Environmental groups slammed "Million Dollar Man" Gov. Bobby Jindal last week for what they call his "aggressive stance" against the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) lawsuit targeting 97 oil and gas companies for their role in wetlands loss. The groups — Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Global Green, League of Women Voters, Levees.org, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Sierra Club and Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans — held a press conference at which they showed a list of more than $1 million in campaign contributions that Jindal received from oil and gas companies. The list included contributors to his gubernatorial campaigns beginning in 2003, but not his failed 2004 Congressional bid.
It's no secret that the oil and gas industry — among the state's largest — heavily backs Louisiana politicos of both parties. The issue here, according to the groups, is their contention that Jindal's contributions fuel his opposition to the lawsuit.
The 230 contributions to Jindal that the group listed averaged $4,000 each, beginning in 2003, according to campaign filings with the state Board of Ethics. But what the group didn't show: Based on filings with the Federal Election Commission, in his 2004 campaign for Louisiana's First Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Jindal received thousands of dollars from oil and gas companies, including $16,000 from Magnum Producing and $13,000 from Oil & Gas Rental Services Inc. His contributions from oil and gas during his congressional tenure total $251,000. (Oil and gas comes in second only to the health industry, which contributed $324,794 to his campaigns.)
In an Aug. 28 press release, Jindal acknowledged the immediacy of wetlands restoration and called for the "swift release" of RESTORE Act funds earmarked for restoration projects — and protecting oil and gas production.
Jindal also called on BP to "stop spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their public relations campaign" in the wake of the oil disaster and instead release its billions of dollars in Clean Water Act liabilities. — ALEX WOODWARD