A United States District Judge has decided to send a local parish's lawsuit against multiple oil and gas companies back to state court from federal court in a case that may have far-reaching implications in Louisiana's ongoing coastal-erosion litigation against the state's energy industry.
According to ClimateLiabilityNews.org, Plaquemines Parish has alleged that the oil and gas companies are in violation of the Louisiana State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act by failing to restore wetlands to their original condition before they were damaged by the industry’s operations. Judge Martin L.C. Feldman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled that Plaquemines Parish has excluded itself from any federal law claims and that the lawsuit must be heard in the state court, which is the venue in which it was initially filed.
Plaquemines Parish is arguing that the implications of the lawsuit should be heard at the state level, although the oil and gas industry, the defendants in the case, have already said that they plan to appeal Feldman’s ruling. Regardless of where this individual case is heard or the direction the litigation takes as a whole, an advocacy group for the energy industry and other traditional economic drivers for the state of Louisiana says the lawsuits will only hurt the state by alienating one of its most important contributors.
“Partnering with Louisiana's oil and natural gas industry is the path to protecting Louisiana's working coast," said Marc Ehrhardt, executive director of Grow Louisiana Coalition told Louisiana Record. "Nothing good comes from lawsuits."
Judge Martin L.C. Feldman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana Wikipedia
The coalition cited examples of oil and gas companies protecting the very coast the parishes are accusing it of destroying.
"In places like Port Fourchon and other parishes across south Louisiana, the industry is working on large-scale, innovative ideas that can increase commerce while protecting infrastructure and building up the working coast," the statement said. "Industry, science and communities are coming together to make things happen.”
While the parishes may be hoping to bring money into their communities through large settlements from the energy industry, Grow Louisiana believes this course of action is only going to hurt those communities in the long run.
“The courtroom should not be viewed as a potential income stream for parishes and the state,” Ehrhardt said. “On the contrary, these years-long efforts take critical time and resources away from the industry’s support of Louisiana’s coastal efforts, which have been underway for decades."