wetlands Archives - Clean Water, Land & CoastClean Water, Land & Coast

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.

 

c
Fitnessequipment
fitness
Nutritiousfood
routine
training
video
Yoga
art
fashion
health
music
photography
sports
Therecipe
tourism
travel
hygiene
industry
invest
markets
medical
Motorcar
Realestate
technique
animation
car
games
Motorcar
movies
music
news
Scienceandtechnology
tutorial
business
cookbook
fashion
fitness
health
magazine
news
sports
Streetfashion
travel
Bigdata
business
Fashionshow
fitness
health
lifestyle
Smalltools
Therecipe
Abadgirl
appetite
attitude
movies
rendezvous
sex
toys
catering
health
outdoors
Reduceweight
science
stretch
training
business
cookbook
fashion
fitness
health
magazine
news
sports
Streetfashion
travel
art
fashion
health
music
photography
sports
Therecipe
tourism
travel
Fitnessequipment
fitness
nutrition
Nutritiousfood
routine
training
video
Yoga
Classiccars
evaluation
technique
transact
business
Fashionmagazine
Fashionshow
Femalemodels
fitness
health
lifestyle
Smalltools
Therecipe
travel
animation
car
games
Motorcar
movies
music
news
Scienceandtechnology
tutorial
catering
health
Loseweight
outdoors
Reduceweight
science
stretch
training
Abadgirl
appetite
attitude
movies
rendezvous
sex
toys
catering
health
outdoors
Reduceweight
science
stretch
training
business
cookbook
fashion
fitness
health
magazine
news
sports
Streetfashion
travel
art
fashion
health
music
photography
sports
Therecipe
tourism
travel
Fitnessequipment
fitness
nutrition
Nutritiousfood
routine
training
video
Yoga
Classiccars
evaluation
technique
transact
business
Fashionmagazine
Fashionshow
Femalemodels
fitness
health
lifestyle
Smalltools
Therecipe
travel
animation
car
games
Motorcar
movies
music
news
Scienceandtechnology
tutorial
catering
health
Loseweight
outdoors
Reduceweight
science
stretch
training
Abadgirl
appetite
attitude
movies
rendezvous
sex
toys
business
fashion
fitness
health
magazine
news
sports
Streetfashion
travel
Bigdata
business
Fashionshow
fitness
health
lifestyle
Smalltools
Therecipe
Abadgirl
appetite
attitude
movies
rendezvous
sex
toys
catering
health
outdoors
Reduceweight
science
stretch
training
business
cookbook
fashion
fitness
health
magazine
news
sports
Streetfashion
travel
art
fashion
health
music
photography
sports
Therecipe
tourism
travel
Fitnessequipment
fitness
nutrition
Nutritiousfood
routine
training
video
Yoga
Classiccars
evaluation
technique
transact
business
Fashionmagazine
Fashionshow
Femalemodels
fitness
health
lifestyle
Smalltools
Therecipe
travel
animation
car
games
Motorcar
movies
music
news
Scienceandtechnology
tutorial
Abadgirl
appetite
attitude
movies
rendezvous
sex
toys
business
fashion
fitness
health
lifestyle
news
Smalltools
Streetfashion
Therecipe
travel
hygiene
industry
invest
markets
medical
Motorcar
Realestate
fitness
Fitnessequipment
Nutritiousfood
routine
training
video
Yoga
art
fashion
health
music
photography
sports
Therecipe
tourism
travel
Tags: coastal erosion, legacy lawsuit, Louisiana, wetlands
Posted in Jefferson & Plaquemines Parish, LA Coastal Parish News | Comments Off on Saving Louisiana

James Gill: Tide Turning on Oil Industry

Posted on: November 17th, 2013 by restoreit

To read story click here

James Gill: Tide turning on oil industry

 November 17, 2013

 

It took a while, but the resistance is making headway.

The occupying forces, while not exactly on the run, may soon be forced to the negotiating table. The quisling government is starting to look rattled. Citizens want their country back.

Such is the current condition of Louisiana, which has been under the foreign heel of oil and gas so long that recompense for the massive destruction and exploitation seemed out of the question. Toxins leached into the shrinking wetlands and natural flood barriers washed away, but oil and gas were abundant and politicians cheap. The companies extracted billions of dollars and doubtless regarded the natives with contempt.

They still have some powerful collaborators, Gov. Bobby Jindal chief among them. But the tide seems to be turning.

