Coastal group asks levee board to drop suit

DULAC (AP) — The state’s coastal restoration authority voted Wednesday to ask a New Orleans-area flood control board to drop its lawsuit seeking damages from nearly 100 oil and gas companies over coastal erosion allegedly caused by dredging and digging for canals and pipelines.

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s decision followed a contentious 3½ hour discussion of the decision by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East to file the suit.

Coastal Protection Chairman Garret Graves said the authority would not immediately go to court to enforce the demand on the flood authority but said other actions were likely to be taken soon to bring a halt to the lawsuit.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has characterized the lawsuit as a windfall for trial lawyers. Graves has attacked it as a needless assault on an important Louisiana industry that could undermine the state’s comprehensive effort to fight coastal land loss. Oil and gas companies have provided land rights and donated money and in-kind services to coastal restoration efforts, Graves has said.

Other opponents include the oil and gas industry and numerous state lawmakers.

Backers of the lawsuit said the industry has done much for the state but hasn’t been held sufficiently accountable for the damage done by dredging for canals and pipelines that have contributed greatly to the loss of wetlands that serve as a natural buffer against hurricane storm surge.

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