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La. AG hires firm for oil spill work

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana Attorney General James ‘‘Buddy’’ Caldwell’s office has hired a Baton Rouge attorney and his Dallas-based law firm to help the state evaluate its potential Gulf oil spill claims.

Caldwell’s office announced Friday that attorney Burton LeBlanc and his firm, Baron & Budd, will work with BP PLC to ensure the company fairly compensates the state for environmental and economic damage.

The state hasn’t sued BP, but Caldwell’s office says the state will seek to recover damages under the Federal Oil Pollution Act and the Louisiana Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act.

Gov. Bobby Jindal was questioned about the hiring of the firm, which has strong Democratic ties, during an appearance in Houma.

‘‘I don’t care — to me it’s not about partisan politics,’’ Jindal said. ‘‘I don’t care if its a Democratic firm, Republican firm. The trustee agencies (such as Wildlife & Fisheries or Environmental Quality), the AG’s office looked across the country. They have found experts, they have found advocates that are the nation’s best.”

Certainly it is a positive thing that they’ve been able to identify some firms that have Louisiana roots, that have Louisiana connections, that know this coast, that know these wetlands. At the end of the day, this is abll about being aggressive about defending our coast.’’

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