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Bill to kill Louisiana oil and gas lawsuit moves forward

The Louisiana State Senate could be voting on SB 469 as soon as next week. The bill has been advanced by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, although it has many changes. One of the representatives for large landowners said that he would have dropped the legislation if the wording had been changed too much.

The bill was amended through meetings with lobbyists, attorneys and officials. Part of the problem for opponents was that they felt the changes were made at the last minute. The public will have a week or so to read and consider the changes that were made. However, one of the attorneys who represents the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East said that the limited opportunity for reviewing the changes by residents is so that they can't raise their opposition to the bill.

The SLFPA-E's lawsuit was filed last year and targets almost 100 oil and gas companies for the damages the state's coastal areas suffered from around 10,000 miles of canals throughout the region. As a result, the wetlands suffered enough damage and injury that hurricane storm surges are possible. If this bill should pass, then it would stop the SLFPA-E's lawsuit by requiring government agencies to have a Coastal Zone Management Plan to file legal claims in coastal areas.

An attorney who is responsible for writing most of the amendments didn't disagree with the former vice president of the SLFPA-E's board, who said that the bill is only designed to undermine the SLFPA-E's lawsuit. The attorney said, though, that there would need to be a motion for the dismissal of the lawsuit in court by some party. The bill does not apply to parishes who have similar suits, albeit on a smaller scale.

This bill could end up costing the residents of Louisiana, if the oil and gas energy companies will not be forced into paying for the damage and injury they are responsible for over the years.

Source: The Advocate, "Oil lawsuit-killing bill advances" Mark Ballard, May. 02, 2014

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