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Legislative bodies meet to discuss lawsuit against oil companies

Several legislative committees in Louisiana met yesterday, Aug. 14, to discuss and review a massive lawsuit filed against 97 oil and gas companies. The lawsuit, which was filed on July 24 in the Orleans Parish Central District Court, claims that offshore oil exploration and dredging along the state's coast has led to erosion of a catastrophic level.

The committees include the House and Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committees. The committee is only expected to discuss and review the lawsuit, as they do not have any legislative authority over the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East, which is who filed the lawsuit.

There could be billions of dollars in damages at stake in the lawsuit. It has received approval from the Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to proceed; however, the Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, has loudly expressed his opposition to the suit. He says that the SLFPA-E has been "hijacked by a group of trial lawyers." Don Briggs, the president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, called the lawsuit a "frivolous money grab."

Environmental groups around the nation, though, are strongly in favor of the lawsuit, as they want to see the state's coastal area restored.

Other supporters include Levees.org, which is a group that has advocated for improved flood control since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the Progressive Northshore Democrats, which is located in the St. Tammany Parish. Levees.org urged people to attend the legislative committee meeting to show support for the lawsuit. The PND has said that they would like to see a restoration of a "healthy and vibrant wetlands ecosystem," which has suffered such destruction and injury in the last few decades.

The case has been transferred over to federal court.

louisianarecord.com, "Joint legislative committee convenes over coastal erosion lawsuit against oil companies" Kyle Barnett, Aug. 14, 2013

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