Oil and gas industry will fight coastal protection lawsuit
NEW ORLEANS - Officials in the oil and gas industry say they will vigorously defend against a lawsuit accusing companies of damaging hundreds of acres of coastal land that serve as a natural buffer against hurricane flooding.
A statement from Chris John, president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, called the lawsuit filed Wednesday a "contingency lawsuit where the plaintiff attorneys stand to gain millions of dollars."
The industry group declined to comment further.
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East's board of commissioners filed the lawsuit against dozens of companies Wednesday in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.
The board says corrosive saltwater from a network of oil and gas access and pipeline canals has killed vegetation and swept away mountains of soil.
The board says it will have to bear many of the costs associated with the need for increased flood protection.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
"Even the industry recognizes they are responsible for some of the land lost, and it's not an insignificant amount," said board vice president John Barry, author of "Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America."
About 100 companies are named as defendants in the lawsuit, including Apache Corp., BP America Production Co., Chevron USA Inc., ConocoPhillips Co., Exxon Mobil Corp., Shell Oil Co. and The Pickens Co. Inc.
The board covers most of the New Orleans area, governing the Orleans Levee District, the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District and the East Jefferson Levee District.