Friday, October 11, 2013

Louisiana Agency Sues Dozens of Energy Companies for Damage to Wetlands

JOHN SCHWARTZ (July 24, 2013) of the New York Times had an important report on the lawsuit by Louisiana against a number of of energy companies. Go here for the full article.

(c) 2013 Photo by Schmidt, Louisiana
We know that Louisiana is located at a fragile place place with vast wetlands that act as protective barriers against a relentless attack by the sea, storms, wind and rising sea levels against the coasts. 

Here is the quote that sums it all up:

“This protective buffer took 6,000 years to form,” the state board that oversees flood-protection efforts for much of the New Orleans area argued in court filings, adding that “it has been brought to the brink of destruction over the course of a single human lifetime.”

The lawsuit was filed in civil district court in New Orleans by the board of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.  "The board argues that the energy companies, including BP and Exxon Mobil, should be held responsible for fixing damage done by cutting thousands of miles of oil and gas access and pipeline canals through the wetlands."

I have done research in these wetlands and no words can convey what a magnificent architecure of nature this is and how delicate the balance.

As we rode in an air boat down to the marsh we whipped through landscapes of moss covered trees, alligators sunning on the shore, a huge variety of birds and other critters. We flew over grassy marshes and stopped at the research spot where we were to collect samples and observe the behavior of the vast floating marsh.

When you step on this marvelous environment it's a strange sensation. As far as the eye can see there is grass and some small scrub. BUT you can feel the ground give under you because the whole thing is like a water bed!

What has happened to this environment?

"A 2012 report by the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority stated, “Dredging canals for oil and gas exploration and pipelines provided our nation with critical energy supplies, but these activities also took a toll on the landscape, weakening marshes and allowing salt water to spread higher into coastal basins.”

That's what this lawsuit is all about. We will be following this suit to see the outcome because the question is whether there is any responsibility for causing serious and potentially disastrous destruction of an irreplaceable ecosystem.
Our air boat on wetland during research trip. (c) 2013 Photo by Schmidt, Louisiana

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