Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch questions motives, impact surrounding oil and gas lawsuits

By Carrie Bradon | May 7, 2019

New Orleans Parish and six other parishes throughout the state have filed a lawsuit against Louisiana's oil and gas companies, alleging their operations are causing coastal erosion.

According to RealClearEnergy.org, however, the fact that one industry is being blamed for all of the coastline's environmental woes ought to raise red flags, as there are many other potentially harmful industries operating along the Gulf. 

“It is short-sighted to allege that a handful of oil and gas companies are the singular cause of coastal erosion in Louisiana,” Lana Venable of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch told Louisiana Record. “Research from a variety of credible scientific organizations has also shown subsidence, sea level rise, development of levees, natural disasters and other factors have an impact on our wetlands.”

RealClearEnergy lists the construction, shipping and other heavy industries on a list of those that could be contributing to the erosion, but the targeting of oil and gas companies is likely to result in larger payouts as they are some of the most lucrative businesses in operation. Venable believes the lawsuits are purposely seeking out industries with the potential for the largest payouts rather than those that may actually be to blame. 

Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch Executive Director Lana Sonnier Venable   Photo courtesy of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch

Additionally, Venable said, the lawsuits do not necessarily mean that the settlements will go toward improving the coastal ecology.

“These lawsuits lay the blame at the feet of any industry with deep pockets instead of working collaboratively to identify viable, long-term solutions to wetlands loss,” Venable said. “When litigation is pursued, there is little oversight of private lawyers and no strings attached to the dollars recovered, so there is no guarantee that a legal settlement would have any meaningful impact on addressing Louisiana’s environmental challenges.”

Instead of lawsuits, Venable said, there are other courses of action that would be more helpful and could be readily put into action.

“A public policy issue as important as this one is better suited for elected lawmakers than trial lawyers,” she said.

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