Funding cut to levee authority that sued 97 oil and gas companies
Just a few hours ago, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) learned that Governor Bobby Jindal has withdrawn a half a million dollars in state funding. This is a relatively rare occurrence, but one that many feel is politically motivated.
Governor Jindal and his administration have been vocal opponents of the lawsuit filed against almost 100 oil and gas companies. The lawsuit alleges that these companies are responsible for the injury and damage to Louisiana’s coastal areas from the building of pipelines and canals, as well as dredging operations.
The SLFPA-E believes that it will be able to continue working because of the monies received from taxpayers who own property in the Lake Borgne, Orleans and East Jefferson levee districts. However, the SLFPA-E has received the state funding for so long that it depends on it. There was only one year since 2007 in which the flood authority didn’t receive $500,000. That one year it got $250,000.
Garrett Graves, Governor Jindal’s coastal advisor, said that his office is responsible for how this money is spent. In addition, he said that a levee board is not promised how much, if any, money is given each year. Graves said that the decision not to give the state funding to the SLFPA-E was simply a matter of budgetary decisions. However, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West will receive its funding as usual. This is another reason that the SLFPA-E believes the withdrawal of funding was in retaliation for the lawsuit. The SLFPA-W did not back the lawsuit.
The $500,000 has been used to pay for a full-time staff of six, as well as engineering and professional services that are needed in order to operate the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. The board of the SLFPA-E is not paid.
Those who are concerned about environmental protection will continue to watch this and other lawsuits against “big oil” companies with the hopes that this industry will be held accountable for the destruction of the state’s coastal areas.