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Louisiana business group says Plaquemine Parish poll reflects frivolous nature of climate suits

October 22, 2018
By Carrie Bradon
Originally Posted on The Louisiana Record

A recent survey conducted by the Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute found that a majority or residents of Plaquemines Parish are siding with the energy industry regarding the Parish Council's participation in a lawsuit against gas and oil companies that seeks restitution for damages to wetlands.

The suit accuses the companies of contributing to coastal erosion and alleges the companies are costing the state to lose its coastline everyday. While the energy industries may be contributing somewhat to the erosion, others say that there are likely many factors at play.

Residents in Plaquemines Parish, which is one of the parishes enlisted by the governor to take up the fight against the energy industry, have made their stance on the issue clear as 57 percent of voters in the parish said they oppose the lawsuit, the survey said. The survey also found that 99 percent of voters believe that the energy industry is important to the local economy.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, a group which seeks to foster an environment for economic growth by promoting free enterprise and represents the general interests of the business community, spoke on the issue and the parish residents' response.

"Plaquemines residents realize these lawsuits are not a solution to coastal issues, just a means for trial lawyers to line their pockets while a vital industry is driven away," Stephen Waguespack, president and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, told the Louisiana Record.

Many residents in the parish, 84 percent, said they believe the energy industry is important to their own family's quality of life. "The oil and gas industry provides more than 1,500 jobs in Plaquemines Parish with a $264 million payroll, paying $20 million annually in parish property taxes," the survey said.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, as well as other associations in Louisiana, believes that the lawsuit is aimed more toward ending in a settlement rather than protecting the business environment.