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Levee board disregards Louisiana governor's opposition to Doody

Local headlines have been dominated by the ongoing story of the lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East's board. As many know, the legal claim is directed at nearly 100 of the world's largest oil and pipeline companies for their role in inflicting injury on critical, sensitive wetlands. As we have covered on this blog, the suit has faced a number of challenges from officials in Louisiana.

In early February, we discussed Governor Bobby Jindal's disapproval of Tim Doody as chair of the SLFPA-E board. Under the current system, an independent panel appoints people to serve on the levee authority board, and the governor has generally stood in staunch opposition to any nominees who support the wetlands degradation lawsuit. Most recently, the independent levee authority nomination committee agreed to sidestep the governor's resistance to Doody by keeping him on as board leader.

One of the state's strongest supporters of independent, localized levee authorities expressed her concerns over Jindal's actions. She noted that the boards should be populated by people who have technical knowledge, rather than trying to shut down nominees for political reasons.

Behind the scenes of this ongoing struggle, one state legislator has introduced a bill that would change the process by which board members are appointed. If the bill is signed into law, board members would have to receive the governor's approval in order to serve. This, of course, has raised serious concerns.

The composition of the SLFPA-E board is obviously relevant to the direction of the ongoing legal claim. Wetlands in south Louisiana have decimated by decades of action taken by the oil industry, and state residents have been forced to deal with the impact. Understanding the scale and unprecedented nature of this legal action, it's no surprise that it's incredibly complex and will require sensitivity, skill and knowledge to forge ahead.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "Levee authority committee ignores Bobby Jindal rejection of one nominee, agrees to send him another," Mark Schleifstein, March 6, 2014

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