Louisiana Governor Appeals ‘Big Oil’ Suit to State High Court

January 13, 2015

The fight over whether oil companies may be sued over damage to Louisiana’s coastal marshes has been appealed to the state’s high court.

The Times-Picayune reports Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of a law passed to block a levee authority’s wetlands damages lawsuit against more than 80 oil, gas and pipeline companies.

The appeal to the Supreme Court was filed on Jan. 6 and challenges a Dec. 3 judgment by state District Court Judge Janice Clark that declared the law unconstitutional.

The suit is now being fought in federal court in New Orleans, after the companies successfully argued that the issues it addresses are federal in nature.

Clark, in her December ruling, found that the Louisiana law passed to block the lawsuit didn’t apply to the levee authority because it was “an independent political subdivision and not a state agency.”

She also ruled that the law violates the state Constitution’s “public trust doctrine” by blocking levee authority’s ability to “redress issues with coastal restoration particularly insofar as those are related to hurricane protections.”

Clark also found the law violated the Constitution’s restrictions on the Legislature’s handling of “special laws” dealing with local issues, because its language was not properly advertised in advance of the legislative session.

Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown has heard arguments on whether to dismiss the suit, including whether the Louisiana law to block the suit applies, but has not issued a ruling.

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