More than 100 oil and gas companies have been hit with a massive lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E). The lawsuit claims that the New Orleans area has been put at risk because of coastal erosion from the offshore oil industry.
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwall has given his approval for the lawsuit to proceed. It was filed in the Orleans Parish Central District Court. The SLFPA-E oversees the levee districts in the East Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish and the Lake Borgne Basin.
The suit says a 2011 U.S. Geological Survey study revealed that Louisiana is losing almost 17 miles of marshland on the coast each year. In the last ten years, that amount has tripled. The same survey, according to the lawsuit, lists many actions of the offshore oil industry as the reason, including the construction of canals and dredging.
According to the president of SLFPA-E, the lawsuit was filed so that the organization can continue to protect the area against catastrophic flooding. He said that the “first defensive perimeter is of course the buffer of land and marsh that cuts down hurricane storm surge before it reaches the levees.” According to the SLFPA-E, the oil and gas industry is responsible for about $470 billion in the destruction of the state’s natural resources that would help protect the area from storm surges over the past two decades. The SLFPA-E wants the oil and gas industry to pay their share of those costs.
The Louisiana Oil and Gass Association says that this is a ridiculous claim by the Flood Authority and is nothing more than another idea to “drain as much money from the oil and gas industry as possible.
While this is much more than just a defective product lawsuit claim, this case will have far-reaching implications for the oil and gas industry and for the coastal marshlands affected by the offshore oil industry.