While Gov. Bobby Jindal continues to flit around the country like a hummingbird on amphetamines, he apparently can be secure in the knowledge that his lackeys in the Louisiana Legislature will have his back in protecting the 97 oil companies that have done so much damage to Louisiana’s coastline and marshlands.
And at least one legislator has been cited for illegal dumping in another state even as he votes to ensure the oil companies may continue to destroy our wetlands with impunity.
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s (SFLPA-E) filed its landmark lawsuit nearly a year ago and the politicians who feed on the mother’s milk called oil and gas immediately closed ranks behind the companies that have destroyed the marshes and in so doing, left the entire Louisiana coastline, from Buras to Lake Charles—and New Orleans—vulnerable to more tragic hurricane destruction like that inflicted by 2005’s Katrina and Rita.
Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, who has benefitted from a minimum of $70,500 in oil and gas contributions and armed with predictable righteous indignation, came to the rescue like the Lone Ranger, complete with the silver bullets of anti-lawsuit legislation. He was followed in quick succession by a flood of similar bills from other shameless oil money-dependent lawmakers—the protectors of Louisiana’s citizenry from the bad old lawsuits and greedy lawyers, all following the lead of Jindal who condemned the litigation as if it were an attack on motherhood itself.
One of those bills, SB 469, by Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, was authored by our old friend Jimmy Faircloth. Allain was recipient of at least $6,800 in oil money, his campaign records show. The bill, co-sponsored by Adley, zipped through the Senate by a 24-13 margin with two absentees.
SB 469 “provides that no state or local governmental entity may have, nor may pursue, any right or cause of action arising from any activity subject to permitting under present law or certain federal statutes in the coastal area, or arising from or related in any use as defined by present law, regardless of the date such use or activity occurred.”
In plain English, which most of the great unwashed employ in our everyday communications, the bill simply prohibits any entity like SFLPA-E from attempting to hold oil companies accountable through litigation for the destruction they have unleashed with careless abandon on our coastline and marshlands.
But here’s the real kicker: The bill was amended by the House Committee on Natural Resources to make that prohibition retroactive, thus in effect, killing the SFLPA-E attempt to hold the companies legally responsible for cleaning up the mess they created. As the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live was fond of saying, “How convenient.”
How’s that for giving a kid your credit card in a toy store?
So, what makes the committee vote on the amendment so different from any other backroom deal by lawmakers to protect not their constituents but the ones who bankroll their election campaigns?
For starters, we have the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, one Gordon Dove (R-Houma), who voted in favor of the amendment.
(CLICK TO VIEW IMAGE)
Dove, who has been the recipient of at least $10,500 in oil and gas campaign money since 2005, just happens to own a trucking company that was cited last month for dumping radioactive waste in the state of Montana.
Dual Trucking and Transport of Houma has been ordered by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to cease all operations near the Bakken community of Bainville after it was determined that the company was believed to have illegally dumped radioactive oilfield waste in an Eastern Montana landfill over a two-year period.
The Montana Secretary of State listed Dove and Tony Alford of Houma, president of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District Board, as principals in the Montana trucking company. Another Montana company, KJK Trucking, lists Dove’s daughter, Jackie Elizabeth Dove (Sye), as its registered agent.
The Montana DEQ said the waste site is only a couple hundred yards upwind from a housing development and is located in a sandy-soiled region where the water table is sufficient high to produce wetlands.
That sounds vaguely familiar. Oh, wait. It was only five months ago that Plaquemine Parish accused BP and Chevron in a federal lawsuit of dumping toxic waste—some of it radioactive—from their drilling operations into the parish’s coastal waters.
Dual was issued a warning nearly two years ago, in September of 2012, to cease operations until it was licensed by DEQ’s Solid Waste Program and the company did begin the permit process but subsequently refused the state’s requests for additional information, saying it was no longer processing oilfield waste and did not require a permit.
But in April of this year, DEQ again inspected the site and found that Dual was still hauling the oilfield waste without a permit.
The Montana regulatory action arose from growing reports of illegally disposed of waste from the Bakken shale oilfield in nearby North Dakota. Garbage bags full of the oilfield sock filters were also discovered in an abandoned North Dakota gas station and on a flatbed trailer near a landfill in that state. Neither of the North Dakota sites has been tied to Dove’s trucking company.
The citation issued to the chairman of the Louisiana Committee on Natural Resources by the State of Montana apparently has no relevance when it comes to the all-important duty of our elected officials to protect the very ones who are destroying our coastline.
But it does raise another important issue.
Gordon Dove is merely symptomatic of a much larger problem in Louisiana and that is one of trust.
For our part, we find it impossible to place any degree of confidence in those who would go against the best interests of our state in favor of prostituting themselves to political benefactors while at the same time flaunting environmental laws in another state and in effect, flipping off the citizens of both states.
The Louisiana official motto “Union, Justice and Confidence” has become a cruel hoax perpetrated on the citizens of Louisiana and Bobby Jindal and Gordon Dove are right out front as the primary proponents. There is no justice nor is there confidence. There is, of course, ample evidence of the unholy union between the big oil donors and those who took oaths to protect the interests of this state.
Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D-Elm Grove) made two important points during an appearance on the Jim Engster Show on Louisiana Public Radio several months ago:
- As a member of the legislature, he supported former Republican Gov. Dave Treen’s unsuccessful efforts to pass the Coastal Wetlands Environmental Levy (CWEL)—a tax on the transportation of oil and gas through the state’s coastal wetlands;
- If someone drives his car through your fence, destroys your lawn and a storage building, you would justifiably expect that person or his insurance company to pay for those damages.
But apparently that’s just not the case in Louisiana.
The amended version of SB 469 is scheduled for floor debate in the full House tomorrow (May 29). If you wish to email your legislator, you don’t have much time.
Here are the links to both the House and Senate:
(Click on legislator’s name to access email address and House or Senate phone number.)
Next from LouisianaVoice: a complete list of oil and gas company contributions to all members of the House Committee on Natural Resources and the full Senate.