Jindal signs bill to scuttle levee board oil suit

Despite attempts by many elected officials, environmental advocates and even the state's attorney general to sway Governor Bobby Jindal to veto Senate Bill 469, Friday, he announced he signed the measure.

The bill aims to kill the East Bank levee board's lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies for partial damage to coastal wetlands.

"[The governor] made a clear choice to stick people in Greater New Orleans with the bill, rather than get that money from the oil and gas industry," said Steve Murchie with the Gulf Restoration Network. "We feel like Governor Jindal abandoned the people of coastal Louisiana. You know, there was a clear cut choice here to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for the damage they've done to the wetlands. It's those wetlands that provide us protection from hurricanes and storm surge and flood protection."

Critics have also said the bill could threaten litigation connected to the 2010 BP oil spill -- but Jindal and his top attorney said they disagree.

Jindal calls the lawsuit frivolous, and those siding with the governor believe it threatens jobs across the state.

Friday, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry said, "This law will help restore order and coordination to Louisiana's approach on how best to tackle our coastal challenge."

But opposition has been widespread -- from a group of law professors from across the country to the New Orleans City Council.

"I'm very disappointed hearing that [Jindal] did sign it today," said District D Councilman Jared Brossett."In essence, I believe what that does is takes the power away from the citizens of Louisiana to seek relief."

"400 to 600 square miles of coastal Louisiana have been lost because of the oil and gas industry's activities in the wetlands. I don't consider that frivolous," Murchie said.

Critics of Jindal's decision believe the measure will be challenged in the courts.

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