NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to revive a Louisiana flood protection board’s lawsuit seeking to make oil, gas and pipeline companies pay for decades of damage to coastal wetlands.
The suit drew fierce opposition from the energy industry and many in state government when it was filed in 2013 by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. The suit said the industry’s dredging of canals in coastal drilling areas contributed to loss of wetlands that form a hurricane buffer for New Orleans, meaning more work and expense for the board in protecting and maintaining levees.
A federal district judge’s 2015 ruling held that federal and state law provided no avenue by which the board could bring the suit. A federal appeals court in New Orleans agreed, leading to the board’s request for Supreme Court Review. The request was denied without comment, except to note, without explanation, that Justice Samuel Alito, took no part in the matter.
While the denial brings an end to the flood board’s suit, some coastal parishes are pursuing similar lawsuits on different legal grounds.
Most Read Business Stories
- All flights in and out of Paine Field canceled Monday as 5G bars regional jets
- Washington attorney general sues Google over location tracking
- Can anyone satisfy Amazon’s craving for electric vans?
- Seattle home-price growth heats up a bit as much of U.S. cools
- Amazon Go is moving toward the suburbs, starting in Mill Creek
The flood board had argued that damage to the coast done by decades of drilling and canal dredging by energy companies contributed to the loss of coastal wetlands. The wetlands form a hurricane buffer for New Orleans and the authority argued their loss meant more work and expense in protecting and maintaining levees.
When the lawsuit was filed in 2013, environmentalists hailed it as an effort to hold the industry accountable.
Then-Gov. Bobby Jindal joined industry leaders in calling it a boon for trial lawyers that would damage an industry that’s among south Louisiana’s major employers.
Jindal, a Republican, mounted a partially successful effort to remove supporters of the lawsuit from the flood protection board as their terms ended and replace them with industry supporters.
“From the outset of the case, I personally believed that the Flood Protection Authority was not the proper party to bring such a suit,” Joe Hassinger, a Jindal appointee and now the president of the flood board, said in a statement. “Nonetheless, we allowed the case to proceed through the legal system, as we were obligated to do by contract. The Flood Protection Authority has had its day in court.”
Jindal’s successor, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, was traveling Monday and not immediately available for comment. Edwards has urged energy companies to work toward a settlement in the parish cases. Industry leaders have resisted, saying the suits are meritless.