Louisiana's congressional delegation weighs in on coastal suit - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Louisiana's congressional delegation weighs in on coastal lawsuit

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New Orleans, La. -

The state's congressional delegation is at odds over landmark litigation.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) says she is willing to let the case run its course. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) thinks it's a bad idea.

The Louisiana marsh glistens in a way never intended.  Hundreds of miles of exploration canals, dug by the oil and gas industry over the decades, opened huge areas to saltwater.  

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed suit against the industry over the problem three days ago. The lawsuit aims to correct decades of environmental neglect in Louisiana's wetlands.

Gov. Bobby Jindal blasted the unprecedented lawsuit against 97 oil companies, and now Louisiana's congressional delegation is weighing in.

"I can understand the frustration of the flood authority, they've got a job to do," said Sen. Landrieu.

Landrieu is considered a frequent friend of the oil industry, but in this case she doesn't oppose the litigation. She says, "We have to seek justice wherever we can find it, in Washington, in Baton Rouge, and in the courts to make sure the people of Louisiana are justly compensated for this restoration."

Scalise's opinion is much more in line with the governor's. "If you look at this lawsuit it looks like it's designed to be more of a bonanza for trial lawyers and away from flood protection," said Scalise.

Scalise also worries about the impact on business, saying, "Anytime you have a government agency go after an industry for something done 50 years ago by somebody else, I think that sends a chilling message to all of business."

Landrieu says, "Most of the headquarters are already in Texas, but I'm a strong supporter of the industry and I don't want to send a negative signal."

Our congressional delegation says, whether or not the suit succeeds, they will continue to seek federal solutions. Both Landrieu and Scalise say the RESTORE Act should provide hundreds of millions of dollars to coastal restoration, once the BP litigation is through.

Once that's done, Scalise says, billions will pump into coastal aid, regardless of the outcome of this week's new lawsuit against dozens of oil companies.

Governor Jindal says the SLFPA-E overstepped its power with the lawsuit.

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