The Governor and Louisiana Lawyers Plot an Energy Shakedown

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards was elected in 2015 with substantial support from trial lawyers, and he’s now repaying them in kind. The former minority leader of the state’s House of Representatives is effectively extorting oil and gas companies to backfill the budget while engineering what could be a handsome payday for his friends at a politically connected law firm.

Mr. Edward s wasted no time shaking down Louisiana’s energy industry. Shortly after taking office in January 2016, he met with oil and gas companies and issued an ultimatum: Fork over billions of dollars to help restore Louisiana’s eroding coastline or brave a drawn-out legal battle.

“We are struggling to pay for our state’s Master Plan to restore the coast,” the governor wrote in a May 19 letter to the presidents of Louisiana’s two largest oil and gas trade associations, which between them represent more than 100 local companies. “I intend to be involved in all facets of the state’s coastal restoration efforts—including those efforts to secure funding for the Master Plan. . . . At this point, we have two choices—work together toward an amicable solution or spend years in litigation. There should be no doubt that it is in the best interests of Louisiana and the industry to choose the former option”…

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