Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is persisting in his attempt to convince parishes throughout Louisiana to join a suit against the oil and gas industry for what he claims is their role in damaging the state’s wetlands. The push to unify Louisiana parishes in their suit against the oil and gas industry has been met with some resistance, both because of the lawsuit’s legitimacy and the motives driving it.
The governor has faced criticism for his choice of attorneys – private lawyers who are set to receive a huge payday if they win the case against the oil and gas industry. These lawyers will receive a percentage of any winnings, whereas state lawyers on the case are only being paid for the hours they work. Many critics of the lawsuit point to this huge payday as the sole reason for the lawsuit’s existence.
Edwards has also been under fire for over-zealously calling on parishes to join the mounting lawsuits against the oil industry. Edwards sent a letter to parish presidents asking them to hire private lawyers and join the crusade to sue big oil. He also stated that the state would take legal action on the behalf of parishes who choose not to participate in the suit. However, not all parishes were open to the idea.
An article from The Daily Iberian praises the Iberia Parish Council for unanimously voting not to be included in the suit. A resolution from the council requests that the state government not intervene and pursue a legal case on behalf on the Iberia Parish. Iberia, however, was not the only parish to mount such a request.
Parish presidents from Lafourche and Terrebonne met with the governor to share their concerns regarding the suit and their lack of a desire to join it, the Louisiana Record reports. A letter co-authored by the parish presidents states: “I kindly ask you to please realize the effect a lawsuit such as this will have on our local economy. A suit such as this at this time will jeopardize hundreds of new jobs.” Perhaps after hearing these parishes’ legitimate concerns the governor will reexamine his decision to automatically include all parishes in the suit.