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Jul 25, 2013
Governor Jindal Demands Board Pull Lawsuit to Stop Trial Lawyer Windfall

BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal demanded that the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPAE) cancel a contract with trial lawyers because the suit oversteps the authority of the SLFPAE and the legality of the contract is in question. Governor Jindal emphasized that he is not going to let a single levee board – taken over by a group of trial lawyers – determine flood protection, coastal restoration and economic repercussions for the state. 
 
First, the SLFPAE overstepped its authority. The Louisiana State Legislature established the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) as the entity responsible for the state’s policy for coastal issues. By filing this suit against nearly 100 companies, the SLFPAE has effectively taken on the role of the Governor, the Attorney General, the Department of Natural Resources and the CPRA in determining the state’s policy on coastal issues. 
 
Second, the legality of the contract is in question. Louisiana Revised Statute 42:262 provides for any special attorney or counsel to represent a state board or commission for services which any compensation is to be paid by it “solely on written approval of the governor and the Attorney General and pay only such compensation as the governor and the Attorney General may designate in the written approval.” The Governor did not approve this contract – nor would he have approved this contract.  
 
Governor Jindal said, “This is nothing but a windfall for a handful of trial lawyers. It boils down to trial lawyers who see dollar signs in their future and who are taking advantage of people who want to restore Louisiana’s coast. These trial lawyers are taking this action at the expense of our coast and thousands of hardworking Louisianians who help fuel America by working in the energy industry. 
 
“We’re not going to allow a single levee board that has been hijacked by a group of trial lawyers to determine flood protection, coastal restoration and economic repercussions for the entire State of Louisiana.
 
“This suit takes a myopic view of coastal Louisiana that actually jeopardizes and undermines our ability to implement the Master Plan. 
 
“The lawsuit oversteps the authority of the board by attempting to act on behalf of the state to determine coastal policy. The legality of the contract is also in question because Louisiana statute requires my approval in such matters. The board should pull the contract immediately.  
 
“A better approach to helping restore Louisiana’s coast includes holding the Army Corps of Engineers accountable, pushing for more offshore revenue sharing and holding BP accountable for the damage their spill is doing to our coast.
 
“The protection of our coastal environment is a priority.  We should not allow for any activities that cause or exacerbate coastal erosion.  Since taking office, the Department of Natural Resources and the Coastal Protection Restoration Authority have reformed coastal zone regulations, revised the coastal zone jurisdiction and improved policies related to the sustainability of our coast.  We now require the beneficial use of dredge material and other restorative actions in the coastal zone.  We have also made unprecedented investments in coastal restoration and protection – the largest investments in our coast in Louisiana history.
 
“We have repeatedly pushed the Department of the Interior to evaluate and mitigate for the cumulative impacts of offshore energy production in our state.  While the U.S. Treasury has pocketed nearly $200 billion from offshore energy production, a fraction of one percent has been returned to our state for restoration and protection projects.  Meanwhile, up to 90 percent of revenues from energy production onshore is re-invested in the states that host such production.  This disparity in federal laws needs to end.
 
“Instead of tying up the future of Louisiana’s coast in court with the benefits only to be reaped by a group of trial lawyers, we believe the better way to direct offshore energy company revenues into Louisiana’s coast is through revenue sharing from offshore energy production. In fact, Louisiana voters overwhelmingly decided this issue years ago by approving a constitutional amendment that would dedicate all future offshore energy revenues to coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects in Louisiana’s master plan. The recent efforts in Congress to increase Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act funds are encouraging, but more needs to be done.”
 
 
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