(The Daily Advertiser) – Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday said that the state needs to play an active role in restoring Louisiana’s coast, a role that demands the state recover appropriate damages from the oil and gas industry.
Citing a government plan, Edwards said the current cost of fixing the coast is $50 billion, although he conceded it “would be much more than that” by the time it’s done.
“No one says that’s what the oil and gas industry owes,” Edwards said, but, he added, “the industry should pay whatever is their fault.”
Edwards said when he took office, three parishes had already filed suit against the oil and gas industry. Since then, Vermilion Parish has also filed suit claiming damages done to the coast by oil and gas exploration and production.
Edwards said he was always willing to sit with industry leaders to discuss damages, but if those talks were unsuccessful, litigation would be pursued.
He said that moving forward with litigation, “has merit; if Louisiana is asking Congress for more money then the state, too, must do its part.”
Edwards dismissed complaints by Attorney General Jeff Landry who has said the governor is trying to enrich his friends among the trial lawyers.
As evidence, Edwards noted his office’s contract for this suit pays private representation at $225 an hour, less than half of what state government allows for such representation.