Gov. Jindal explains involvement in Sempra land dispute

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Governor Bobby Jindal says the involvement of his office in talks with the Port of lake Charles concerning Sempra LNG have nothing to do with a fundraiser Sempra held for him in California in March. Sempra would like an option to purchase the land it now leases from the Port of Lake Charles.

Sempra LNG built its facility on land owned by the Port of Lake Charles in Cameron Parish. For a couple of years now there's been a court battle that started when the West Cameron Port challenged the Lake Charles' Port's right to develop port facilities in its jurisdiction.

In June the governor's office became involved-- and some question whether the governor was trying to help Sempra after a political fund raiser in California. Responds Governor Jindal, "First of all those numbers are absolutely not true."  Reporter: "If it wasn't $175,000 raised at the Sempra fund raiser, how much was it? Says Jindal, "We'll be filing our campaign disclosure reports. They'll have all that information."

We caught up with governor Jindal at a pharmacy in Lafayette where he kicked off his fight the flu campaign. The governor says his chief of staff and executive counsel have engaged in talks with officials of both ports only to protect Louisiana's business climate, Sempra's investment and jobs. "Our involvement, we've been very clear from the first day. Our only interest is in protecting jobs here in the State of Louisiana. We've made it very clear from the first day. We're not asking the board to do anything that they don't want to do. We're not asking them to sell the property or not sell the property. We're simply asking them to work with each other and with Sempra to make sure their billion dollar investment is safe in this state and that we're keeping Louisiana's as the best place in the state to create jobs."

Though Sempra has sought an option to purchase the land from the Port of lake Charles, Jindal reiterates they are not trying to pressure either port. "We have never and never would ask these entitities, these are political subdivisions of the state, to do anything that they're not comfortable with or that wouldn't be in the best interest of of the port. So all we've done, all we've done is to ask the ports to work together, to work with Sempra. The courts will have to decide the ultimate legal issues."

While some say the sale of the land to Sempra would be cause the port to lose millions of dollars of income, officials with the governor's office say additional pay outs based on LNG production would ultimately yield about the same amount of money over the term of the lease.

In a related matter, the West Cameron Port has agreed to adhere to the terms of the existing lease with Sempra if the courts ultimately decide West Cameron owns the land.   A state district judge in Cameron ruled in favor of West Cameron port on the question of who owns the land leased by Sempra, but Lake Charles is appealing to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal.   There's a hearing at 10 a.m. On Tuesday October 13th at the Third Circuit.

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