Coastal Protection Authority defends its lawsuit against big oil

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Joint Legislative Transportation committee heard testimony on Wednesday from The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority or SLFPA. The topic is the authorities lawsuit filed against 97 defendants most of which represent oil and gas interests. This issue has sharply divided SLFPA from Governor Jindal's administration who says the knock against big oil would hurt the state.

"There's recognition that there's a bigger picture and that bigger picture is the fact that the energy industry in Louisiana provides 300,000 jobs," says Garrett Graves of the Coastal Protection and Recovery Authority."The energy industry includes over $80 billion in annual economic activity."

Both committee chairmen Robert Adley, R-Benton, and Graves agree that the suit could earn billions for lawyers and does not address the multiple causes of coastal erosion. Adley says he agrees in part for the lawsuit but adds that a large part of the entire country should be chipping in because so much of the countries drainage ends up in Louisiana.

"I'm just going to tell you straight up that I agree with you totally that we have been used and abused in this state, says Adley. "41 percent of America sits in the Mississippi valley, 41 percent of America drains to one place and it's high time America stood up and did something."

SLFPA says the lawsuit is needed to get oil and gas companies to deal with years of damage they have done to Louisiana's wetlands. The committee did not take a vote on Wednesday's testimony.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.