Jindal blew his stack a couple of months ago when the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority–East sued 97 oil and gas companies for despoiling the coastal zone. Jindal claimed that the Authority had exceeded its authority, which was demonstrably untrue, and that the lawsuit would interfere with the state’s coastal restoration master plan, although nobody in his administration has ever explained what inconvenience would result from chucking more money in the pot.

At any event, Jindal did not want oil and gas held responsible for their depredations. He threw John Barry, prime mover behind the lawsuit, off the Authority, and threatened to enact restrictions on its autonomy in next year’s session.

But that just became a little less likely, because it is suddenly all the rage to file suit requiring oil and gas to fix what they broke or pay compensation. Plaquemines Parish has sued 21 companies, Jefferson Parish seven, and their example will probably inspire others. Legislators may be loath to get in the way if the folks back home are keen to see oil and gas pay their debts.

Nobody, not even Jindal’s coastal guru Garret Graves, doubts that lawless oil and gas companies are responsible for much of Louisiana’s wetlands loss. Companies dug their canals and built their pipelines often without the requisite permits and routinely ignored the law that required them to restore the terrain they damaged.

Nobody doubts either that there won’t be much of a future for south Louisiana unless we arrest and ideally reverse the erosion. The only question is who should pay to fix the wetlands- you and I or the companies that laid waste to them?

That’s not exactly a tough call, although the Jindal administration, in demanding that the Flood Protection Authority drop its suit, preferred to stick the taxpayer with the tab. Now that the parishes are following suit, however, Graves is apparently more sympathetic to the idea of litigation. He justifies this change of heart by noting that the parishes’ suits are filed by elected officials, whereas the Flood Protection Authority is appointive, although what difference that makes is obvious only to him. The Authority has the same standing to sue as a parish council.

Graves also raises a familiar specter: greedy trial lawyers, working on contingency, will bag “a sizable percentage of the proceeds” if they prevail in the Flood Protection Authority suit. Sure, they will, but lawyers won’t be representing the parishes for nothing either.

As Barry points out in an online column, “well-defined guidelines” indicate that plaintiff lawyers in the various cases will cop about the same percentage. Besides, there really is no need to hide under the bed every time some Republican politician yells, “Trial lawyer!” Complex cases often take years, and there’s always the chance of losing.

But it is beginning to look as though no cases will come to court as demands grow for oil and gas to be held to account and the administration’s objections grow ever more cockamamie, a sure sign that there are no rational grounds for dispute.

Indeed, the Barry faction has always hoped a statewide settlement could be negotiated, and now Graves is starting to sing the same song. “Attempts to work co-operatively with industry would be a prudent first step in addressing any potential liability,” he said the other day.

That’s an improvement on the administration’s earlier pronouncements, but “Vive la revolution” would be more like it.

James Gill’s email address is jgill@ theadvocate.com.

Tags: erosion, legacy lawsuits, Louisiana, oil and gas, wetlands
Posted in News | Comments Off on James Gill: Tide Turning on Oil Industry

Jefferson, Plaquemines File Coastal Erosion Lawsuits Against Oil, Gas Companies

Posted on: November 14th, 2013 by restoreit

Click here for full story

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND — Plaquemines Parish dredged Wilkinson Canal, and created this “marsh wall” with the excess. The cell, to the left of the wall, was then filled with sediment to create a fringe marsh the parish hopes will weaken storm surges that threaten property. The fringe marsh will soon be populated with vegetation through natural processes.

30 SUITS TAKE ON OIL INDUSTRY FOR DAMAGE

BY JEFF ADELSON

Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes have filed a set of nearly 30 lawsuits alleging dozens of energy companies and their contractors destroyed and polluted the parishes’ coastal areas, mirroring the philosophy, if not the exact tactics, of a suit a local levee district filed this summer seeking to bring the oil and gas industry to account.

The companies ignored state laws that required coastal land used by oil and gas companies to be maintained properly and eventually restored to its original condition, according to the parish suits, which were filed Friday and Tuesday. The failure to take those actions has been linked to significant coastal erosion in the state, and the suits contend that the company’s actions led to contamination of coastal water and land with toxins.

That damage occurred despite specific requirements in their permits that the companies had to repair whatever harm they inflicted on the coast, according to the suits.

“We know we have the authority, we know the regulations were violated, we know the guidelines were violated,” said John Carmouche, of the Baton Rouge firm Talbot, Carmouche and Marcello, the lead lawyers for the parishes.

