The state has asked the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a $750,000 award to a whistleblower who said he was punished for reporting a state-funded dredging project was used to benefit oil and gas development.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources filed the appeal on Friday.

Dan S. Collins, a Baton Rouge landman, was under contract to the agency as a consultant when he reported his concerns about the Bayou Postillion dredging project in Iberia Parish. The water quality improvement project was actually a million-dollar, state-funded oil and gas access canal project that benefitted a family of landowners along the bayou, Collins said. After the issue was brought to light, Collins said the department blocked his firm from doing any more work for the agency.

Both the landowners and Natural Resources have denied the allegations. Agency officials have said the department complied with the state procurement law for contracts, as well as following all environmental regulations for the dredging project.

In December, a 19th Judicial District jury awarded Collins $250,000 for loss of earnings and/or anticipated earnings. Under the state’s environmental whistleblower law, Collins is entitled to triple the award, plus attorney’s fees and costs.

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