New Orleans Parish is one of many Louisiana parishes that have recently filed suit against the oil and gas companies, alleging that the industry’s operations are to blame for coastal erosion.
According to TheAdvocate, in 2018 Gov. John Bel Edwards called for legal action to be taken against the energy industry, claiming that it was due to operations like digging canals that was causing erosion of coastal wetlands. But some groups believe that is a misguided assumption.
New Orleans Geographical Society President Chris McLindon, for example, has explained that the wetland loss is most likely linked to subsidence, which is caused by both the gravity from the weight of sediments, and fault motion, as the North American Continental place is being sunken down in the Gulf Coast area. Where shifting plates cause earthquakes in California, McLindon said, the impact they have on Louisiana is exhibiting itself in loss of wetlands.
Grow Louisiana Coalition is one of the groups opposing the lawsuits, as they view them as an unnecessary stressor on the state’s economy.
“For decades, the oil and natural gas industry has dedicated itself to Louisiana’s coast and environment," executive director Marc Ehrhardt told Louisiana Record. "Revenue generated by the industry activity serves as the primary funding source for Louisiana’s coastal erosion efforts.”
Ehrhardt said that the industry is putting forth a great deal of effort in terms of improving the environmental condition of the state, contrary to allegations by trial lawyers.
“The industry is working on large-scale, innovative ideas that combine increasing commerce while protecting infrastructure and building up the coast,” he said. “Industry, science and communities are coming together to make things happen.”
Ehrhardt emphasized that economic growth will strengthen if the energy industry is able to carry out its operations unhindered by lawsuits.
“With planned investments in years to come, this commitment to Louisiana can continue for decades in the future," he said. "However, this growth will only occur if we travel a path that emphasizes collaboration with the industry, not fighting it.”