AG Jim Hood plans to file lawsuit on behalf of state over Bonnet Carré Spillway
MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Attorney General Jim Hood announced his plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of the state of Mississippi against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Thursday afternoon.
Hood explained through a press conference the lawsuit is intended to hold the federal government responsible for the damage the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway has caused to Mississippi, specifically the Gulf Coast. The lawsuit has not been filed because a 60-day notice has to be given prior to filing action.
“We don’t want Louisiana or New Orleans to flood, but the Corps has some decision on when to open the spillway,” Hood said. “Mississippi doesn’t deserve to be a dumping ground.”
Hood said fishermen and those affected need some relief now, but it’s unclear when exactly a solution will happen.
“It’s a difficult challenge,” Hood described. “They’re going to drag this out for years, so I want to go ahead and get started on it now.”
Hood stated he has filed several requests before but decided to wait to file a lawsuit until after Congress took action.
Spillway Opening compared to BP Oil Spill
Throughout the conference, Hood repeatedly compared the spillway opening to the BP oil spill, saying the opening was worse than the spill.
“BP didn’t wipe out all of our oysters, but this one has,” he said.
For Chris Lyons of Biloxi Dock and Ice, this year has been worse than the 2010 BP oil spill.
“If I were to throw some numbers around, I mean, we’re close to 80% behind where we were last year at this time," Lyons said.
He said things may not get better for a long time.
“Because we didn’t catch enough shrimp to put them in the freezer to build up our inventories so that we can get ourselves through the winter, I think the worst is to come,” he said.
For now, he said he appreciates the effort by the attorney general to push for better decisions.
“I just hope they really do care enough to consider that we have a harvest down here just like the farmers do up north, and we lost our harvest," Lyons said.
Hood is not only suing for financial compensation, but he also wants a full-blown study done on the effects and impacts and also how to prevent them in the future.
“We want to make the federal government be smart about how they’re going to continue doing this," he said.
How much money?
As for how much money the lawsuit plans to sue for, Hood said there’s no definite amount yet, but the state is working with cities and counties to come up with a number, which he estimates will be similar to the BP settlement amount.
Who benefits from the lawsuit?
Hood explained that the money from the potential settlement will likely go toward individuals affected, different cities and counties and the state.
Hood concluded the conference with promising to hold the government accountable for the environmental impact and damages done.
“If we don’t fight them, who will?” he asked. “They’re going to keep doing it until we stand up to them.”
The lawsuit will be filed as the State of Mississippi versus the Corps of Engineers, but Hood said others could be added to the list of plaintiffs.
The conference was held at the Attorney General’s Office on Bayview Avenue in Biloxi.
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