MORGAN CITY — A Louisiana state representative attributes the
state's slow job recovery to its backlog of legacy lawsuits against
the oil industry.
State Rep. Beryl Amedee (R-Gray) addressed the St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast March 30, saying legacy lawsuits targeting the oil industry have put Louisiana at an economic disadvantage, according this article from St.MaryNow.com.
In these types of lawsuits, property owners attempt to reclaim damage done to their land by oil companies. These legacy lawsuits owe much of their recent growth to a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Corbello v. Iowa Production. The case made it possible for
property owners to recover from oil companies the costs necessary to
restore their property to its original condition, regardless of the
value of the property.
Amedee told the Louisiana Record that although she believes lawsuits against the oil industry serve an important function when
they can be shown to be directly responsible for obvious environmental
damage, the current climate goes far beyond what is necessary. This includes damage that may not be fairly attributed to the oil
"When you show me a picture of an oil
drill and the grass around it is dead that is a pretty clear cut
example of the industry causing environmental damage and needing to
make restitution," she said. "But many of these lawsuits go
beyond that. The plaintiffs are talking about claiming damages from
everything from man made canals, to the traffic coming in and out, to
land loss caused by erosion."
She added that many of the legacy lawsuits punish companies that
are doing their best to limit the damage to the surrounding
"When I speak with oil field company heads they are
serious about taking care of the environment and they are serious
about following the rules and even going above and beyond what is
required," Amedee said. "Are they lying? I don't know. But
it appears to me that they are doing their job."
Amedee said state and national agencies should also bear
some of the responsibility for the environmental damage caused by
these incidents, arguing that if state and federal agencies failed to
intervene to stop the damage attributed to the oil industry, then
they also failed in their roles.
"When a rule is broken it is
the state's responsibility to enforce those regulations," she
added. "We have the Louisiana Department of Environmental
Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency to handle these
issues. There are already so many facets of the government that are
involved in this issue they have to take some responsibility."
result of these complications is a negative impact on the state's
economy and its ability to attract oil related jobs according to
"When the oil industry says it is reluctant to return to
Louisiana because of these legacy lawsuits that bothers me," she said. "I see legacy lawsuits as a danger to people's ability to
put food on the table."
concluded that legacy suits against the oil industry
were not the only reason for the state's sluggish job growth but were a contributing factor and one that state government can
have direct impact upon.