Louisiana Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Pelican Institute describes lawsuits against energy industry as 'risky' and 'destructive'


By Carrie Bradon | Jul 17, 2019

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell is a proponent of the lawsuits deemed "risky" and "destructive" to the state's economy by critics.

Following a string of lawsuits filed against the energy industry, business groups are concerned about the toll that pursuing litigation against major job providers may have on the state. New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell, however, is determined to seek out relief for purported damages.

In an interview with lead coastal reporter for WWNO-FM radio Tegan Wendland, Cantrell explained how the alleged damage has taken place due to channels that the energy industry dug years ago.

“The channels are contributing to the erosion of our marshes and the marshes in particular around the city act as natural buffers against storm surge," Cantrell said. "The more land there is between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico, the safer the city is when a big storm heads our way. So as those marshes have eroded, there is less protecting us, there is also, of course, a big levy floodwall system protecting the city too, but it’s not invincible and the marshes act to protect the levees to an extent as well.”

The Pelican Institute for Public Policy opposes litigation as a means for solving marsh erosion. 

“Filing a lawsuit against one of the largest job creators in Louisiana isn't just risky, it's destructive. It's destructive to the state's job market, economy and the countless Louisiana small businesses working in and alongside the oil and gas industry every day,” Pelican Institute general counsel James Baehr told Louisiana Record

Wendland said that despite the effort that has been put into the litigation, it is doubtful that there will be enough relief provided from the energy industries to undo the alleged damages the channels have caused. 

“It’s not clear how this will all pan out, there are a handful of other parishes who have also filed suits and they started a few years ago,” Wendland said. "The state has also gotten involved at this point, which strengthens these cases, but even if Orleans Parish wins, it likely won’t result in a lot of money and it surely wouldn’t be enough to rebuild the many miles of marshes that have disappeared."

Baehr believes in rehabilitating the coasts, but that litigation puts jobs at risk. 

“Even if the suits continue forward, the primary beneficiaries will be the small group of trial attorneys who stand to profit on the backs of Louisiana's energy workers. Rebuilding the coast is critical, but this lawsuit won't help, all at the expense of jobs and opportunity for working families across the state,” Baehr said.

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