Blaming energy industry for coastal erosion solves nothing, says LLAW

By Carrie Bradon | May 6, 2019

New Orleans Parish is one of many in the state that has filed a lawsuit against the oil and gas companies, alleging that their operations have been the main contributors to several of Louisiana's environmental issues including the coastal erosion.

According to The Advocate, Gov. John Bel Edwards has previously called out the energy industry over exploration operations, claiming canal digging has sped up the erosion of the state’s wetlands. 

However, the governor’s statements are not swaying everyone, as Chris McLindon, president of the New Orleans Geographical Society, has explained that much of the damages to the wetlands may well be linked to regular, natural functions, according to The Advocate.

Among the natural causes for the erosion, McLindon says, is subsidence, which is caused by fault movement as well as the gravity of sediments, as the state sits on the North American Continental plate that is sinking in the Gulf Coast area. 

Lana Venable, executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch  

Lana Venable, executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, commented on the new findings.

“The science behind changes to Louisiana’s coastline cannot be ignored," Venable told Louisiana Record. "While the simple approach might be to pin the blame on the energy industry, there are many factors at play. Research from numerous studies has indicated that fault movement beneath the coast and the weight of sediment flow lead to natural subsidence, which is actually the largest land-loss contributor.”

While the science may point to nature, Venable is not surprised that trial lawyers are seeking out profitable lawsuits such as this one, which if settled in their favor would result in massive payouts from the oil and gas industries — both of which have deep pockets. 

“It’s much easier – and more profitable – for trial lawyers to point the finger at industry,” Venable said. “The most effective way to address this critical issue is to foster communication between the oil and gas industry and other key stakeholders. Of course, it is in the interest of trial lawyers to pursue big payouts instead of encouraging this critical dialogue. Lawsuits serve no role in identifying a real, sustainable solution for Louisiana’s coastline.” 

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