Analysis: Bills to scuttle 'Big Oil' suit progress

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 27, 2014 at 8:24 pm •  Published: April 27, 2014

"The governor would effectively serve as the prosecutor, judge and jury," according to an analysis by the New Orleans-based watchdog group Bureau of Governmental Research. It noted that the bill provides no opportunity for a member targeted by the governor to put up a defense.

Last week Adley removed the "public policy" language. But, as the bill awaits more Senate debate, some senators still question how the governor would unilaterally determine that a state law was broken. It's worth noting that Adley has said the board broke the law when it hired outside counsel to pursue the lawsuit.

Legislative momentum appears to be on the side of Jindal, Adley and the oil industry.

"I cannot explain why legislators are not listening to the voices of their constituents," Dasbach said when asked last week about the success the bills have had so far in the Senate — despite a poll commissioned by lawsuit backers that indicates public support for the lawsuit.

Litigation will continue no matter what the Legislature does.

Aside from any constitutional challenges to the bills Adley is pushing, there is also the matter of coastal protection lawsuits — similar to the one filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East — that have been filed by officials in Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes.

There is proposed legislation that could affect those lawsuits as well.

However, Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, has delayed hearings on his bill that would outline a way for local and parish governments to handle environmental cleanup disputes without going to court.

The Advocate newspaper reported that the delay came as some local government officials worried courts might use the procedures to support the oil and gas industry's contention that local governments had no authority to file a lawsuit alleging noncompliance with a state-issued permit.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Kevin McGill is an Associated Press reporter based in New Orleans