Lawsuit Abuse is Not a Solution for Louisiana’s Coast
In Louisiana, we have a knack for running job creators off to our neighboring states. One of the clearest examples of pushing businesses out of Louisiana is the slew of frivolous lawsuits levied against oil and gas companies that have caused countless jobs and opportunities to leave our state. A 2019 study found that two years after the lawsuits were first launched, 2,000 jobs were lost directly attributable to the impact of the litigation risk. Proponents of the lawsuits claim the lawsuits will help bring resources to rebuild Louisiana’s coastline. In reality, these lawsuits and the proposed Freeport-McMoRan settlement currently on the table stifle job creation while doing little to nothing for the coast.
The latest development in the coastal lawsuits is the proposed Freeport-McMoRan settlement which proponents of the lawsuits claim would generate $100 million for coastal restoration through the sale of environmental credits. That may sound like a positive development, however, the money generated would be controlled by a new unelected bureaucracy called the Coastal Zone Recovery Authority (CZRA) which has broad power to direct funds to non-restoration-related projects. The proposed settlement leaves a large percentage of the dollars in unrestricted slush funds for politicians to spend on efforts that have nothing to do with restoring the coast.
This isn’t the first time one of these crediting schemes has been attempted. A Pelican Institute report released earlier this year showed that most of the time these schemes are attempted, they wind up failing to deliver on their promised goals. Unsurprisingly, the dollars are often spent doing anything other than their spoken purpose. Whether not generating the money promised or not actually accomplishing the stated environmental goal, these schemes often fail because they are overly complex and easily corruptible. The coastal scheme set up by the proposed Freeport-McMoRan settlement would fare no different than previous attempts in other states.
Most Louisianans agree that our coastline is a vital resource that needs to be protected, but this proposed settlement should scare proponents and opponents of the coastal lawsuits alike. Not only does the proposed settlement continue to push jobs and opportunities out of our state, but it also creates a slush fund that can be used on a wide variety of non-coastal restoration projects. If the Pelican State wants to regain a competitive edge and bring jobs back home for Louisiana families, it’s critical that these frivolous lawsuits, including the proposed Freeport-McMoRan settlement, be rejected.