Jindal signs bill to kill levee control board lawsuit
BATON ROUGE - Governor Bobby Jindal signed a bill into law today that was created to derail a lawsuit filed by a levee control board against 97 oil companies which the suit claimed destroyed wetlands as part of their operations.
Jindal said SB 469 would stop "unnecessary, frivolous lawsuits" in Louisiana by only allowing certain groups to bring lawsuits for permitted activities on the coast, such as oil exploration.
Opponents of the measure said Friday that more than 70 legal scholars claimed the bill would threaten state and local litigation over the BP oil spill. Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said Thursday he had concerns the bill was too broad and would have unintended consequences, and he also recommended Jindal veto it.
Jindal's chief counsel disagreed, saying any concerns were addressed during the lengthy debate the bill went through during the legislative session. The governor's office also released a legal memo Friday explaining why they disagreed with the attorney general's recommendation.
The suit from the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority, which is now in federal court, claims drilling and dredging by oil and gas companies degraded coastal wetlands which act as natural hurricane barriers for New Orleans. The authority is expected to challenge the new law in court.
President Don Briggs of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association called the signing a "huge victory" for the oil and gas industry.
Jindal announced the signing in a mid-morning press release. He is scheduled to headline the Silver Elephant dinner in South Carolina for the state's Republican party tonight at 6 p.m.