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Louisiana Oil Lawsuits Filed by Landowners, Environmental Groups, and Parishes

Posted on: September 15th, 2015 by restoreit

Louisiana Oil Lawsuits

Oil and gas companies are becoming the recipient of Louisiana oil lawsuits from many different parties across the state. The plantiffs are Louisiana parishes, Louisiana individual landowners, environmental groups, and more. The basis for suit is the contamination of land and water, and the violation of existing land protection laws.

Plaquemines and Jefferson Parish

There are over 70 oil and gas companies that operate in Louisiana. In Plaquemines Parish, 66% of tax revenue comes from oil and gas operations, making these companies a huge influence in the area, for better or for worse. Plaquemines Parish is one of the most fragile coastal environments and one that is also subjected to the oil and gas companies’ exploitation of land. Plaquemines Parish recently filed 21 lawsuits against some of these companies, congruent with the number of oil fields that were left in disrepair after oil company operations. Despite attempts from LOGA to end the Louisiana oil lawsuits, the parishes hold the legal authority to file such suits due to the pre-existing mandated coastal regulations and the 1978 law that outlines the responsibilities oil and gas companies have to restore the leased land.

oil sludge left on Louisiana residential property

Jefferson Parish filed an additional seven lawsuits, hoping to recover damages done to coastal land in their jurisdiction. If the lawsuits are successful, the oil and gas companies would have to repair the damages done or reimburse the state to fix the damages.

Because the oil and gas companies were historically left to self-report to the state and federal agencies, many environmental laws were broken or overlooked. In some cases, pipes were laid without permission, and wells were drilled without permits. Out of the 70-plus oil companies leasing land in Louisiana, not a single one has ever filed permits saying that the land was restored or in the process of being restored.

Environmental Groups File Suit Against Oil Companies

In 2014, Environmental groups Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana Environmental Action Network and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against United Bulk for contaminating the Mississippi River with toxic petroleum coke and coal runoff. Coal runoff can result in chemicals like lead and arsenic migrating into the Mississippi. The basis for the lawsuit filed was unpermitted chemical discharges for the past five years. This runoff is the obvious violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

Landowners and Legacy Lawsuits

Legacy lawsuits are suits filed by Louisiana landowners who allowed oil and gas companies to lease their property for oil excavation on the terms that they would repair the site afterwards. Residents and landowners who state that the oil companies did not respect written agreements have filed lawsuits. Others have filed Louisiana oil lawsuits in response to groundwater and land contamination. Those opposing the legacy lawsuits say that is it hard to find fault on companies that were complying with the environmental laws at the time, regardless of current damages. Additional opposition comes from fear of job loss and costly litigation with no real state monetary gain.

leftover oil equipment results in louisiana oil lawsuit

Awaiting Resolve

Despite the several parties mentioned are in agreement about the responsibility of coastal damages, our state is still faces a lengthy process of coastal restoration and recovery. Quizzically, Louisiana’s multi-billion dollar Coastal Master Plan leaves most of the responsibility for restoration upon the state-funded systems, not the oil and gas companies that promised to fix them in their initial lease contracts. It is clear that we have reached the limits of pumping our fragile ecosystem for profit.

Tags: jefferson parish, legacy lawsuits, mississippi river, oil and gas companies, oil lawsuits, plaquemines parish, pollution
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Saving Louisiana

Posted on: December 11th, 2014 by restoreit

Saving Louisiana

President, National Audubon Society

Huffington Post.  Click here for story

Louisiana is disappearing. Every year, land mass equal to the size of Manhattan is lost–simply washed out to sea off the continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico.

Louisiana’s crisis is out of sight and out of mind. When Katrina roared into New Orleans with no natural wetlands barrier to slow that killer storm, America cared for a hot minute.

But after that catastrophe and even after the BP oil disaster, there’s just no sense of urgency about the disappearance of America’s Gulf Coast.

That’s stunning when you take a giant step back: The Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana is the seventh-largest system of its kind in the world and one of only two in the Western Hemisphere. And the truly remarkable opportunity in front of us is that we have a chance to make amends, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to restore this magical, productive ecosystem of coastal wetlands.

