Citizens of Louisiana Continue Their Fight Against Big Oil

Sandy Rosenthal at Water Fest at Louisiana Capitol in Baton Rouge March 8, 2014. Photo/Ray Nicholls

Sandy Rosenthal at Water Fest at Louisiana Capitol in Baton Rouge March 8, 2014. Photo/Ray Nicholls

This post is also featured today in the Huffington Post.

When I heard that the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East had filed lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies, I, as the founder of Levees.org, urged our board to immediately and publicly support the suit which demanded that the energy industry fix the coast that it helped destroy. The lawsuit’s objective was consistent with our mission; that New Orleans flooded due to poorly designed levees and floodwalls, and also due to the ongoing loss of protective coastal wetlands.

Since last July, we traveled extensively to Baton Rouge, worked to build coalitions and launched multiple pro-lawsuit campaigns to counter Governor Bobby Jindal’s dual-pronged attempt to halt the lawsuit. First, the Governor had tried stacking the Authority with commissioners who agreed with him, and then later, he apparently directed the Louisiana legislature to pass bills with the intended effect of killing the lawsuit. We fought both initiatives.

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Governor Jindal Signs Bill to Kill the Big Oil Lawsuit

Then Congressman Bobby Jindal speaks at a Levees.org press event in August of 2006. Photo/Stanford Rosenthal

Then Congressman Bobby Jindal speaks at a Levees.org press event in August of 2006. Photo/Stanford Rosenthal

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal yesterday signed Senate Bill 469, legislation that was written specifically to kill a lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies for their damage to Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. The suit, brought by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East last summer, was intended to restore wetlands necessary to protect coastal communities from hurricane storm surges.

The legislation was passed despite unprecedented citizen involvement all across Louisiana. It passed despite a campaign led by Levees.org ally Robert R.M. Verchick who believed that the bill could jeopardize the state’s ability to collect claims from B.P. for the 2010 Gulf Oil Disaster. Over one hundred legal scholars joined Professor Verchick. And it passed despite the state attorney general’s recommendation that the Governor veto it.

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Senate Bill 469 may put BP claims payments at risk, expert says

Robert R.M. Verchick, Gauthier-St. Martin Chair in Environmental Law at Loyola University and  Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 and 2010

Robert R.M. Verchick, Gauthier-St. Martin Chair in Environmental Law at Loyola University and Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 and 2010

Long time Levees.org ally Robert Verchick has joined with other experts in calling for Governor Bobby Jindal to veto Senate Bill 469.

The reason is, according to their analysis, S.B. 469 may allow BP to deny paying claims from its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf.

Professor Verchick is no hack. Harvard and Stanford educated, Verchick holds the Gauthier-St. Martin Chair in Environmental Law at Loyola University and has served as Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy at the EPA in 2009 and 2010.

According to a memo addressed to Governor Jindal that Verchick has co-authored, the enrolled version of S.B. 469 awaiting action by the Governor “actually poses a new and significant risk to local and state government claims under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (“OPA”)”

For information, click here.

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