Terrebonne DA to probe coastal damage
Terrebonne District Attorney Joe Waitz Jr. has been appointed to aid a state agency’s investigation of possible environmental damage caused by energy companies hin the parish.
In a Jan. 28 letter, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Thomas Harris informed Waitz of his appointment, which he accepted on March 5.
Harris said he appointed Waitz in accordance with state coastal management laws that authorize “an appropriate district attorney” to perform certain actions when damage to waterways and land occurs.
“Terrebonne Parish has enjoyed beneficial partnerships with oil and gas exploration companies and shall continue to do so,” Waitz said. “But state law mandates enforcement of coastal zone permits violations. As district attorney for the 32nd Judicial District, I am bound to assist state agencies when they request help within our jurisdiction.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards, Attorney General Jeff Landry and several other parishes are currently engaged in lawsuits against multiple energy companies that either failed to apply for coastal-use permits or held them and violated their provisions, Waitz said.
Although Waitz said his appointment does not obligate the parish to file a lawsuit, it will allow the parish to “have a seat at the table if negotiations between the state, other coastal parish governments and energy companies commence.”
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