2 La. parishes file suits against oil companies

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 12, 2013 at 7:46 pm •  Published: November 12, 2013

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two southeast Louisiana parishes filed multiple lawsuits against numerous oil and gas companies Tuesday, claiming they failed to restore damage their operations did to coastal areas while releasing toxic pollutants, in violation of state law.

Attorneys for Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes said the lawsuits were filed in state district courts Tuesday. Copies were released Tuesday evening.

The lawsuits — 21 in Plaquemines, seven in Jefferson — allege a variety of environmental law violations, including operating unpermitted waste pits and the dredging of canals without proper permits and without using techniques aimed at preventing erosion and encroachment of salt water from the Gulf of Mexico.

Exact monetary amounts aren't mentioned in the suits, which ask for "costs necessary to clear, revegetate, detoxify and otherwise restore" specified coastal areas in the two parishes.

Parish officials contacted Tuesday afternoon referred calls to the lawyers.

The lawsuits brought swift condemnation from Louisiana Oil and Gas Association president Don Briggs.

"These suits are more of the same," Briggs said in a news release. "Extort as much money from the oil and gas industry as possible, thus lining the pockets of a small group of trial lawyers."

The suits come months after a south Louisiana flood-control board filed its own lawsuit, now in federal court, over alleged wetlands loss caused by oil, gas and pipeline companies. That suit also was criticized by industry leaders and by Gov. Bobby Jindal and his top coastal official, Garret Graves.

Graves was more tempered in his reaction to the latest suits.

"Businesses should be operating in compliance with existing regulations," Graves said Tuesday evening. "We have asked the Department of Natural Resources to review the lawsuits and the permits in question."

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