According to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, the equivalent of roughly one football field of land is lost to the sea every 38 minutes. This figure was obtained from research done by the United States Geological Survey. It is projected that a landmass equivalent to the size of Rhode Island could be lost by 2050 if nothing is done to stop it.
Lawsuits have been filed against gas and oil companies that worked in the wetlands. The contention is that these companies were only permitted to work on the coast as long as they repaired the land to its original condition. A suit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East contends that 97 oil and gas companies have all contributed partially to the weakening of the Louisiana coast. While no one company is singled out in the suit, each company is asked to repair its share of the damage.
There has been opposition to these lawsuits from both Governor Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. Jindal passed SB 469 in June, which attempts to protect oil companies from lawsuits related to land erosion and other coastal damage. In addition, Jindal has been stacking the levee board with members who are against suing oil companies.
Oil and gas companies that violate maritime law may be held financially responsible for their actions. It may be possible to compel the companies to clean up damage done to coastal areas or provide funds for third parties to do the work. In addition, it may be possible for businesses or individuals affected by such damage to win compensation to the extent that they were harmed. An attorney could help businesses or individuals with legal action as either a single case or part of a class-action lawsuit.