Coastal lawsuits put residents and local economy at risk, LLAW says

By Carrie Bradon | May 28, 2019

Amid numerous coastal erosion lawsuits filed by parishes against the oil and gas industry, state Rep. Stuart Bishop, chairman of the Louisiana House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment, recently wrote an article posted on DailyComet questioning the motivation of one such lawsuit.

According to Bishop, the course of action pursued by Terrebonne Parish, namely in the hiring of private plaintiff’s lawyers, calls into question the true purpose of coastal erosion litigation, saying, “If these suits really are about protecting the coast as DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and the administration have claimed, then they should be working with the very people who live and work on the coast — not against them.”

Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) also commented on the potentially harmful nature of the lawsuits. 

“Rep. Bishop is spot on in supporting Terrebonne Parish officials who recognize that coastal lawsuits are counterproductive and have a real impact on both families and the local economy,” Lana Venable, executive director of LLAW said.

LLAW Executive Director Lana Venable  

Bishop believes that these lawsuits against the oil and gas industry, rather than bringing money into the state, will result in the targeted companies leaving the state, as both Terrebonne and Lafayette have already been impacted by the decline in oil and gas production. Like Bishop, Venable believes that the parish’s hiring decisions are suspicious and create a degree of murkiness surrounding the situation.

“Further, the parish’s hiring of private plaintiff’s attorneys appears to fly in the face of the state law designed to increase state agencies’ transparency in this area,” Venable said. 

Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove appears to be pushing for more sustainable options than lawsuits, which is encouraging to groups such as LLAW.

“Parish President Dove has already made it clear that he supports economic development over lawsuits," Venable said. "Lawsuits are no substitute for a collaborative, long-term approach to addressing Louisiana’s coastal issues.”

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