A curious, contradictory and vitriolic series of statements and public pronouncements today highlight the continuing war of words between state officials and the leaders of the local Flood Protection Authority, which is suing 97 oil and gas companies for damage done to wetlands.

A key member of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, which filed the suit, has made several public statements, including an opinion piece in The Lens, about what state officials told him and the lead attorney.

This morning, the state Attorney General’s Office fired off a press release rebutting authority Vice President John Barry’s remarks. And then Gov. Bobby Jindal’s coastal-restoration chief chimed in via social media.

The play-by-play:

  1.  The state Attorney General’s Office issued a press release entitled “AG’s Office Rebukes John Barry in Levee Board Lawsuit.”  The rebuke was for statements by Barry that the AG’s office had told the flood authority’s attorney, Gladstone Jones, that the oil and gas law suit “did not negatively impact the state’s efforts to collect damages from B.P. in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation.” The AG’s office said that never happened. However, the release did not say the office thinks the flood authority suit is interfering with the state’s case against BP.
  2.  Garret Graves, head of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and the most vocal and intense critic of the lawsuit, then began a series of tweets  alleging, among other things, that Jones had lied to his clients. In a not-so-subtle dig at Jones, Graves drops in the hashtag “I made that shit up.”
  3. The Lens contacted the Attorney General’s Office asking for a response to the most important question at issue: Does it think the flood authority’s lawsuit is interfering with the state’s case against BP? The email response said: “We will not be able to comment further at this time.”
  4. The Lens also contacted Barry and Jones. Jones maintained that Allan Kanner, the assistant state Attorney General he spoke with, told him the flood authority’s lawsuit would have no affect on the state’s action against BP. “Mr. Kanner  and I know what we discussed, and my recollection is very different than his,” Jones said. He added,  “Also no one in the Attorney General’s office at any time has told us they think the flood authority lawsuit is interfering or hurting the state in its litigation against BP.” Barry said he only repeated what Jones told him.

When all was said (or not said) and done the public knows the following:

Either Jones or Kanner is misremembering what was said in their conversation, but the AG’s office also is not saying whether the flood-authority’s lawsuit is hurting the BP litigation.

So, as has been happening since this suit was filed, nothing has changed.

Bob Marshall

From 2013 to 2017, Bob Marshall covered environmental issues for The Lens, with a special focus on coastal restoration and wetlands. While at The Times-Picayune, his work chronicling the people, stories...