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AG recommends vetoing levee lawsuit bill

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Posted: Jun 4, 2014 6:23 PM by Russell Jones
Updated: Jun 4, 2014 6:23 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: levee board, lawsuit, bill, bobby jindal, attorney general, veto, buddy caldwell

BATON ROUGE - Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's office recommended Governor Bobby Jindal veto a bill designed to kill a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies claiming their work damaged the state's wetlands.

However, Jindal's chief counsel said they "respectfully disagree" with the AG's objections.

Caldwell said he's concerned SB 469 is overly broad, and could have serious unintended consequences down the road. He said the bill would prohibit the state and all local governmental entities from pursuing legal action against a wide swath of activities, and a subsection of the bill detailing what they could pursue was too limited.

Jindal's executive counsel, Thomas Enright Jr., said the objections brought up by the attorney general were the same as those offered by opponents to the bill, and that the concerns were "properly considered and publicly debated at length."

The governor and the energy industry have been critical of the lawsuit from the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority, and SB 469 was crafted specifically to kill the board's lawsuit by changing what they had the authority to sue for.

On Wednesday, Jindal's chief lawyer called the levee protection board's lawsuit "irresponsible."

"Simply put, this piece of legislation was fully debated, was the subject of intense media coverage throughout the session and now represents the Louisiana Legislature's intent to make absolutely clear that irresponsible lawsuits, such as the one filed by the SLFPA-E, are unwelcome in this state," Enright said in his letter to the AG's office.

Legal experts expressed concerns that signing the bill would jeopardize claims on the table from BP over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which is why Caldwell requested a chance to review the measure before Jindal signed it.

The governor has until June 22 to sign or veto the measure. If he does neither, it will become law without his signature.

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