Oil and Gas Have Laid Waste to Louisiana's Coast

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The Sierra Club's Delta Chapter has worked for more than 28 years to slow and restore the damage to Louisiana's coastal wetlands. Since the 1950s, the oil and gas industries have dredged thousands of miles of canals for drilling and pipelines -- destroying the wetlands that are critical for wildlife habitat and for protecting the state from damaging storms.

Darryl Malek-Wiley regularly leads volunteer work groups to restore areas of coastal wetland, especially in the years since Hurricane Katrina.

"Louisiana's coastal marshes provide habitat for many species, a protective barrier for the ports and cities against storms and hurricanes, and a great source of recreation and seafood for us," says Darryl, a Sierra Club environmental justice organizer in Louisiana.

Now the Sierra Club is joining a coalition of groups in supporting a lawsuit against nearly 100 oil and gas companies that have been linked to the destruction of wetlands between New Orleans and the Gulf. The lawsuit was filed last week by the official governor-appointed board that manages the levees and storm protection system for New Orleans: the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority.

Since the lawsuit was announced, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has fired back, calling for the lawsuit's dismissal, even though in previous years he has himself called for coastal protection.

"I was surprised," says Darryl in a news article, "because the governor has, time and again, talked about the need to restore coastal Louisiana. This lawsuit is just another way we can restore coastal Louisiana, by getting these oil companies to repair the damage that they've caused to our wetlands

"It's shocked me that we have Governor Jindal, who has talked about being a strong advocate for wetlands protection, attacking an agency that's trying to get those wetlands restored."

Louisiana's official state website even goes into detail on why this loss of wetlands is such a crisis!

The state's shoreline contains 30 percent of all continental U.S. coastal marshes and experiences 90 percent of all coastal marsh loss. And it's not just wildlife that are affected -- more than 2 million people live in the coastal areas of Louisiana. The state is losing a football field's worth of wetlands every hour.

Additionally, the loss of wetlands threatens the vital ports in the state, which handle more than 21 percent of U.S. "waterborne" commerce.

Governor Jindal should actually support this action against the industries that are taking such a toll on his state. Indeed, many other state officials, local businesses, and others are on the side of the lawsuit. How long must we allow the oil and gas industries to continue destroying critical wetlands? And when the next massive hurricane hits, what will help protect the millions of people living along the coast?

You can help -- sign the petition calling on Governor Jindal to change his position and side with the people, not the oil and gas companies that are destroying Louisiana's coast. Nearly 10,000 people have already signed in less than a week!

Tags: louisiana | Natural Gas | Oil

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