Jindal Protects Oil Companies From Responsibility

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.”

And by “frivolous lawsuits,” he means any lawsuit that his benefactors might actually lose.

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.

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  • Trebuchet

    It makes me strangely happy that even one of the site owners messes up blockquotes.

    And quite angry that Republicans are so utterly blatant about kowtowing to their corporate masters.

  • thompjs

    Ed, can you have someone fix the home page display. It often gets stuck in some weird version, you can click “View Full Site” but that rarely works. This happens on my Win 7 with chrome and Android tablet with Chrome.

  • colnago80

    Actually, ole Bob knows 3 things. He knows that evolution is wrong, despite being a graduate of Brown, Un. with a major in biology.

  • eric

    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

    Doesn’t this violate the constitution’s prohibition against ex-post-facto laws? You can’t pass a law today to punish or prevent some action done yesterday.

  • raven

    I’ve always looked at Louisiana as a National Sacrifice Area.

    They seemed to have destroyed their environment to provide the rest of us with oil and gas. My car thanks them.

    Climate and sea level rise trends indicate that by the 21st century, the coastal regions of Louisiana won’t even exist. The Mississippi delta is sinking and sea levels are rising. This won’t end well for them.

  • Trebuchet

    @2: You’re getting the mobile version. And as you say, the “view full site” option doesn’t work. I used to get that pretty often but haven’t seen it recently.

  • keithb
  • raven

    New research: Louisiana coast faces highest rate of sea-level rise worldwide

    By Bob Marshall, Staff writer February 21, 2013 10:54am 16 comments

    Stunning new data not yet publicly released shows Louisiana losing its battle with rising seas much more quickly than even the most pessimistic studies have predicted to date.

    While state officials continue to argue over restoration projects to save the state’s sinking, crumbling coast, top researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    have concluded that Louisiana is in line for the highest rate of sea-level rise “on the planet.” *

    Indeed, the water is rising so fast that some coastal restoration projects could be obsolete before they are completed, the officials said.

    NOAA’s Tim Osborn,** an 18-year veteran of Louisiana coastal surveys, and Steve Gill, senior scientist at the agency’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, spelled out the grim reality in interviews with The Lens. When new data on the rate of coastal subsidence is married with updated projections of sea-level rise, the southeast corner of Louisiana looks likely to be under at least 4.3 feet of gulf water by the end of the century. continues

    FYI.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    It’s the best of both worlds. Us Conservatives are happy because the Free Market gets Privatized Profits, and you Liberals are happy because the Moochers get Socialized Losses.

     

    It’s good, pro-business laws like this that have made states like Mississippi the engine of the American Economy.

  • pocketnerd

    [libertarian]But Ed, selling laws and lawmakers to the highest bidder is the FREE MARKET! Why do you hate the successful?[/libertarian]

  • Pierce R. Butler

    This is capitalism for the companies and socialism for the rich…

    Capitalism for the proles and what’s left of the middle class, that is to say.

    The price will be paid by the coastal towns, wildlife and wetlands. According to a fine piece in the latest Washington Spectator (no link because their website is currently down for upkeep), most of the barrier islands and protective marshes and groves are gone, municipalities such as Lafitte, Golden Meadow, Cocodrie, Montegut, Leeville, Grand Isle, Port Fourchon, and Pointe-au-Chien won’t last long, and the port facilities on which the oil industry (and much of US agriculture) depends will be highly vulnerable to storms, and the levees protecting suburban New Orleans will start to crumble – all because oil drillers have not filled in the many “temporary” canals their contracts require them to close after use.

    … with taxpayers picking up the cost of all the negative externalities.

    No – with the damage continuing to compound as Washington obfuscates and procrastinates, and taxpayers covering the bare minimum to deal inadequately with the loss of a major fishing industry and a horde of environmental refugees. The costs will be “picked up” by all the people and ecosystems of south Louisiana (and all the Gulf Coast).

    Corrupt (as in, over $1M in oil industry “contributions”), deliberately ignorant, neglectful, law-breaking and disastrous – Bobby Jindal is truly a man of the 21st century.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    raven @ # 8 – got a link for that article?

  • mikeym

    Harry Shearer did an hour on this a few months ago. From what I remember the lawsuits were to force the oil companies to do only the repairs they agreed to do in their contracts. Jindal’s action essentially allows them to abrogate their contracts.

  • raven

    Louisiana coast faces highest rate of sea-level rise worldwide

    thelensnola. org/…/new-research-louisiana-coast-faces-highest-rate-of-sea…

    Feb 21, 2013 – New research: Louisiana coast faces highest rate of sea-level rise … rate faster than any place else we are seeing in the world for such a large …

    From the west coast, it looks like Jindal has been a disaster for Louisiana.

    He gutted their educational system which wasn’t much to begin with. And did nothing to fix the coastal environment which is the only thing between lots of people and the ocean.

