St. Tammany Democrats group backs coastal erosion lawsuit ~Bob Warren
~ The Progressive Northshore Democrats organization of St. Tammany Parish Wednesday became the first political organization in southeast Louisiana to endorse a controversial lawsuit recently filed against 97 oil and natural gas companies by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority -- East seeking monetary relief for documented damage to the state's wetlands by years of drilling and energy industry canal dredging.
The landmark lawsuit was filed by the Authority recently in New Orleans Civil District Court. The Authority was approved as a constitutional amendment by voters following Hurricane Katrina and consists of nine members who are authorities in flood damage and water control and who serve without compensation.
In the resolution, adopted without opposition by the political group, it is noted that decades of unchecked oil and gas exploration company canal dredging has accounted for from 30 to 50 percent of the loss of some 2000 square miles of Louisiana wetlands. The resolution notes that in a much cited study for the Gas Research Institute in 1996, the late University of New Orleans geologist Shea Penland found that such drilling and dredging accounted for 36 percent of Louisiana wetlands loss from 1932 to 1990.
Progressive Northshore Democrats, led by Joan Simon of the Covington area, is an organization of Democrats and politically progressive independents who meet on a regular basis but it is not a registered non-profit nor a registered Political Action Committee. The organization has adopted past resolutions dealing with environmental issues pertaining to Lake Pontchartrain and surrounding areas. Member Richard Boyd authored the lawsuit resolution.
The resolution says that a "healthy and vibrant wetlands ecosystem is vital to controlling storm surge and destructive salt water intrusion...and a compromised wetlands interlaced with thousands of abandoned and neglected oil and gas industry drilling access and pipeline access canals negate the protective armor of a vibrant wetlands system." The resolution notes studies showing some 10,000 such canals have been dredged throughout the southeast Louisiana wetlands.
The resolution notes that continuing wetlands loss, a major portion attributed to the network of oil and gas dredged canals, increases the need for more expensive protection levees and floodgates to shield citizens and property from encroaching storm surge and salt water invasion.
The resolution calls upon Gov. Bobby Jindal, the state legislature, the state congressional delegation and municipal leaders of shoreline communities on the south and north shores of Lake Pontchartrain and east of the Mississippi River to join in endosring the filing of the historic lawsuit.
A copy of the resolution and accompanying map prepared for the political organization by the company DisasterMap.net was forwarded Wednesday to the Authority's offices in New Orleans.
Will river water save Louisiana's coast or kill the marsh? ~John Snell, WVUE
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