Governor John Bel Edwards is trying to pressure local and parish governments to sue the oil and gas industry. If they don’t sue, the state will sue and he will hire private attorneys who raised money for him to carry out those lawsuits.
In an interview with WWL-TV, he claims that he tried to arrange a settlement with the oil and gas industry but they said. Now he’s going to sue to recover money to rebuild Louisiana’s coastline.
“I did have a meeting with the oil and gas industry, at which time they didn’t express much interest in continuing to talk,” Edwards said. “So, as I said I would do, we are going to move forward with the litigation.”
The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association and the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association put out a joint statement blasting John Bel’s war on their industry.
“Rather than working to address these issues, it seems the governor is doubling down on this flawed attempt to hire private lawyers to attack Louisiana’s energy industry. That’s alarming, particularly given that the first two lawsuits to proceed to major decisions have been dismissed by federal and state courts. “
“The reality is the administration already has every tool it needs to protect the coast. The State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act provides for an exhaustive set of fines and penalties that can be levied by the Department of Natural Resources to enforce the terms of state issued permits. But issuing fines and penalties for alleged violations, as the department is required to do by state law, doesn’t produce billions in legal fees.”
“Whatever their outcome, these lawsuits are not a funding mechanism for state or local government budgets and they will not help protect the coast. On the contrary, they divert critical time and resources away from the industry’s support of Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts, which have been underway for decades.”
The state already has a $50 billion master plan to restore the coastline. The plan is expected to be paid for out of money the state receives from fines, Congressional appropriations, and a growing share of offshore oil and gas revenues.
This lawsuit is not designed to save the coast because a court will show that the Army Corps of Engineers levee system along the Mississippi River has done the most damage to the coastline. When a river is leveed like the Mississippi is, it prevents silt from building land at the lower end of its delta. That’s why the coastline is shrinking.
The purpose of the lawsuit is to make John Bel’s buddies rich and to destroy the oil and gas industry. If the state imposes new draconian fees in order to do business in Louisiana, the oil and gas companies will simply move their service operations to Texas and Mississippi. The effect on Louisiana’s economy will be devastating.