  • briandavis

    Louisiana needs to increase its elevation. The rest of the country needs landfill space for its trash. Sounds like a free market win-win.

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @eric, #4:

    Doesn’t this violate the constitution’s prohibition against ex-post-facto laws? You can’t pass a law today to punish or prevent some action done yesterday.

    No.

    1) preventing an action done yesterday is impossible, so I don’t know what you’re on about there.

    2) this is not a punishment.

    3) That applies only to crimes

    4) legal changes that benefit a defendant in a criminal matter are considered “mollifying” and not punishing, and are considered retrospective, not retroactive.

  • parasiteboy

    I was skeptical about the chances of winning this lawsuit when I first read the post, knowing that barrier islands constantly move and that the some of wetlands around New Orleans are disappearing because they are not replenished by the Mississippi river sediments anymore(Mississippi River Delta).

    But after reading more about it I think they would win.

    The levee authority suit relies on three legal arguments, Barry said:

    Most of the damaging oil, gas and pipeline activities were conducted under federal and state permits that “explicitly require the operators to maintain and restore the canals they dredged,” Barry said. He said the oil and gas industry dredged more than 10,000 miles of canals through the state’s wetlands, which provided pathways for salt water from the Gulf of Mexico to kill fresh and brackish water marshes.

    The federal Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 prohibits actions that impair the effectiveness of flood protection levees. “Clearly, increasing storm surge makes a levee less effective,” Barry said.

    A tenet of civil law called “servitude of drainage” prohibits someone taking actions on property that they own or control that sends more water onto someone else’s property. Again, Barry said, the oil and gas projects clearly focus increased storm surge onto the levee system.

    John Barry on SLFPAE lawsuit against energy companies South Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East Vice President John Barry explains the lawsuit filed by the authority against 97 oil companies, seeking to have them repair damage to wetlands and compensate the authority for areas that can’t be repaired.

    There’s also a nice map in the article that shows some of of the pipelines through the marshes south and east of New Orleans

  • D. C. Sessions

    In all fairness, the only way to save the Delta is to break down the levees pretty much everywhere and let the Mississippi do what Nature leads it to do: meander all over the place, fanning out to countless bayous that deposit the silt coming down from Montana, Arkansas, etc. across thousands of square miles of marshland to replace the mud that’s constantly oozing out from under the Delta — instead of shooting it at high speed out into the Gulf, ruining the habitat for shrimp, fish, etc.

    Jindal is really not doing any real harm. At most he’s cashing in while there’s a Delta country to exploit.

  • parasiteboy

    D. C. Sessions@18

    Although I agree that the best way to preserve the long-term health of the Mississippi River Delta would be to decrease it’s channelization.

    The fact is, the river has not been channelized very long and the current course of the river through the delta was it’s natural course until 88 or so years ago (see my first link @17 there are also some good maps).

    Jindal is really not doing any real harm.

    Except he is going to allow the loss of wetlands to occur at a faster rate by not holding the gas and oil companies responsible for their dredging activities. If, as I blockquoted @17, the dredging has caused saltwater intrusion into fresh and brackish water marshes then the plants that actually hold the sediment together will die and the rate of erosion will increase dramatically.

    You can have all the sediment you want, but without plants you wouldn’t have a coastal marsh.

  • parasiteboy

    D. C. Sessions@18

    Also the major contribution that the Mississippi River makes to the degradation of the Gulf of Mexico isn’t the sediment load, it’s the eutrophication from land use and fertilization in the Mississippi River drainage.

    This causes the hypoxic and anoxic conditions seen in the gulf in the summertime. Each year the size of these areas are growing. Then you also have algal blooms that can contribute to the decrease in oxygen I just spoke about, but can also affect the food webs.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    parasiteboy “Except he is going to allow the loss of wetlands to occur at a faster rate by not holding the gas and oil companies responsible for their dredging activities.”

    Now, look, they can self police. It’s in their best interest to, because if they do so-called “bad” things, then the Invisible Hand of the Free Market will punish them, by not buying their gas on the Free Market. This is why Exxon no longer exists.

    And, sure, there may be some failures of the Free Market to punish so-called “consistently bad” companies, but along with self policing, if we deregulate them enough, they can self punish, too.

     

    parasiteboy “…sediment load…”

    Band name!

     

    “…hypoxic and anoxic…”

    The guys who founded Rome?

  • carbonfox

    I was so outraged by the baldfaced greed, heartlessness, and slap to the faces of thousands of Louisiana residents displaced by the BP spill. And this days after the asshole in the governor’s mansion here in NC signed a law making it misdemeanor (originally a felony, dropped after public outcry) for anybody, including emergency workers, to reveal what chemicals are used in fracking. The refrain is always the same. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Somehow, in the wingnut mind, not letting people protect themselves creates jobs.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    carbonfox, corporations are people too, my friend.