Updates - Archive

Dear Ally,

My report is below but first here's what we need your help on: 

There are a dozen bills in the state legislature, each one of which attacks the lawsuit. Monday April 14 the state Senate convenes and about 5:00 will vote on SB 553. This particular bill requires- RETROACTIVELY!-- that the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East get Jindal's approval before proceeding with its lawsuit against oil & gas companies over their destruction of coastal Louisiana. 

Please tell your state senator you believe the courts, not politicians bullied by the industry, should decide the lawsuit. This is important. You would be surprised how few people ever actually contact these people, and how much difference it makes. Please be polite. Some of these senators are truly undecided, some are leaning our way but need to know Louisianans support the lawsuit. Dan Claitor is running for Congress to replace Bill Cassidy, so if you're anywhere in his congressional district-- not just his state legislative district-- let him know.

Here's the report: Two things happened last week. 

1. Oil & gas is afraid to talk about the substance of the lawsuit. They have no rebuttal to the facts. Even Sen. Robert Adley, industry's biggest friend in the legislature, now concedes industry destroyed a substantial part of the coast.So they tried to shift the subject to the attorneys' contract. In fact, back in August, the attorneys volunteered to waive their contract and have their fees determined by arbitration. They essentially repeated their offer last week: if any defendant came forward in the next six months and offered to negotiate a compromise, the attorneys will have all fees paid by the defendant-- not the flood authority-- and that fee will be mutually agreed upon between the defendant and the attorneys; if they cannot reach agreement, then the fee will be settled by arbitration. Now let's get back to the real issue: saving the coast.

2. I gave a presentation to Parishes Against Coastal Erosion, a group including parish presidents, police jurors, etc from St. Tammany to Calcasieu. Under Jefferson Parish President John Young's leadership, 16 of 20 coastal parishes opposed some of the legislation which will kill the lawsuit. If you live anywhere along the coast, let your parish president know you want the lawsuit to survive and ask the parish president to tell legislators that. Ask them to oppose ANY effort to kill the suit. These things make a difference.

Remember, history doesn't happen. People make history. 

With your help, we can make some.

John Barry


Dear Fellow Concerned Citizen for the Louisiana Coast,

This is my first update on what's happening in the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East's lawsuit to force 97 oil and gas companies to comply with the law and repair what they destroyed. It won't be my last.

Let's start with some old news. In case you don't know it, on March 10, a state court threw out an attempt by the Louisiana Oil&Gas Association to kill the lawsuit, calling LOGA's attempt "frivolous." This should end any debate over whether the flood authority met legal standards to go the industry. LOGA's head Don Briggs also admitted under oath that he had no evidence whatsoever to support a claim he's made for years-- that lawsuits are driving jobs out of state. Asked to name what companies even considered lawsuits in deciding whether and where to drill, he said, "I don't know any." Asked if he could name a single company-- just one company-- which declined to drill a well in Louisiana because of lawsuits, he said, "No."

Speaking of jobs, on March 29, Restore Louisiana Now released a study by economist Timothy Ryan, PhD, the former chancellor of the University of New Orleans who before that was dean of its business school. He looked at how many jobs would be created if the state's Master Plan for coastal restoration is implemented.

The study's conclusion: between 110,000 and 212,000 new permanent jobs would come from investing money into coastal restoration. These aren't just construction jobs. Many are high tech. The Dutch make $9 billion a year selling their expertise on water around the world. That's an area Louisiana can and should compete in, but we don't right now. Instead we ourselves rely largely on the Dutch.

The problem: the Master Plan currently has only a fraction of the money needed. The purpose of the lawsuit was to demand that the industry be responsible for the damage, which was required by law and by contractual obligations to repair the damage, fix the part of the problem it created. Any money coming from the lawsuit will make a significant contribution toward funding the Master Plan.

A final piece of news: the state legislature convened on March 10. As you probably know, Restore Louisiana Now came into existence to prevent the legislature from killing the lawsuit. The oil&gas industry seems to think it's above the law, that it can get the legislature to kill a lawsuit that's already been filed. I don't think anyone should be above the law.

So the war is on. How are we doing? I talked to a state representative who is in a tough spot-- a lot of pressure from both sides. He said he isn't worried "because the bills you don't like are never coming out of the Senate--" meaning he doesn't think he'll have to vote on them. I wish he were right, but I think he's wrong. We're trying but I don't think we can stop everything in the Senate. I expect this fight to last all the way to June 2, the day the legislature adjourns.

So please contact your state representative and senator and tell him or her Let the courts decide. The legislature should not do anything that would retroactively affect a filed suit already in the courts. No one is above the law.

That's all for now. Thank you for standing with us.

John Barry