Governor Bobby Jindal Vetoes Open Records Law For Government Oil Spill Response

GRAND ISLE, LA - JUNE 15: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks with workers, mainly fisherman, involved in the clean-up effort of the BP oil spill on a command post boat in Barataria Bay on June 15, 2010 off of Grand Isle, Louisiana. The BP spill has been called the largest environmental disaster in American history. U.S. government scientists have estimated that the flow rate of oil gushing out of a ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well may be as high 40,000 barrels per day. Following his fourth trip to the Gulf on Monday, President Barack Obama will address the nation in an Oval Office speech today on the situation in the Gulf. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

If we can demand 100% accountability and transparency from BP and its response to the oil spill clean up, can we not demand the same thing of government?

Jindal’s justification for keep these records a secret is silly. He’s essentially arguing that the records might disclose government incompetence in responding to the disaster.

For more than two months, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has made it clear that he considers the response of the federal government and BP to the gulf oil leak a failure on many fronts.

But elected officials in Louisiana and members of the public seeking details on how Mr. Jindal and his administration fared in their own response to the disaster are out of luck: late last week the governor vetoed an amendment to a state bill that would have made public all records from his office related to the oil spill.

The measure was proposed by Senator Robert Adley, a Republican, and easily passed the Democrat-controlled Legislature. He told the Associated Press that the veto was a “black eye” on the state. “This governor has opposed transparency for the three years he’s been in office,” he said.

In his veto letter, the governor asserted that opening the records could give BP and other companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon blowout an advantage in future litigation over damages to the state.

“Such access could impair the state’s legal position both in responding to the disaster that is unfolding and in seeking remedies for economic injury and natural resource damage,” Mr. Jindal wrote.

Obviously, BP is the culprit for the oil spill and is legally liable for damages and cleanup. But if some government action exacerbated the problem, doesn’t the public deserve to know? At the very least so that we know what not to do in the future? And also, why should BP be on the hook for any additional problems the government may have caused in its response?

Shame on Jindal.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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