Live blog: Lawyers suing oil & gas industry defend suit before state coastal authority

The Lens will live-blog what could be a wetlands’ version of “High Noon” at Wednesday’s meeting of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

Attorneys for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East say they have accepted an invitation from coastal chief Garret Graves to present their client’s case for its controversial lawsuit against oil and gas companies for coastal land loss – which Graves strongly opposes.

The official agenda for the meeting does not show an appearance by the attorneys, but rather by Flood Protection Authority commissioner Stephen Estopinal. Graves is listed to speak on the same agenda item, as is The Lens’ opinion columnist Mark Moseley, who has written about the issue.

The agenda also says the coastal authority will vote on a resolution regarding the “financial implication” of the lawsuit.

Gladstone Jones, lead attorney on the suit, said Tuesday that his team planned to make a presentation. Graves did not respond to an email request to confirm that they had been invited.

Graves has opposed the suit since it was filed in August. At various public meetings and in interviews, he has claimed that:

  • The Flood Protection Authority does not have standing to file a suit.

  • Its contract with outside attorneys is illegal.

  • The contribution to wetlands loss by the oil and gas industry is minor compared to the damage done by levees built on the Mississippi River by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

  • The suit would interfere with his office’s own plans for seeking compensation for oil and gas industry damage, although he hasn’t disclosed what those plans are.

The meeting, which will be held in Baton Rouge, starts at 9:30 a.m. The discussion of the lawsuit is the 13th of 19 agenda items.

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Live blog

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About 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 and issues of Louisiana’s wetlands was recognized with two Pulitzer Prizes and other awards. In 2012 Marshall was a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Loyola University School of Communications Den of Distinction.

  • Sandy Rosenthal

    When Graves says the SLFPAE isn’t responsible for flood protection, he is being technical. Technical in that the CPRA is the legal local sponsor. But as Graves firmly asserted last year, the Authority and the CPRA work as one via contract.

  • Chris McLindon

    Great work Bob, this is very interesting

  • Sandy Rosenthal

    Thank you Bob! Lots of same of stuff, but some new stuff, too. Thank you for live blogging about this important cause.

  • TraveLAr

    The technical complaints from Graves and allies are not much. Attorney contract hard to understand, who had authority, etc., none of it fatal to the lawsuit.

    Their basic argument seems to be:

    1) Oil companies are our friends, and

    2) They didn’t do as much damage as the state and the corps did.

    The problem with that theory is, you can’t sue the corps. They have sovereign immunity. And suing the state is just stupid, rather, just go to the legislature and ask for the money you need. They have to approve paying judgments anyway.

    Since the legislature is broke, and the corps is following its own path, that leaves the portion of the damage done by our friends the oil companies to get funding for restoration. Being our friends and like, sponsors of jazz festivals and such, oil will probably pay their share soon, because when you ask, they step right up. Happy happy.

  • KC King

    Graves and the CPRA have told the at-risk residents of Louisiana that he will not enforce legal requirements for restoration. Instead, he says, the citizens of Louisiana will have to pay for it themselves or suffer the safety conseqences. That is wrong and irresponsible.

    I sympathize with the Levee board in holding their efforts close. Louisiana politicians are known to act entirely with the interest of oil. The independence they exhibited is one the root causes of the new Levee board structure. It is obvious that the authority should have been restructured as well.

    Great job of intensive coverage.

  • TimGNO

    Y’all realize Graves is getting rich (even if just through inheritance from his father’s contracting company) off all this business, no matter what happens. Right? Souls sell for cheap around here.