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To Sue Or Not To Sue? Senate Candidates Answer the Question

Sue Lincoln

24 candidates are vying for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by David Vitter. Five of them took the stage last week for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisianas forum focusing on coastal issues. (WRKF is broadcasting the forum Tuesday, October 11, at 7:00 p.m.)

One of the questions asked the candidates for their stance on suing oil and gas companies over coastal damage.

We need to work with our industry partners, the oil and gas companies,” Congressman John Fleming of Minden, a Republican, responded. “I think we should talk to them about help on this. I think they’re willing to help.”

Mr. Fleming just said, ‘Maybe the oil companies ought to have a little bit to do with it’. I think that’s a good idea, said Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell – also from northwest Louisiana, but a Democrat. “Maybe we ought to ask them to fix what they torn up. Nobody sitting out there would let somebody run through your yard and tear your yard up without asking them to pay for it.”

It’s very easy for politicians to say, ‘Let’s just sue.’ But litigation is expensive, it’s costly, it’s time-consuming, and there’s no guarantees,” Attorney Caroline Fayard said. She is from New Orleans, and is also a Democrat. She added, “Exxon Valdez took 24 years. We quite simply do not have that much time.”

Republican Congressman Charles Boustany of Lafayette also disagrees with suing the oil and gas companies.

We’re not going to litigate our coast back into existence,” Boustany said. “We need real science and real solutions. And if we chase away the industry that has helped us grow this economy, we cannot solve this without revenue sharing and the other things.”

I am a warrior,” said retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, also a Republican. “The major enemy we have in this fight is the federal government. Real science has proven that the actions of the Corps of Engineers concerning the flow of the Mississippi River are responsible for the loss of our coastline.”

State Treasurer John Kennedy, another Republican candidate, had a scheduling conflict and did not participate.