Fifth Circuit ruling could send coastal litigation to federal court

Oil companies fighting dozens of lawsuits that blame drilling for decades of coastal erosion and wetland loss in Louisiana are pleased with a new appeals court ruling that could lead to some of the cases being heard in federal court, reports The Daily Comet.

The oil companies want all 42 lawsuits brought by six coastal parishes to be tried in federal court, a request that federal district judges had rejected. On Aug. 5, however, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the judges should reexamine whether cases from two parishes that involved federally overseen oil and gas operations during World War II should be heard in federal court.

Melissa Landry, spokesperson for legal teams representing BP America Production Company, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corporation and Shell, said in an email that the teams welcome the new ruling. While the parishes say the oil companies should be held responsible for wetlands loss, the companies say the suits are meritless.

Mike Moncla, president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, says in a written statement that the recent ruling was a major victory for industry. “These frivolous lawsuits have hurt jobs, bankrupted marine service companies and operators, and have decimated the state‚Äôs tax revenue it receives from energy production,” Moncla says. Read the full story.