BATON ROUGE – In a news conference Sept. 21, Gov. John Bel Edwards encouraged
all coastal parishes to sue the oil and gas industry for its contributions to
the coastal loss, a statement the president of Louisiana Oil and Gas
Association (LOGA) calls a “shakedown.”
Just a day after Attorney General Jeff Landry refused to approve Gov. Edwards’ illegal
contingency-fee contracts with purported campaign supporter and litigator
Taylor Townsend, on Sept. 7, the New Orleans area levee authorities decided
against reappointing former levee chairman Tim Doody and co-chairman John
announcements came a month after the 24th Judicial District of Louisiana
ruled in favor of the oil and gas companies in
its dismissal of a case filed by Jefferson Parish because it failed to pursue
all administrative remedies before filing the lawsuit.
The latest statements by Gov. Edwards added
fuel to a fire between the state and the oil and gas industry that has burned
for the majority of the year.
“The governor’s actions today declared war on the oil and
Don Briggs, president of LOGA, told the Louisiana
Record. "He is calling for all the parishes in the Gulf Coast to file
lawsuits against the industry. That pretty much takes care of any recovery we
may have hoped for in the Gulf Coast because the industry is not going to
invest into a climate like that.”
Briggs referred to the Jefferson Parish
dismissal and said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a process in
place where it reviews coastal issues and oil and gas permits.
industry violated those permits, because [DNR] regulates them, they should then
notify those companies and address it through that plan.
“There is an administrative
process they have to go through and they haven’t done that. We haven’t violated
any permit and they’re suing us for it,”
The Louisiana coastline has lost
approximately 1,900 square miles of coast since the 1930s; it’s one of the state’s
most dire problems, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
the facts provided by the USGS indicate the cause of coastal
land loss is a culmination of natural and unnatural factors, Gov. Edwards continues
to target the oil and gas industries to pay for nearly 100 years’ of damage in
Several lawsuits filed by four coastal
parishes against oil and gas companies in Louisiana claim that canals and
pipelines dug by the industry are at least partly responsible for the loss of
On Wednesday, Gov. Edwards said in
an interview with reporters, “If we are going to ask Congress for more
money to restore our coast, I think it's incumbent upon us to do what we can do
Edwards said during the interview the state will join the four parishes that have already filed suit
for compensation from the oil and gas industry. He also encouraged every
coastal parish in Louisiana to take legal action against the industry, stating
if they don’t, the state will do so on their behalf.
to the governor’s news conference, LOGA and Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas
Association (LMOGA) issued a joint statement writing: “The governor’s comments today
are an obvious attempt to deflect from the very serious conflict of interest
issues that have been raised by the media in recent weeks.”
associations said the lawsuits will not protect the coast and are not a funding
mechanism for state or local government budgets. They said the litigation diverts
critical time and resources away from the industry’s support of Louisiana’s
coastal restoration efforts. Louisiana’s oil and natural gas industry is the
largest private investor in our state’s coast and LOGA and LMOGA said efforts would
be stronger and more effective through collaboration rather than litigation.
The statement says numerous editorials
and articles published in Louisiana have called on Gov. Edwards to “make good
on his ethics pledge and stop the system of good ol’ boy government” that it
believes seems to be flourishing under his administration.
“Rather than working to address these
issues, it seems the governor is doubling down on this flawed attempt to hire private
lawyers to attack Louisiana’s energy industry. That’s alarming, particularly
given that the first two lawsuits to proceed to major decisions have been
dismissed by federal and state courts,” the statement reads.
LOGA and LMOGA said in the statement
that the administration already has every tool it needs to protect the coast
through its pre-established processes, “But issuing fines and penalties for alleged
violations, as the department is required to do by state law, doesn’t produce billions
in legal fees.”
“This is a shakedown in the largest
proportions to help [Gov. Edwards’] friends who contributed to him,” Briggs said.