Sunday, February 15, 2015

Judge tosses coastal damage suit against oil companies

coastal erosion

The Associated Press's Kevin McGill reports:

A lawsuit filed in 2013 by a Louisiana flood board that sought damages - potentially in the billions of dollars - from scores of oil, gas and pipeline companies over erosion of the state's fragile coast was thrown out Friday evening by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Nanette Jolivette Brown dismissed the suit in a complex 49-page ruling rejecting the board's contention that, under federal laws, the energy companies had a duty to protect the flood board from the effects of coastal erosion.
"We don't think this is going to be the last word on it," James Swanson, a lawyer for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, said in a telephone interview. He said attorneys for the flood authority were studying the ruling. He said attorneys had not yet decided on their next move, but that the case would likely wind up at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The flood authority, which oversees New Orleans-area levee boards, had claimed in the lawsuit that coastal drilling and dredging activities contributed to the loss of coastal wetlands that form a natural hurricane protection buffer for New Orleans.
The lawsuit caused a political furor in Louisiana. The suit's backers said it was necessary to hold energy companies accountable for decades of damage and that it was one of the state's few hopes for funding coastal protection and restoration efforts with an estimated price tag of at least $50 billion over the coming decades.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and oil industry leaders condemned it as an attack on a vital industry and said it undermined the state's efforts to protect and restore the coast. The Legislature passed a bill to kill the lawsuit although a state judge later declared that law unconstitutional, a ruling that was under appeal.

Related environmental news story:
Flood authority flexes technical muscle, and Corps of Engineers responds - The lens
Mon, 09 Feb 2015 23:23:01 GMT
But for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, it was vindication for the reforms that birthed it after Hurricane Katrina. Read more ...

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