On April 18, 2017, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a State of Emergency for Coastal Louisiana. Proclamation No. 43 JBE 2017 outlines the national importance of the Louisiana coastline and many continuing threats it faces and specifically identifies alleged damage caused by the energy industry. In response to the deteriorating coastline, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority developed “Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast,” often referred to as the Coastal Master Plan. The 2017 update of that plan was unanimously approved by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and has been sent to the Louisiana Legislature for approval. The proclamation finds the Louisiana coast to be “in a state of crisis and emergency that requires immediate and urgent action and attention.”
Gov. Edwards has sent a letter to President Trump requesting that the federal government designate five important integrated coastal protection projects, including the Coastal Master Plan, for “high priority status.” He has also called on the state and federal legislatures to implement laws and regulations “expediting or creating exemptions for permitting and environmental review currently necessary to implement integrated coastal protection in coastal Louisiana.” The emergency extends for 30 days, from April 18 to May 17, 2017.
There has been speculation that Gov. Edwards issued this proclamation as a strategic step to help pursue the land loss cases filed in parishes within the Coastal Zone against various stakeholders in the oil and gas industry, including operators, lessees, and pipeline companies. It is currently unknown how this proclamation may affect the Governor’s authority in hiring outside counsel for these lawsuits or the Attorney General Landry’s position over the prosecution of these lawsuits.