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Are secret talks underway in Louisiana oil and gas lawsuit?

The lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East has created a huge controversy. That lawsuit, filed against 97 oil and gas companies, seeks payment for the damages to the coastal areas. That damage is of such a massive scale, that storm surges could lead to another catastrophe similar to Hurricane Katrina.

There have been other lawsuits filed as a result of this, such as the one by the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association against Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. The state legislature is contemplating bills designed to put an end to such legislation. One bill died in committee, but another has been passed by the Senate and in the House.

As discussed in a post on April 11, the SLFPA-E's attorneys have offered a settlement to the oil and gas companies named in the lawsuit. If a company will come to the negotiating table and a settlement is agreed upon, then the lawsuit will be dropped against that company. In addition to the settlement offer, the attorneys agreed to lower their contingency fees. However, this settlement offer was refused.

Now, it appears that the oil and gas companies are looking for a settlement and may actually be contemplating a statewide settlement. According to Caldwell's statements on a radio show last week, "there are on-going conversations about a statewide settlement." This settlement would mean that Louisianans are actually the winner in this legal and political matter. The damage and injury to the coastal areas would be repaired.

While there isn't much more to tell about a possible settlement, it will be interesting to see if the bill to kill the lawsuit passes the House. John Barry, the former vice-president of the SLFPA-E, and other supporters of the lawsuit have been lobbying for legislators to vote against the bill.

For environmentalists and others who are outraged at the damage to the coastal areas in Louisiana, news of a possible settlement is good news. For some, holding the oil and gas industry responsible is every bit as important as repairing the coastal and wetland damage.

Source: Ind Monthly, "Is Big Oil Secretly Negotiating A Settlement To Pay For Coastal Damages?" Lamar White, Jr., May. 01, 2014

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