It's easy to buy the argument that Senate Bill 469 — which after a vote Wednesday by the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee is one step close to final passage — is indicative of everything that’s wrong with the Louisiana Legislature, namely that lawmakers with clear-cut conflicts of interest are allowed to vote on measures to their personal benefit.
SB 469, the legislation sponsored by Sens. Robert Adley and Bret Allain, seeks to kill the New Orleans levee board’s lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies for damaging Louisiana’s coastline.
|Of the three Acadiana delegates who sit on the House Natural Resources and Environment committee, only Reps. Jack Montoucet, left, and Stephen Ortego voted against SB 469, which seeks to retroactively kill the lawsuit filed by a New Orleans levee board against the oil and gas industry over decades of coastal destruction.|
This bill, which passed in a 13-6 vote of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, would retroactively ban certain authorities, like the levee board, from filing suit against the oil and gas industry, and would make the Department of Natural Resources the authority responsible for holding the industry accountable.
For the most part — those arguing against the bill say — that’s a joke. DNR doesn’t even think the industry is responsible for Louisiana’s coastal erosion — a claim easily refutable by countless studies and admissions from the industry itself, which actually takes credit for about one-third of the problem.
Adding fuel to the fire of those who support the levee board having its day in court (including this media group) is that Adley is an oil man and a member of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, and so too is the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Gordon Dove, who voted in favor of SB 469.
The GreenARMY’s Gen. Russel Honoré responded to Wednesday’s vote in a Facebook post, commenting, “Louisiana[‘s] Strong Ethics Law ... does not require legislature to recuse themselves from conflict of interest legislation ... must be nice to pass laws that advance your business.”
Likewise, if this bill were to have followed the proper channels, it wouldn’t have even gone before the Natural Resources Committee, but rather would have been addressed by the Civil Law and Procedure committee. The reason it didn’t is easy: Because the bill would have failed.
At least one bright note is that of the three Acadiana delegates who sit on the Natural Resources Committee — we expected Rep. Stuart Bishop to stand behind the industry — two voted against SB 469. Those Acadiana delegates are Reps. Jack Montoucet and Stephen Ortego.
Read more on SB 469 here.