The Fifth Circuit has already signaled fairly clearly that these lawsuits by municipalities and other local governmental bodies attempting to recover from oil companies for the loss of the state’s coastline don’t have any merit. But that doesn’t appear to have stopped the clowns running St. John the Baptist Parish, which isn’t even along Louisiana’s coast, from filing another one.
Saying that oil and gas companies need to “clean up the mess” they’ve made, St. John the Baptist Parish has joined with five other parishes in suing oil and gas companies for damage to coastal areas.
The lawsuit, filed in state court by St. John District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut, is similar to ones filed in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Cameron and Vermilion parishes. Lafourche has hired attorneys to represent the parish but as of yet has not filed a suit.
Like those filed before it, the St. John suit accuses oil companies of damaging the coast during operations and then refusing to restore the land to its original condition, as the law requires.
“That’s what they failed to do,” said John Carmouche, a lawyer hired by Dinvaut’s office to handle the suit. His firm also is handling the suits filed by the five other parishes. “They just left.”
In St. John, Dinvaut said, one of the major effects of the coastal damage is flooding. Many areas in St. John were hit especially hard during Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
“Restoring our coast and environment is an important economic impetus for our citizens,” Dinvaut said in a statement.
In case you don’t know who Carmouche is, he’s the guy responsible for the formation of two anti-Vitter PAC’s in the 2015 elections which so successfully drove home the “hookers” meme in the governor’s race that year. It was the third-party money which softened Vitter up so that John Bel Edwards could emerge as the winner of that race. Carmouche made a name for himself not in the coastal lawsuit realm but rather as the league champion in the “legacy lawsuit” game, wherein he’s sued oil companies on behalf of landowners for alleged environmental damage done decades ago by oil drilling. Louisiana is the only state where those lawsuits commonly result in awards far greater than the economic value of the land affected by them, and Vitter supported efforts by the energy industry and others to bring state law more in line with the national standard.
Carmouche didn’t care about hookers. He just wasn’t very honest about what he did care about.
Carmouche is also a member of Edwards’ private cabal of plaintiff attorneys pushing these coastal lawsuits, the goal of which is not to convince judges they have value but rather to buffalo oil companies into settlement negotiations. So far they’ve earned the governor and his pals a giant middle finger from the energy industry, whose response has mostly been to avoid investing in Louisiana jobs and activity as much as possible while making those investments in other states. Oil and gas has rightly, according to the Fifth Circuit, pointed out that coastal loss particularly in southeastern Louisiana is mostly due to having leveed the Mississippi to its mouth and thus denied the marshlands their annual replenishment of river silt from spring floods; canals cut through marshland to service offshore oil operations were moreover put in place according to permits given by the state and local governments and are therefore not actionable at law.
It’s an attempt at theft. It won’t go anywhere; we already know this.
The hope is that if these cases can get into state courts and run up to the Louisiana Supreme Court, Carmouche and his crowd have bought up enough judges to earn a reward. But this is not a state controversy, and it’s not going to be resolved outside of federal court. Bought or not bought, so-called conservative elected judges in Louisiana are not going to fall on the sword for John Carmouche when kicking these cases to the federal courts is obviously the appropriate call.
You would think the supposed adults running these parish governments would recognize this for the scam it is and not agree to be pawns in it. But you would be wrong.