BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Landry announced Thursday he’s backing a $100 million settlement between a dozen coastal parishes and Freeport McMoRan to end litigation over damage to Louisiana’s coastal wetlands.

The Republican attorney general’s decision to sign off on a deal brought swift criticism from the oil and gas industry and some of his fellow Republicans. They worry the agreement could set a precedent affecting dozens of other pending coastal lawsuits filed by 12 coastal parishes against major oil companies.

Landry said the lawsuits are counterproductive. But he also said he has a duty as a lawyer to listen when someone moves to resolve litigation.

You can read what AG Landry had to say about the agreement via a press release sent out by his office earlier on Thursday:

 

The energy industry, which employs hundreds of thousands of our neighbors, is a crucial component to ensuring a vibrant economy and a safe environment in Louisiana,” said Attorney General Landry. “The State’s energy industry has not only been responsible for creating jobs and prosperity, but it also has contributed tax revenues critical to funding coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects.”

“While I believe these claims are best decided by a full and final adjudication, I will not interfere with a private company seeking relief from the immense uncertainty litigation injects into Louisiana’s energy industry,” continued Attorney General Landry. “Today’s resolution meets the criteria I have deemed necessary: good for Louisiana, productive for the coast, and consistent with the Coastal Master Plan; contain regulatory or credited relief for the industry; and must be final and create certainty for the industry moving forward.”

“If accepted by the Legislature, Freeport will contribute up to $100 million toward state and local projects enhancing coastal restoration and hurricane protection,” explained Attorney General Landry. “As the federal government bobs and weaves around its fair share of our coastal losses, Freeport has agreed to put funds in the hands of coastal experts overseeing Coastal Master Plan projects that protect our most vulnerable localities.”

“Even though today’s action enhances coastal restoration and brings needed finality to these claims, it does nothing to address the fundamental problems with job-killing lawsuits that make Louisiana unwelcome to business growth and that disregard the disastrous effects of federal policy,” concluded Attorney General Landry. “As I continue fighting to hold the Army Corps of Engineers accountable for the historical effects of their actions, I trust the Legislature will defend private operators who were compliant with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.”