Joint legislative committee convenes over coastal erosion lawsuit against oil companies

By Kyle Barnett | Aug 14, 2013

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana House and Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committees are meeting jointly today to review a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East (SLFPA-E) against 97 energy exploration and oil companies.

The agency filed suit on July 24 in the Orleans Parish Central District Court claiming that expansive oil exploration along the Louisiana coast has led to massive erosion that has put the New Orleans metro area at greater risk for flooding. The case has since been transferred to federal court.

The lawsuit, which could add up to billions in damages and which had been vetted by Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, has been called a “frivolous money grab” by Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who also is critical of the litigation, said that the SLFPA-E has been “hijacked by a group of trial lawyers.”

However, environmental groups, not surprisingly, have come out in favor of the lawsuit., a group that has been instrumental in advocating for better flood control following Hurricane Katrina, asked supporters to attend the legislative committee meeting in favor of the lawsuit and the St. Tammany Parish-based Progressive Northshore Democrats have also put their support behind the effort calling for the restoration  of a “healthy and vibrant wetlands ecosystem.”

The committee has no legislative authority over the SLFPA-E and is expected to only review and discuss the lawsuit.

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