Garland: Wake up! Demand state lawmakers protect your family and property
If you’re not paying attention to what happens with this lawsuit and the actions of our state leaders… wake up! The future of your home, your family, your business…our community is at stake. Over 40 years ago I began warning in news story after news story about the dangers lurking as our wetlands began to disappear. Very few listened. I hope you’re listening now.
A Louisiana House committee voted Wednesday to kill a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East against 97 oil and gas companies, claiming that these companies failed to follow through on their duty to repair and restore more than 10,000 miles of canals dug through our wetlands. Studies show that oil and gas industry activity is responsible for 36.7 percent of coastal erosion in this state.
By amending Senate Bill 469, the House Committee on Natural Resources have specifcally and directly made it impossible for SLFPA-E to bring legal claims against those companies, limiting that privlege to government agencies with a Coast Zone Management Plan. The vote was 12-5 in favor of the amendment, and now the vote will go to the full House sometime next week.
We've been talking about this lawsuit for weeks and weeks with John Barry, formerly with the SLFPA-E. He joined me on "The Think Tank" this morning to discuss this development and had this to say about it: reaction?
"Well, I'm sure if this bill does pass, the attorneys will challenge it in court, but there is a precedent where the Supreme Court upheld the legislators' ability to do this. There is a reasonable possibility that this would be held unconstitutional, but there's also a reasonable possibility that it would be held constitutional. So the key is for the House to kill it when they vote on it next week."
So it looks like oil and gas companies may not have to pay up the money to repair our wetlands. Why does it matter to our listeners?
"First, there's no money in the Master Plan to protect people and rebuild the coast, and the Flood Authority doesn't have any money. Here's a single example of one project. The landbridge that juts out from New Orleans East into the lake - goes most of the way across the lake into Slidell - that is eroding away. If that disappears, then the entire Gulf of Mexico will pour unimpeded into the lake when there's a storm. That means people all around the lake who never dreamed they'd be threatened by a hurricane will suddenly be threatened."
What about the levees we already have in place?
"The levees constructed with the idea that that peninsula remained in place t block storm surge, those levees will be overtopped by any kind of major storm. Just to keep that landbridge in place would cost $1.2 billion. That's one of the highest-priority items if the authority wins the lawsuit and gets the money. That would protect every person who lives around the lake."
There's a lot more to the story and there's still time for your voice to be heard. You can call the House of Representatives switchboard at 225-342-6945 and tell your legislators what to do when the bill comes up for a full vote next week.
FULL AUDIO: Garland talks to John Barry about Flood Authority lawsuit