2 ‘Big Oil’ Coastal Lawsuit Defendants Settle

By KEVIN McGILL | November 3, 2014

Two of the smaller players in a New Orleans area flood board’s lawsuit against the oil industry over damage to the state’s coast have agreed to a settlement.

An attorney for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East said the settlement includes a $50,000 payment from the two Texas companies – White Oak Operating LLC and Chroma Operating Inc. A joint statement from attorneys on all sides said the terms were reasonable.

“We are pleased to have come to what all sides feel are reasonable, responsible terms,” said a joint statement from attorneys for both sides.

Gifford Briggs of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association said Friday that the settlement is insignificant compared to the potential multibillion-dollar costs to the industry. Briggs predicted the lawsuit eventually will be dismissed.

The authority, which oversees New Orleans-area levee boards, filed the lawsuit in 2013, alleging that drilling and dredging activity by more than 90 companies contributed to the loss of coastal wetlands that form a natural hurricane buffer for New Orleans. The lawsuit is pending in federal court.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and industry supporters have harshly criticized the lawsuit as an attack on a vital industry. They won approval of legislation aimed at killing the suit retroactively, but a state judge has ruled that the law aimed at outlawing such suits by state agencies does not apply to the flood board.

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