Landrieu sidesteps debate over levee board lawsuit

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 7, 2014 at 3:24 pm •  Published: April 7, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu distanced herself Monday from a lawsuit filed by a New Orleans-area levee board against more than 90 oil and gas companies, saying litigation isn't the way to restore her state's lost wetlands.

"I do not think that lawsuits are going to save the coast of Louisiana," Landrieu told the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

But Landrieu, a Democrat, also wouldn't wade into the ongoing legislative debate about whether state lawmakers should pass bills sought by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal to nullify the lawsuit.

"I am not going to get in the middle of that debate. This is a state issue. They can decide what they want," she said when questioned about the bills.

Landrieu is chair of the U.S. Senate committee that deals with energy policy. The lawsuit puts her between two areas in which she's been a strong advocate: rebuilding Louisiana's coast and supporting the oil and gas industry.

The levee board sued the oil and gas companies, blaming their drilling activities for coastal erosion in the state's vulnerable wetlands.

Jindal is supporting a series of bills by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, that seek to undermine the lawsuit and rework the flood authority board to limit its independence. Several of the proposals have been moving through the Senate without roadblock so far.

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