The suits, filed in the parish district courts, allege companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and many others ignored state laws governing their activities in coastal areas, failing to restore oilfields that had been destroyed by the pits and canals that are a part of oil and gas extraction, and leaving polluted land and water in their wake. The parishes each filed their own set of lawsuitscovering a total of 28 oilfields in their jurisdictions, seven in Jefferson Parish and 21 in Plaquemines.

The case is largely based on a 1978 law that defines companies’ responsibilities in maintaining, closing and restoring sites they worked on. At the time, the law was opposed by oil and gas interests, Carmouche said.

Since then, the energy industry has continued working on projects in coastal areas under a set of regulations governing how the areas must be maintained and requiring they be completely restored when they’re no longer needed. However, enforcement of those regulations has been lax or non-existent, relying largely on self-reporting by the companies doing the work, Carmouche said.

“We’ve taken depositions of prior (state conservation) commissioners going back to the ’70s and ’80s, and they had three investigators to investigate the entire state of Louisiana,” he said.

Among the regulations in that law was the duty to see that sites were “cleared, revegetated, detoxified and otherwise restored as near as practicable to their original condition upon termination of the operations to the maximum extent practicable.”

None of the companies ever filed permits indicating they had restored those fields, the suits say.

“I think the oil companies have an obligation to self-report, I think the oil companies are to blame and I think the oil companies took advantage of the state,” Carmouche said.

Should the parishes’ suits succeed, the oil and gas industry would have to pay to restore that damage or provide compensation for the land destroyed, he said.

Carmouche did not have figures for how much the restoration efforts could cost or the total amount of land involved.

The parishes’ suits are much more narrowly tailored, and potentially simpler, than the massive case brought against oil and gas companies by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East earlier this year. While both cases rest, at least in part, on the alleged failure of energy companies to abide by the terms of their permits, the parishes merely have to prove that point.

The flood protection authority’s suit requires the levee board’s lawyers to prove that oil and gas activity in southeast Louisiana led to erosion that eventually allowed more destructive storm surge to hit the New Orleans area — in turn requiring more complicated and expensive flood protection systems. Proving that chain of causality would be required not just to win the case but also to stave off any challenges to the flood protection authority’s legal right to file the suit in the first place.

The parishes, by contrast, have direct standing under state law to sue simply over a failure to adhere to coastal regulations.

While all of the suits take aim at coastal erosion and other damage allegedly caused by oil and gas companies, the parishes’ suits more closely mirror the so-called “legacy lawsuits” brought by landowners to require energy companies to repair damage done to their properties. Carmouche and his partners have been heavily involved in those suits for the last decade.

The parishes have been considering the lawsuits for about a year, meaning they were in the works for months before the flood protection authority’s suit became public.

While the flood protection authority’s suit drew the immediate ire of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, state officials have so far taken a far softer tone with the parish suits and stressed the differences between the two. Those include distinguishing between suits brought by an appointed board and by elected officials, in this case the Parish Councils, and the more targeted approach in the parish’s case.

The oil and gas industry, however, has been less discriminating and has sought to tie the cases together.

“These suits are more of the same,” Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs said in an email. “Extort as much money from the oil and gas industry as possible, thus lining the pockets of a small group of trial lawyers. Plaquemines and Jefferson Parish are simply following the precedence set by the South Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.”

Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association President Chris John said Tuesday he had not yet seen the parishes’ lawsuits but that he opposed a piecemeal approach to coastal restoration efforts, instead pointing to the state’s Coastal Master Plan. That 50-year, $50 billion proposal is intended to restore wetland damage and is largely funded through existing revenue streams, rather than suits against oil and gas companies, though it will receive money from the BP oil spill case.

“I do believe that repairing our coast is a massive undertaking that needs a master plan,” John said. “If you start to piecemeal it, its sure to have adverse affects on the project next door or the project on the other side of the marsh.”

John also suggested his organization could “continue to rally not only the industry but the administration” against all the suits.

But Carmouche said the law is clear and the industry needs to be held accountable.

“These are state regulations that were not followed and need to be enforced, and the parishes, I think, are the proper parties under the regulation to make sure the parishes are restored to their natural state,” he said.

 

 

 

Tags: environmental damage, Garret Graves, John Carmouche, legacy lawsuits, louisiana environment, wetlands
Posted in News | Comments Off on Jefferson, Plaquemines File Coastal Erosion Lawsuits Against Oil, Gas Companies