La. attorney general sues Army Corps of Engineers over coastal losses
BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to protect Louisiana's coastline, state Attorney General Jeff Landry charged in a federal lawsuit filed Friday.
The suit claims the Corps' mismanagement of the Intracoastal Waterway, first authorized in the 1920s, has cost Louisiana thousands of acres of land. The state provided a servitude that limited the Corps to 300 feet of land use, to build and maintain the waterway. Under federal oversight, the channel has expanded up to 900 feet wide in certain locations, Landry said.
"The decline of Louisiana's coastline over the past 50 years has been a constant issue for Louisiana," said Landry. "Our lawsuit demands that the Corps be enjoined from any further violations of its servitude and restore the damage caused by those violations."
Shortly after Landry announced his litigation, Gov. John Bel Edwards criticized the attorney general, saying he did not consult with his administration, nor with the Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority.
"It's unfortunate that the agency charged with developing strategies for dealing with coastal wetlands was not consulted at all," the governor's aides wrote in a statement Friday.
The attorney general argues that he consulted Rep. Garret Graves, the former CPRA chairman and a member of the committee that oversees the Corps.
"Garret has been a champion for coastal issues, and there is no one more knowledgeable about our coast or the problems the Corps has inflicted on our coast," Landry told BRProud.com.
Graves praised the lawsuit, suggesting the state should have taken legal action against the Corps decades ago.
"It is the right thing to do, and this enforcement is long overdue," Graves said. "Our own federal government should be protecting our rights, not treading on them."
The attorney general claimed, as the state's chief legal officer, his control over state litigation is paramount.
Landry's lawsuit and its backlash from Edwards' office marks yet another flashpoint in an embattled relationship between the state's top legal officer and its chief executive. Since both officials took office in 2016, they have wrangled over control of Medicaid contracts, workplace discrimination policies and opioid manufacturer lawsuits. State Republicans anticipate Landry will challenge Edwards, a Democrat, in the 2019 gubernatorial election.