This afternoon, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law Senate Bill 469, which will kill the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East's (SLFPA-E) lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies for for their role in coastal damage.
Earlier this week, attorney general Buddy Caldwell asked Jindal to veto the measure. Yesterday, New Orleans City Council also sent a letter to Jindal asking for a veto.)
In a statement, Jindal said, "This bill will help stop frivolous lawsuits and create a more fair and predictable legal environment, and I am proud to sign it into law. It further improves Louisiana’s legal environment by reducing unnecessary claims that burden businesses so that we can bring even more jobs to our state. The bill will also send future recovered dollars from CZMA litigation to coastal projects, allowing us to ensure Louisiana coastal lands are preserved and that our communities are protected.”
The bill's author, state Sen. Bret Allain, said, “As a senator, and life-long resident of a coastal parish, there is no one who is more concerned about protecting the state I love. The fact is the Louisiana Legislature sees the suit for what it is, a frivolous lawsuit that hurts jobs, and we have voiced our support for SB 469 to end this frivolous lawsuit. I am proud that the Governor is signing this legislation.”
The bill's co-sponsor, state Sen. Robert Adley, said, “This bill keeps a rogue agency from misrepresenting this State and trying to raise money through illegal actions. This lawsuit was never about repairing the coast; it was about enriching lawyers and certain individuals. I applaud the Governor for signing the bill and standing up for Louisiana and it's people.”
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) "applauds" the governor's signature. Stephen Waguespack, LABI president, thanked the bill's authors in a statement. "This law will help restore order and coordination to Louisiana’s approach on how best to tackle our coastal challenge," he said. "Working collaboratively with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and coastal communities to prioritize and implement our state plan is much more effective than vigilante justice-style lawsuits that try to divide and conquer our stakeholders for the benefit of a chosen few. ... Throughout the Legislative process, the attorneys pushing the lawsuit made it clear that they would stop at nothing to protect their contract — and we will continue to see those promised tactics play out in the media and court system in the days and weeks to come. While not unexpected, it is disappointing that opponents to Senate Bill 469 failed to persuasively make these arguments throughout the process, and are instead choosing to do so now after the Legislature has passed the bill and the three-month session is complete.”
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 Louisianans facing another hurricane season with inadequate storm protection and a disappearing coast.
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.
The result is that Louisiana taxpayers will pay for the oil and gas industry’s damage to our coast, if we can afford restoration at all.