It’s not just Louisiana’s people, economy, culture and wildlife that are at risk. The Mississippi River Delta is connected to a vast network of waterways throughout the heartland of America, contributing tens of billions of dollars to our national economy every year and supporting millions of jobs.

Nearly half of America’s bird species use the Gulf Coast at some point in their migration. And those birds are the indicators of the health of places. The imperiled Piping Plover flies across the entire country to the Gulf Coast from nesting grounds on the Canadian border, the Great Lakes and New England. A large number of those Piping Plovers depend on the Gulf Coast wetlands and the Mississippi River Delta for their winter survival.

Louisiana has developed a bipartisan coastal master plan that identifies 109 different projects that should be completed over the next half century to help preserve and expand existing wetlands.

We need to be far more careful about the slicing and dicing of coastal wetlands with canals and industrial infrastructure. We need to set up a structure of state and federal agencies with the authority to end the bureaucratic turf wars that have left some restoration efforts in limbo for years. Louisiana politicians and citizens need to keep the state’s ambitious master plan on track.

Federal and state authorities need to make sure the money from all sources–public and private–intended for coastal protection and restoration goes to protecting our wetlands, not to building civic centers and highways or to plug other holes in the state’s budget.

A recent study by Audubon underscores the urgency for preserving the coastal wetlands for birds. Nearly half of the birds in North America could lose over 50 percent of the areas where they live before the end of this century, according to 30 years of data collected and analyzed by Audubon. In addition to the Piping Plover, threatened species include Louisiana’s state bird, the Brown Pelican, and the Roseate Spoonbill, a showy pink wading bird with an oversized spoon-shaped bill.

The coastal plains of Louisiana and neighboring Texas are going to be critical “strongholds”–places that in the future will provide the right habitat for birds that are forced out of other ranges because the weather becomes too wet or too dry, too hot or too cold. These “strongholds” will give vulnerable birds a fighting chance to hold on in the face of climate change.

This is not Louisiana’s problem; this is America’s Great Delta. To see how you can take action, visit here.

David Yarnold is President and CEO of the National Audubon Society.

 

Tags: coastal erosion, legacy lawsuit, Louisiana, wetlands
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On the News With Thom Hartmann: When Big Oil Pays for Its Disasters, the Environment May Recover, and More

Posted on: September 2nd, 2014 by restoreit

On the News With Thom Hartmann: When Big Oil Pays for Its Disasters, the Environment May Recover, and More

To hear the interview or read the transcript click here 

www.truthout.com

September 2, 2014

In today’s On the News segment: When Big Oil is forced to pay for its disasters, the environment has a much better chance to recover; the recent earthquake in Southern California cost over a billion dollars in damages and left more than 100 people injured; Nixon’s War on Drugs demonized marijuana, but science keeps finding new benefits of that miracle plant; and more.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of….science & green news…..

You need to know this. When Big Oil is forced to pay for their disasters, the environment has a much better chance to recover. Twenty-seven square miles of wetlands along the Texas coastline have been preserved using funds from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation recently purchased the 17,000 acre Powderhorn Ranch using about $38 million dollars from BP’s fines and other conservation group funding. That purchase will protect the salt marshes, oak forests, and pristine wetlands of Texas’s coastline, and it will provide a buffer for storm surge and sea level rise that pose a threat to that state. The Wildlife Foundation had been trying to purchase the land for over three decades, but was unable to raise the funding until BP was forced to pay. This is exactly why it’s so important to prevent corporations from privatizing gains and socializing losses. So many of the natural disasters caused by the fossil fuel industry have been left to taxpayers to clean up, and it was only the massive scale of the BP spill that prompted large fines and settlements. When we divert tax dollars to clean up a corporation’s mess, we make that funding unavailable for other important functions. By forcing Big Oil to pay for their disasters, we are able to clean and protect our environment without depriving our government of the tax dollars needed to operate. And, we raise the cost of business for the fossil fuel industry, and force them to do more to prevent another disaster. Texas’s newest wildlife preserve is proof that fining oil companies can be a success, but we shouldn’t wait until the next disaster to make Big Oil pay up. Let’s make them pay in advance for the destruction they cause by instituting a tax on carbon. To find out more, check out our new video “Carbon” at GreenWorldRising.org.

