Caldwell says oil and gas lawsuit was not illegally approved
The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association filed a lawsuit against the state’s attorney general, Buddy Caldwell, last month. The lawsuit wants a judge to rule that Caldwell erred when his office approved a contract between the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East and lawyers in the case against 97 oil and gas companies.
The lawsuit filed by the SLFPA-E wants the oil and gas companies to either repair or pay for the repairs and reparations for the damage and injury done to the state’s coastal areas. This damage is, according to the lawsuit, due to the building of pipelines and canals, as well as dredging operations. The LOGA wants this lawsuit halted and believes that Caldwell’s office should not have approved the lawyer’s contract with the SLFPA-E.
Caldwell is defending his approval of the contract. He has asked a court to declare that he can represent agencies like the SLFPA-E, but only when he is specifically called upon to do so. He also wants the judge to say that the contract is valid between the attorneys and the SLFPA-E.
The lawyers have recently brought forth proposed changes to the contract, and those changes were discussed at a recent SLFPA-E board meeting. Included in those changes are lower fees and no part of the monies awarded or set aside for the actual repairs of the coastal areas will go to the attorneys.
Caldwell also insisted that LOGA was wrong when they said that the SLFPA-E was required to follow state laws regarding “special counsels.” The attorney general said that the statute governing special counsels doesn’t apply because the SLFPA-E is not a state commission or board.
The ruling on the LOGA lawsuit will be instrumental in determining what happens next with the SLFPA-E’s lawsuit. Sometimes, environmental problems require court action to get the results that are so desperately needed.
nola.com, “Louisiana’s attorney general defends his approval of east bank levee authority’s resolution for hiring wetlands suit law firm” Mark Schleifstein, Jan. 09, 2014