New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell has taken a stand against the oil and gas companies that operate within the state, alleging they have caused massive coastal erosion due to channels that were dug years ago. But pro-business groups are not convinced that lawsuits will solve the problem.
In an interview, lead coastal reporter for WWNO-FM Tegan Wendland explained how the purported damage has taken place.
“Louisiana’s entire coast is sinking and washing away and one of the reasons is these channels, as there’s a lot more drilling out in the Gulf of Mexico, but there used to be a lot of rigs closer inland and to get to those rigs the past hundred years or so, companies dug these channels through these marshes and saltwater got into those and eroded them and that’s contributed by some accounts up to 90 percent of the land loss that we have experienced here so far,” Wendland said.
Grow Louisiana Coalition warns lawsuits are not a proactive way to solve the erosion situation.
“Lawsuits do not build relationships; they end them,” Grow Louisiana Coalition Executive Director Marc Ehrhardt told Louisiana Record. “The message being sent to thousands of New Orleanians who have made their lives and raised their families in the City of New Orleans is that their work, their years of paying taxes, rebuilding their homes and neighborhoods, and their value to the community means nothing. The city would rather sue them.”
Ehrhardt pointed out that the lawsuits, which were filed in 2013, have been thrown out of federal court four times.
“Other lawsuits still languish in the court system without any significant movement more than five years after they were first filed,” Ehrhardt said. "The people and businesses of New Orleans need jobs for everyone, not lawsuits."
Still, Cantrell remains determined to seek out damages for what she believes is the fault of the energy companies.
“The mayor is looking for money to rebuild the marshes in any way that she can,” Wendland said. "The oil and gas industry is certainly not very happy about it."