levee board lawsuit

The nominating committee for the South East Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East has made its selection to fill a slot on the levee board. They voted 7-3 a week ago to renominate Paul Kemp — a geologist in the Coastal Ecology Institute at LSU — who’s current term is expiring. 

The ball is back in Gov. Jindal’s court — he can accept or reject Kemp’s nomination or ask the state Senate to consider it — and the fate of the levee board’s lawsuit against oil and gas companies over damage to coastal wetlands hangs in the balance. 

Bob Marshall, reporter with The Lens in New Orleans, has been following all this.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a bill designed to kill a levee board lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies. Legal scholars say this could imperil the state’s BP claims. 

Despite an opinion from Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell urging Gov. Jindal to veto Senate Bill 469 because, “No one can currently quantify or identify all the causes of action which will be swept away if this bill becomes law”, the governor has signed the bill.

Brought at Jindal’s request, the bill seeks to retroactively quash the levee board lawsuit charging oil and gas companies with coastal destruction. Dozens of legal scholars from around the U-S have warned that the measure may also impact pending lawsuits over the 2010 BP oil spill.

Jindal’s signing of the bill is being touted as “a victory” by the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. 

They’re called “legacy lawsuits”—when property owners sue oil and gas companies for environmental damage done in decades past. Thursday, Louisiana’s House spent hours hearing—and ultimately approving—two bills dealing with legacy lawsuits.

“When we get to court, we know there’s an issue,” explained Chalmette Representative Ray Garofalo, while introducing his bill, which would let parties on either side ask the Department of Natural Resources to come up with a remediation plan for the polluted or otherwise damaged property.