Louisiana House approves bill to end levee board lawsuit

With a vote of 59 to 39, the Louisiana House approved a bill by Sen. Bret Allain that would effectively end the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies. The bill will now head back to the Senate for a final vote on the changes made in the House. Gov. Bobby Jindal will sign the bill, as he has opposed the lawsuit from the beginning.

Supporters of the lawsuit say that the oil and gas industry needs to be held accountable for the damage and injury to the state’s wetlands from dredging canals and pipelines.

The SLFPA-E filed the lawsuit last year. As stated in previous posts, some proponents believe that there are other legal challenges that can be made by the SLFPA-E. Supporters of the lawsuit say that if the oil and gas industry isn’t made to pay for the damage to the coastal areas, then the taxpayers in the state will pay the cost.

Rep. Eddie Lambert said that the courts should decide if the lawsuit should be allowed to continue. Rep. Edwards said that the oil and gas industry wouldn’t be pushing so hard for the passage of this bill if the lawsuit had been filed improperly or was considered frivolous.

Critics of the lawsuit say that it is an attack on the industry that has brought so much to the state in terms of severance taxes and royalty payments — $80 billion.

The bill would restrict which government entities in the state can file such lawsuits dealing with the state’s coastal area restoration plans. Levee boards such as the SLFPA-E are not on the list. The bill will apply to current and future actions.

It remains to be seen what will happen should the bill be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the governor. There is a good chance that this will not be last that is heard from the SLFPA-E about the lawsuit.

Source: The Times-Picayune, “Louisiana House supports bill to nullify levee board lawsuit” The Associated Press, May. 29, 2014

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