BATON ROUGE — Rep. Garret Graves (LA-6) believes lawsuits against oil and gas companies are not the right approach when it comes to fixing the state's coastline.
Graves said he believes lawsuits like the one brought by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry's against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are on the right track.
"I have said many times that I don't think that the lawsuits against the oil and gas companies were the right approach," Graves said in an interview with The Louisiana Record. "I think that while I acknowledge that there is some validity there, I think strategically, the way to go is after the Corps of Engineers. They are the largest cause."
Rep. Garret Graves | Wikimedia Commons
Graves said he thinks that even if private lawsuits were wildly successful, the fundamental problem with the state's coast is how the rivers are managed.
"Until that changes, there is virtually no amount of money that you could invest that would have a sustainable impact on ecological resiliency and on the procession of our communities," Graves said. "I think strictly from a strategic perspective, that forcing the Corps of Engineers through litigation to manage the rivers in a different way is something that needs to happen."
On the economic side, Graves said he has met with numerous executives who have told him that they are either withdrawing resources, not investing or are making economic investments in other states as a direct result of the lawsuits against oil and gas companies.
"This is numerous executives I've spoken with—not just one or two," Graves said.
Graves said the things business executives look for when investing are not being found currently in Louisiana.
"The lawsuits are not necessarily conducive to a positive business climate," Graves said. "It appears, in my opinion, that there is some validity to those concerns [regarding claims that coastal lawsuits harm the economy.]"
Lousiana Watchdog previously published that lawsuits against oil and gas companies for the erosion of the state's coastline were harming the economy.
The energy industry claims gas and oil exploration was done with permits and that because their permits were already authorized, the state had determined the benefits outweighed the potential risks.
Louisiana Watchdog notes that the state's coastline is losing land the size of a football field every 48 minutes due to erosion. It claims that coastal parishes will be underwater by 2100.