Oil company lawsuit hangs over flood board nominations

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East has three members of its board whose terms have expired. There is a fourth member that has been serving on the board, but his position was never confirmed by the Louisiana State Senate. Soon, a committee will meet in New Orleans to discuss who will fill those openings. The current lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies will almost assuredly have an effect on who is nominated.

The committee will send its selections to fill the vacancies on the SLFPA-E’s board to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. He will choose from the nominations and he has been a staunch, vocal opponent of the lawsuit since the day it was filed.

Even if Governor Jindal appoints only those who are opposed to the lawsuit to the SLFPA-E’s board, still there will not be a majority in his favor. The initial nine-member board voted unanimously to move forward with the lawsuit, which was filed in July. If the five board members continue to vote as they did to file the suit, the four new members would still be the minority.

The SLFPA-E faces a lot ahead with the lawsuit. The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA) claims that the Louisiana attorney general did not have the authority to give approval for the lawsuit and has threatened legal action if that approval is not withdrawn. Garrett Graves, Governor Jindal’s coastal advisor, has repeatedly sought support from various levee boards and state committees.

Several environmental groups, including Levee.org and the Sierra Club, have accused the governor of only opposing the lawsuit because he has received substantial campaign contributions from oil and gas companies in the last decade totaling more than $1 million.

The lawsuit, which targets the oil and gas companies for their drilling, dredging and building of pipelines and canals for the damage and injury to the wetlands, wants the companies to be held accountable for the damage and repairs.

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