On February 13, a federal judge threw out the lawsuit the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East (SLFPA) brought against 90 oil and gas companies, ruling the SLFPA does not have the right to bring suit against them, and had failed to make a valid claim under law. Luckily, the fight is not over. The SLFPA has decided to appeal the judge’s ruling to the U.S. 5th Court of Appeals.
The suit is meant to hold the industry accountable for decades of drilling and dredging, which helped destroy the coastal marshes that shield the region from floods. The SLFPA wants the oil and gas companies to either fix the wetlands, or pay to have them restored and/or strengthen levees. Holding these companies accountable for their failure to restore the wetlands they’ve impacted is crucial to our protection from hurricanes. Ultimately, if the oil and gas industry doesn’t come to the table to pay to fix the damage that it’s done, then Louisiana’s taxpayers will be left holding the bill.
Louisiana is losing a football field-size of land per hour. Nathaniel Rich of the New York Times Magazine writes, to apply the same land-loss to New York City, Central Park would disappear in a month and Manhattan in a year and a half. Why is Rich's Manhattan analogy important to mention? More people have visited Manhattan than southeast Louisiana and The Big Apple is depicted on television and the big screen daily. For people outside of our immediate area, imagining a football-field size of land per hour is almost inconceivable, but imagining some place like Central Park disappearing in a month makes the reality more vivid.
The judge’s ruling will not be the final word and we will continue to keep you informed of any updates to this important issue facing southeast Louisiana.
For more, read my previous blog here.
Bryan Clarey is a Media and Communications Intern with GRN.