The recent earthquake in Southern California caused over a billion dollars in damages and left more than 100 people injured. However, a federal nuclear inspector says that the next earthquake could cause a much more serious problem. Michael Peck was the lead on-site inspector for the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County, and he says that plant may not be safe from the jolt of a nearby earthquake. According to Mr. Peck’s report, the Shoreline fault discovered in 2008 poses a serious risk to the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says everything is fine. That fault line is only 650 yards from the plant’s reactors, and another fault lines lies just three miles away. Mr. Peck’s report says that the structure of Diablo Canyon was never changed after the discovery of the more-distant fault line, let alone the Shoreline fault on which the plant nearly sits. The 2011 Fukushima disaster showed exactly what an earthquake and tsunami can do to a nuclear plant, and it’s unimaginable that we’re not doing more to prevent a similar event here at home.

Nixon’s War on Drugs demonized marijuana, but science keeps finding new benefits of that miracle plant. A recent study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine says that states that have legalized medical marijuana have seen a 25 percent drop in prescription overdose deaths. In fact, the longer that a state keeps this policy, the lower the rate of overdose. According to the researchers, after one year of legalized medical marijuana, these deaths dropped by 20 percent. However, after five years, prescription overdoses declined by 34 percent. The majority of these overdose deaths – about 60 percent – occur in patients who are prescribed opioids for pain. Because marijuana provides effective pain relief without the danger of overdose, many patients are making the switch. Other recent studies have shown that marijuana is also effective at treating nausea, providing relief to cancer patients, and more. It’s no wonder that Big Pharma has made every effort to keep this natural remedy illegal.

There are so many trains carrying oil in North Dakota that farmers are having trouble getting their crops to market. There is a huge problem backlog of trains carrying soybeans, wheat, sugar beets, and other crops, but trains full of oil from the Bakken shale region are being allowed to sail through. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Senator Heidi Heitkamp explained that this backlog is not just a regional problem. She said, “The inability of farmers to get these grains to market is not only a problem for agriculture, but for companies that produce cereals, breads, and other goods.” A recent study from North Dakota State University says that farmers stand to lose more than $160 million dollars because of the railway congestion. The cost to food producers who use these crops may be even higher. Oil doesn’t expire, and we sure as heck can’t eat it. There is absolutely no reason why oil trains should be prioritized over important food crops. We better fix this problem, and do it fast, before the fruit of our nation’s bread basket rots while Big Oil rakes in more profits.

And finally… Humans take almost twice as long as other primates to reach maturity. For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out exactly why we take so much longer to grow up, and they may have finally answered the question. According to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, humans grow more slowly because so much energy is being consumed by our brains. In fact, 44 percent of all our energy during infancy and 87 percent during childhood is used only on mental development. Because our brains use so much fuel, there is less glucose left over to support physical growth. The next step in this research, measuring exactly how much energy that other primates use for brain function, will be difficult. However, scientists believe that this theory is well supported by their research. This study brings a whole new meaning to the term “brain food,” and shows just how important it is to make sure kids have adequate nutrition.

And that’s the way it is for the week of September 1, 2014 – I’m Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

Tags: Big Oil, BP damage, coastal restoration
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Highlights from Our Expert Panel On How to Pay for Coastal Restoration

Posted on: August 25th, 2014 by restoreit

The Lens
Steve Myers
August 21, 2014

How to Pay for Coastal Restoration

Click here for a link to the videos

About 130 people attended our Coastal Conservation Conversation event Wednesday night to hear experts discuss the challenges of funding the state’s 50-year, $50 billion coastal rebuilding plan.

On the panel:

Mark Davis, Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy
John Driscoll, Corporate Planning Resources
Kyle Graham, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
Douglas J. Meffert, Audubon Louisiana/National Audubon Society
Steve Murchie, Gulf Restoration Network
Courtney Taylor, Environmental Defense Fund
Fox 8 News’ John Snell moderated.

We’ll post the full video later; in the meantime here are some highlights.

GRAHAM: OIL AND GAS WILL PAY FOR THE COAST, SOMEHOW

“I think it’s very difficult to see a future” without some kind of settlement with the oil and gas industry, Graham said.

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