Gov. Edwards says state of La. moving forward with oil and gas i - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Gov. Edwards says state of La. moving forward with oil and gas industry suit

Source: WAFB Source: WAFB

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday that the state will move forward with a lawsuit against the oil and gas industry. 

Louisiana has an ongoing lawsuit over coastal erosion caused by salt water getting into marshes through canals created by oil and gas companies. 

"I had a meeting with the oil, gas industry," Edwards said. "They didn't express interest in talking so we're moving forward with the suit."

The lawsuit has gone back and forth in court for quite some time, but Edwards said it has never been more important for him to play an active role in pursuing the matter and ensuring that it comes to a resolution. 

"We need to play an active role in making sure that we are holding oil and gas companies to the word that they would restore damaged to our coast that they caused by their exploration and production activities and I don't think anybody, not even the oil and gas industry, denies that they caused unrepaired coastal damages and in fact their own studies show it," Edwards said. 

The governor is set to sit down with Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is currently criticizing Edwards' choice in lawyers to represent the state. 

Edwards added he is unsure about the attorney general's motives in disagreeing with the legal team and said he is willing to work through the issues and discuss concerns with the AG, but his choice of legal representation is off the table. 

"I'm looking for the best representation," the governor said.

The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association and the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association issued the following join statement in response to Gov. Edwards' announcement. 

The governor’s comments today are an obvious attempt to deflect from the very serious conflict of interest issues that have been raised by the media in recent weeks.

Major newspapers in Louisiana have published a slew of editorials and columns calling on Governor Edwards to make good on his ethics pledge and stop the system of good ol’ boy government that seems to be flourishing under his administration. Many citizens have raised concerns about cronyism and political patronage as well.

Rather than working to address these issues, it seems the governor is doubling down on this flawed attempt to hire private lawyers to attack Louisiana’s energy industry. That’s alarming, particularly given that the first two lawsuits to proceed to major decisions have been dismissed by federal and state courts.

The reality is the administration already has every tool it needs to protect the coast. The State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act provides for an exhaustive set of fines and penalties that can be levied by the Department of Natural Resources to enforce the terms of state issued permits. But issuing fines and penalties for alleged violations, as the department is required to do by state law, doesn’t produce billions in legal fees.

Whatever their outcome, these lawsuits are not a funding mechanism for state or local government budgets and they will not help protect the coast.  On the contrary, they divert critical time and resources away from the industry’s support of Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts, which have been underway for decades.

Louisiana’s oil and natural gas industry is the largest private investor in our state’s coast. These efforts would be better supported and strengthened through collaboration, not litigation.

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