Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute says coastal erosion suits may be more about payouts than protecting environment

By Carrie Bradon | May 1, 2019

Orleans Parish is among the parishes that have filed lawsuits against the oil and gas companies in the state alleging their operations are causing damage to wetlands and coastal erosion; but these allegations might be losing ground.

According to an April 20 article posted on the The Advocate's website, operations by those companies that previously had been linked to environmental damages, such as digging canals for oil exploration, might not have impacted the state’s wetlands as much as some groups have asserted. 

In the article, Chris McLindon, president of the New Orleans Geographical Society, said he believes that wetland loss is more likely attributed to a natural occurrence due to fault motion and the gravity of sediments, resulting in subsidence.

Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute Executive Director Marie Centanni recently spoke with the Louisiana Record about the article and what it means to the lawsuits that have been filed against the gas and oil industries. 

“These findings underscore the absurdity of coastal lawsuits in Louisiana – it’s illogical to lay the blame for such a complicated geological occurrence with a single industry – and the entire industry at that,” Centanni said.

In the article, McLindon said that because the North American continental plate is naturally sinking underneath the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi River basin is subsiding, which is causing loss of wetlands. He also said he believes that to point the finger at oil and gas operations is ignorant to the reality of fault lines.

Centanni said she believes that the allegations being made against oil and gas companies paired with McLindon’s theory is a clear sign that the lawsuits are concerned with payouts not environmental protection. 

“It also adds to the argument that the proper venue for coastal land loss remedies is with scientists and industry regulators, not courthouse cronies,” Centanni said. 

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