Louisiana Attorney General Files Suit Over Widening Waterway


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal waterway has expanded well beyond boundaries set in a 1920s agreement and encroaches on state land in Louisiana's Vermilion Parish, the state Attorney General's Office said in a lawsuit filed Friday against the United States.

Attorney General Jeff Landry and Rep. Garret Graves say in a news release that the lawsuit seeks to hold the Army Corps of Engineers accountable for the Intracoastal Waterway's part in coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion.

"The failure of the Corps to maintain and preserve the (agreement) has caused thousands of acres of land along our coast to be lost," Landry said in the release.

"The bottom line is that if this were happening in California, New York, Florida or Illinois, it would have been stopped and restored decades ago," Graves said. "We cannot stand idle and allow Louisiana to be treated any differently."

The corps referred requests for comment to the U.S. Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to email and phone queries.

Gov. John Bel Edwards' office said in a news release that he will review the suit. He said neither he nor the state coastal protection office, which was headed by Graves under former Gov. Bobby Jindal, was consulted about it.

"It's unfortunate that the agency charged with developing strategies for dealing with coastal wetlands was not consulted at all," Edwards said in a news release. "While coastal restoration is a top priority of Gov. Edwards, as evidenced by the significant work we have done over the last two years to expedite projects, we will review the lawsuit once the language is provided to us and determine the best path forward for the state."

Graves and Landry are Republicans. Landry has been at odds with Edwards, a Democrat, in a number of issues since both took office in 2016.

The waterway, which roughly parallels the state's coast, is 670 feet (200 meters) wide at some points, the lawsuit says, despite a servitude limiting the width to 300 feet (90 meters).

-by AP reporter Kevin McGill


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