Former Levee Board member says partial deal is an important step

Former Levee Board member says partial deal is an important step

Two of the energy companies that were sued over damage to Louisiana's wetlands have settled the case out of court.

White Oak Operating and Chroma Operating companies are the first to reach an agreement with the East Bank Levee Authority. They are among the roughly 90 oil and gas companies being sued by the board.

Our partners at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune were the first to report the settlement, which comes just a couple of weeks before a federal judge hears arguments on whether to throw out the suit.

"I think one of the things it demonstrates is the claim that Jindal's made that it's a frivolous lawsuit is nonsensical," said former Levee Board member John Barry, who was instrumental in filing the suit.

Barry called the settlement by the two companies a small step, but an extremely important one. He said he wouldn't be surprised if there aren't more settlements. And Barry believes - in a best case scenario - a settlement would cover not just the Flood Authority, but would go statewide.

"And if you're talking about a statewide settlement, then you're certainly talking in the multiple billions of dollars, and I would certainly think well in excess of $10 billion - real money, the kind of money that is necessary to protect people's lives," Barry said.

Critics of the suit, including the Jindal administration, have tried to derail it. Supporters on the Levee Board now have only a one-vote margin after Jindal sacked a couple of members.

In a couple of weeks, Judge Nannette Brown hears arguments on a variety of motions that oil, gas and pipeline companies have filed in an attempt to have the case thrown out of court.

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