The Good Earth is in a bad way.
NOAA has released a series of images that allow viewers to compare the land around Port Fourchon and Golden Meadow, in 1932 and 2011.
What continues to pass without mention is the role of the oil and gas industry in destroying this land. Golden Meadow is now a shallow lake, thanks to the subsidence from oil extraction. Those marshes have not eroded, but are merely sunk under the surface of the water.
Most of the land mass in the left of the map is to be permanently destroyed by enclosing it within the Morganza to the Gulf levee system, a relic design for a levee from a time when Louisiana did not recognize that subsidence was its doom. New ideas about levee design, along the "Lines of Defense" paradigm, that would allow for the restoration of these marshes, and the continuance of our coastal economy, have been dismissed.
Terrebonne, the 'good earth' was once the largest single parish in the state of Louisiana. 80% of land lost from the Terrebonne basin is due to the oil and gas industry. Since the large land companies have been sold, the land itself is owned by majors like ConocoPhilips, Apache, and Continental Land and Fur. It seems only appropriate, then, that the industry step up to restore their own land to secure their workforce against Louisiana's sinking future.
view the image overlay here.
view a time lapse of this area at this link
Scott Eustis, M.S., is GRN's Coastal Wetland Specialist