BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday he would delay signing a bill he fought for throughout the 2014 legislative session — one aimed at killing a lawsuit filed by a southeast Louisiana levee board against 97 oil and gas companies over damage to the state's fragile wetlands.
Jindal said he agreed to the delay at the request of the state attorney general. The delay comes after opponents of the bill circulated a memo from legal experts who said the bill might have unintended consequences affecting state and local governments' claims against BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
At a news conference, Jindal said he and his legal staff are certain the bill would not harm state or local interests. "However, the attorney general's asked for additional time to look at the law. Out of an abundance of caution we are giving the attorney general's office time to look at the law."
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said his office may release a statement later.
The governor has until June 22 to veto the measure, should he decide that is necessary. If he takes no action, the bill would become law without his signature.
Jindal never explicitly mentioned the possibility of a veto before his staff ended the news conference, where he had been scheduled to sign the bill into law. Spokesman Mike Reed declined to add to what Jindal said at the news conference, which fell in the final hours of the 2014 regular session.
Jindal has joined the oil and gas industry in vociferously opposing the lawsuit filed last year by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. The suit, now in federal court, says drilling and dredging by oil, gas and pipeline companies are partially to blame for the degradation of coastal wetlands that serve as a natural hurricane buffer for New Orleans. Proponents say it could bring billions of dollars needed to fund the state coastal restoration effort.
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