Judge dismisses Louisiana wetlands suit against big oil firms

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 13, 2015 9:02 PM

(Reuters) - A federal judge in Louisiana threw out a lawsuit Friday against more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies accused of collectively damaging the state's coastline, according to court records.

The suit was filed in 2013 by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, accused the companies of destroying the state's fragile wetlands that protect the greater New Orleans area from catastrophic flooding, such as that which occurs during hurricanes.

The suit says the companies cut at least 10,000 miles of oil and gas canals and pipelines through Louisiana coastal lands and asks that they repair the damaged environmental buffer zone.

"The product of this network is an ecosystem so seriously diseased that its complete demise is inevitable if no action is taken," the lawsuit said.

The board operates and maintains the system of levees, floodgates, seawalls and jetties that protect property and about a million residents in and around New Orleans.

Some 97 defendants in the suit included BP Plc , Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown, in a 49-page ruling, dismissed the lawsuit Friday evening.

Members of the board could not be immediately reached to comment late Friday.

The lawsuit touched off a political firestorm, with Gov. Bobby Jindal accusing the agency of overreach and saying the filing should be withdrawn.

Jindal, a Republican, said the agency had overstepped its authority by hiring trial lawyers to file the suit, apparently without permission from him or the state's attorney general.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Ken Wills)