Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal knows one thing. Okay, he knows two things — how to do exorcisms and how to be a dutiful little lickspittle for his corporate paymasters, the oil and gas companies. He just signed into law a bill to protect them against having to take responsibility for the environmental damage they do.
Rejecting the advice of his own attorney general and dozens of legal scholars, Louisiana governor and potential presidential contender Bobby Jindal effectively blocked a New Orleans-area levee board from suing oil and gas companies for allegedly destroying the state’s coasts – and in so doing, may have also derailed state and local claims against BP for damages and tax revenue lost following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“This bill will help stop frivolous lawsuits and create a more fair and predictable legal environment, and I am proud to sign it into law,” the Republican Jindal declared in a statement Friday. “It further improves Louisiana’s legal environment by reducing unnecessary claims that burden businesses so that we can bring even more jobs to our state.”
Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, was also quoted in the statement distributed by the governor’s office, hailing the measure as a “huge victory for the oil and gas industry.”
The law, SB 469, essentially bars a levee district in New Orleans’ East Bank – the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, or SLFPA-E – from pressing forward in its lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies, which it blames for exposing New Orleans to catastrophic damage from hurricanes Rita and Katrina by cutting thousands of miles of pipes and canals through sensitive barrier islands and wetlands that otherwise would have protected the coastal city.
The lawsuit, filed last summer, sought to force energy companies to restore the wetlands, fill in the canals, and pay for past damages.
Pay for damages? Surely you jest! This is capitalism for the companies and socialism for the rich, with taxpayers picking up the cost of all the negative externalities. The funny thing is that the standard line from conservatives and libertarians is that lawsuits are better than direct government regulation. That’s their argument against regulation, that if another property owner has a beef over environmental damage caused by a neighbor, they should just be able to sue over it. Until they do that. And then that’s suddenly bad.