It’ll be another week before Rep. Joel Robideaux’s House Bill 862 — an attempt at making it more cumbersome for parish governments to sue oil and gas companies — undergoes its first round of debate.

robideaux  
Rep. Joel Robideaux  

The bill was originally slated to go before the House Civil Law & Procedure Committee on Tuesday but was pulled from the agenda late Monday.

According to Rep. Nancy Landry, a Lafayette Republican who sits on the Civil Law & Procedure Committee, the bill has been tentatively rescheduled for next week, possibly Monday. “I think his bill will need to be heard on a day with fewer items on the agenda,” writes Landry in a text message sent Tuesday morning.

Robideaux’s legislation is a response to lawsuits filed by the Terrebonne and Jefferson parish governments against oil and gas companies for violating state permits by dredging coastal wetlands and not restoring them back to their original condition.

The bill would act retroactively, and require parish governments to first seek approval from the state Department of Natural Resources before filing suit against the industry. The bill would also impact trial attorneys, stripping their incentive to take on such cases as any money awarded from a successful suit would go to the state’s Coastal Resource Trust Fund, designed for coastal restoration efforts.

Robideaux’s decision to side with the industry — the bill is a joint effort with the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association — has spawned protest from the likes of John Barry and local members of the Green Army as witnessed last week outside the representative’s Lafayette office.

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