Bill would limit lawsuits against big oil companies

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The House Civil Law Committee advanced a bill to limit lawsuits looking to clean up environmental damage done by big oil companies years ago. The bill's s author Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, says it's all about lawyers making money by suing big oil. Not about cleaning things up.

"To watch them stand up and say, 'We're not going to be for anything' because it's about putting money in their pocket and not cleaning up the environment, "Adley testified.

The debate was a mixed bag of environmentalists and industry leaders. The bill was actually endorsed by the powerful lobbying group, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

"I'm going to tell you, contrary to these other folks,' says Adley. " I'm not ashamed to sit here telling you that we ought not be sitting here suing people for things they did in the 1930s under rules that were past in 1980s I'm not ashame to tell you that."

Retired Army General Russell Honore wasn't having any of the rhetoric. He says he puts the blame on environmental damage on the state agency designed to fight it.

"The problem in Louisiana why we are the most polluted state is this," says Honore. "Our laws spend more time protecting the industry than the people and this is why we have the amount of pollution we have in the state of Louisiana and you're asking us now OK don't worry about it let the state agency take care of it. It doesn't work. It isn't working."

John Carmouche, one of the lawyers reprsenting the land owners says the oil companies do not want to clean up the environment.

"We don't need trial dates," Carmouche says.  "We don't need lawsuits. The oil companies if they want to clean they can go to DNR right no. They can look up every oil field they operated and every iron pit where they disposed of contamination and they can go to that land owner and go to DNR and clean it up.

The measure has cleared the Senate and it now goes to the House floor for their consideration.

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.