Garret Graves, who chairs the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and advises Gov. Bobby Jindal on coastal issues, took to Twitter in recent days to continue his boss’s campaign to scuttle the lawsuit filed against oil and gas companies by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E). The flood authority sued 97 energy companies, seeking damages and reparations for decades of coastal land loss. Jindal and Graves were the first to take up Big Oil’s case.
Graves, tweeting as @garretgraves, blasted the flood authority’s lead counsel in the lawsuit, local environmental lawyer Glad Jones, on July 23. “For atty Gladstone Jones to say the Corps’ funding of Katrina levee repairs absolves them of coastal loss liability is ignorant,” Graves tweeted.
Later that same day, he took another shot at Jones: “Gladstone Jones is so out of his league. Has no business litigating coastal issues with such irresponsible statements.”
Actually, Jones is one of the most successful environmental lawyers in the state. He previously won the state’s largest coastal loss case, collecting more than $100 million in damages from Exxon and Noble Energy on behalf of client Bill Dore, who was oilman of the year on several occasions while serving as the founder and largest shareholder of Global Industries, a publically held oil service company located in Sulphur, La.
Jones also successfully sued Exxon on behalf of residents of the tiny town of Grand Bois in the 1990s. Since then, he has litigated environmental cases across the country. Jones’ other environmental clients include former Gov. Mike Foster, who is no friend of trial lawyers. Foster filed a legacy lawsuit for damage to his property in St. Mary Parish.
In another July 23 volley, Graves wrote of Jones: “The guy negotiated a contract where he tries to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in the name of coastal protection.” He followed that the next day with, “Find a person in New Orleans that would say the Corps is absolved of failures because they repaired the levees from Katrina-idiot!”
Asked to comment on Graves’ tweets, Jones told GAMBIT, “Mr. Graves will come around. This will be a long adventure.”
Meanwhile, a number of others in the Twitter realm weighed in.
Tweeter “crabioscar” answered Graves, “How can it possibly be the stance of cpra chair that oil companies should not pay canal repairs? Extreme cognitive dissonance.” Crabioscar later added, “For that matter, I’m sure you hold core [sic] responsible for a century of mismanagement... But not oil companies? Makes no sense.”
Former Times-Picayune city editor — and current Advocate investigations managing editor — Gordon Russell observed via Twitter, “Tweets by @garretgraves, Jindal’s coastal czar, about Levee Board’s suit against oil and gas cos are pretty fascinating.”