Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal today signed Senate Bill 469, legislation blocking a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies for their damage to Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. The suit, brought by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, was intended to restore wetlands necessary to protect coastal communities from flooding, storm surges, and hurricanes.
The legislation has been criticized by over 80 legal scholars for impacting claims against BP for the Deepwater Horizon disaster (more here and here), and the state attorney general recommended a veto.
“This legislation is governance at its worst: poorly written, for the worst of reasons, with no public benefit, and having potentially staggering unintended consequences. Governor Jindal, in his zeal to please the oil and gas industry and further his political ambitions, has abandoned the hundreds of thousands of Louisianians facing another hurricane season with inadequate storm protection and a disappearing coast,” said Steve Murchie, Campaign Director for the Gulf Restoration Network.
“Everyone involved in the passage of this bill owns the consequences, but no one is more responsible for shielding the oil and gas industry from accountability than Governor Jindal. He has undermined the efforts of everyone working to restore coastal Louisiana. Not only has he refused to ask the oil and gas industry to live up to their legal obligations, or contribute to coastal restoration in any meaningful way, he has actively blocked others from simply enforcing the law,” Murchie said.
“Governor Jindal’s legacy may well be having let BP off the hook for their damage to Louisiana, as well as all the other oil and gas companies that have damaged our coast. At a minimum, Governor Jindal has strengthened BP’s negotiating position at a time when the company has become even more combative and adversarial," Murchie said.
Gulf Restoration Network is a 20-year-old non-profit dedicated to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the health of the Gulf of Mexico.