80 Oil Pipeline Companies Off The Hook For Wetlands Damage

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By Zainab Calcuttawala, Oilprice.com

Over 80 oil and gas pipeline companies will be exonerated of a lawsuit that claims damage to wetlands via the construction of canals in Louisiana after the Supreme Court decided this week not to hear the case.

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East had filed their appeal against the 5th circuit’s decision back in March. The issue regarded the venue of the suit, which, according to U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette, should have been in a federal court. The levee authority insisted the case be fought in a state court instead.

The appeals court also maintained that the agency had failed to prove that the oil and gas pipeline firms had a duty to repair damage caused by their activity in the area. State authorities had planned to win the money from the suit and use it to repair Louisiana levees in the future.

“From the outset of the case, I personally believed that the Flood Protection Authority was not the proper party to bring such a suit,” the agency’s president Joe Hassinger said. “Nonetheless, we allowed the case to proceed through legal system, as we were obligated to do by contract. The Flood Protection Authority has had its day in court. The current board has been intensely focused on its mission, and will remain so.”

The Grow Louisiana Coalition, which includes the Louisiana-Mississippi Oil & Gas Association, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, Greater New Orleans Inc., Gulf Economic Survival Team, Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, and the Offshore Marine Service Association, also claimed the suit was frivolous.

“The U.S. Supreme Court even agrees that this baseless lawsuit shouldn’t advance any further,” said coalition executive director Marc Ehrhardt. “The deep-pocketed trial lawyers driving the SLFPA-E’s suit, in the hopes of making millions more in legal fees, tried to advance this case four times and four times it was kicked out of court. They should stop wasting the courts’ time because their claims clearly have no merit.”

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