry asked that those in at meeting speak with their legislators to vote against legislation that would stop the lawsuit. Another piece of the legislation that has been proposed wants to give Gov. Jindal the authority to reject the names submitted by the nominating committee for appointment to the levee board. He could also require that more are selected until the governor chooses someone.

While the SLFPA-E's lawsuit continues to move forward, it likely is being watched closely by environmentalists who have their own agenda for change. Attorneys who handle environmental concerns are often needed to ensure that attention is drawn to actions harmful to the state's natural resources. In many cases, civil action is the only way to put an end to those harmful, destructive actions.

Source: The Times-Picayine, "Ousted levee authority member John Barry rallies support in St. Bernard for suit against energy companies" Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, Mar. 20, 2014

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