Trial Lawyer Suits Against the Oil and Gas Industry – Courts Are Saying They’re a Bad Idea
The following is by Marc Ehrhardt who is the Executive Director of the Grow Louisiana Coalition
For more than two years, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East has been held hostage to trial lawyers as they pursued an appeal on a lawsuit that was tossed out of district court. Those lawyers lost again. It’s time for these frivolous attempts to stop. Two federal courts have said so.
Lawsuits by parishes and state entities like the flood authority are really trial-lawyer sponsored attacks against thousands of Louisiana-based businesses and the tens of thousands of their employees. Trial lawyers and some politicians are playing legal roulette where they hope to strike it rich. This is the best time for parish leaders who have sued the industry to reexamine their choices and to end this charade once and for all.
Louisiana’s oil and natural gas industry is the No. 1 private investor in the state’s coast. It has been for decades. The industry has always supported alliances with state and local governments as well as professional organizations and wetlands conservation groups. Currently, a partnership between the New Orleans Geological Society and five Louisiana universities is using $200 million in industry data to conduct research of seismic faults along the Louisiana coast. Miles of oyster reefs have been created through cooperative programs between the industry and local communities. The largest private wetlands landowner in the U.S. – an energy company – is caring for wetlands extending 120 miles west to east from the Atchafalaya Basin to the Mississippi River. Another energy company planted more than 1 million trees in coastal and marsh lands.
These are projects where the industry, communities and the state and federal governments are working together. The only people missing are trial lawyers, who instead are trying to rake in millions for themselves.
Publicists and commentators for this failed lawsuit fiasco have used the lawsuit as a forum to unfairly characterize the history of the oil and natural gas industry in our state. They ignored or disparaged the industry’s ongoing contributions to the environment and confused the public about the real causes of the coastal challenges we face and can address by working together. Louisiana needs to end frivolous lawsuits.