Mary Tutwiler

Hebert versus Doerle, round two

by Mary Tutwiler

Another year, another showdown between Iberia Parish state Sen. Troy Hebert and garbage magnate Gordon Doerle. For the second year in a row, Hebert has filed a bill in the Legislature, SB 317, attempting to shut down Doerle’s landfill, which lies directly at the foot of the Acadiana Regional Airport runway. Hebert says the landfill is detrimental to the operations of the airport.

“Nobody has yet to explain to me why anything has changed on why a landfill being located at the end of a runway is OK now when there were so many questions on safety and marketability,” Hebert tells the Daily Iberian. “One thing that’s changed is a lot of people have their hands tied and their mouths taped because of the agreements, [a lawsuit brought by Iberia Parish Government against Doerle was settled last year] but mine’s not and I’ll continue to fight for the airport.”

Doerle contends it’s personal, because he supported Hebert’s opponent, Jeff Landry, in the 2007 Senate race. “Either someone’s pushing his buttons or it’s back to a personal vendetta,” he told the Daily Iberian.

Last year, Hebert’s bill was signed into law, only to be overturned by the courts, which ruled it  unconstitutional.

The struggle to shut down Doerle’s operation, detailed in an Independent Weekly cover story, has been going on in one form or another since the early 1990s. Doerle has had to fend off lawsuits filed by citizens groups and Iberia Parish Government and protests by the ARA and the Federal Aviation Administration. Every time he has prevailed.

Should the bill pass, Doerle says he will file lawsuits against the state, the state Department of Environmental Quality, the parish and the airport. Threats of litigation are par for the course as well. “I’ve been there for 14 years,” Doerle told The Ind last year, “and it’s never been a problem before... Now if they lose their case, they’ll probably be coming to me and say, 'Look, we need you to close it in.’ And I’m going to tell them to go to hell.”