coastal erosion

Marketplace reporter Sam Harnett takes a look at Louisiana's voracious unoffical mascot: the nutria. Trappers who put a significant dent in nutria populations are retiring, and some are looking for new solutions to help stem the tide of the ecologically-destructive beasties.

John Barry

In July a landmark lawsuit was filed against the oil and gas industries for their role in the destruction of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands — a lawsuit that many people have been waiting decades to see.

But this suit didn’t come from an environmental group or a private landholder. It came from the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East, an agency charged with maintaining the huge hurricane protection system recently built around the metro New Orleans area.

Taxpayers may be on the line for hundreds of thousands of dollars if the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East has to withdraw its lawsuit against oil and gas companies.

SLFPA-E met opposition from the legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee Wednesday, as the committee gathered information from the authority on the suit, also hearing opposing testimony from Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority head Garret Graves.

When Louisiana officials unveiled the $50-billion Master Plan for the Coast, a 50-year program that could prevent most of southeast Louisiana from sinking under the Gulf by the end of the century as predicted, they knew one of their most important priorities would be getting reliable, long-term funding through Congress.

A lawsuit filed this week against dozens of companies in the oil industry has already gotten stiff political opposition. A Loyola University law professor sees a major legal battle erupting ahead for the levee board suing for wetlands repairs.

A New Orleans-area levee district is suing 97 oil industry companies for damaging wetlands that protect the city from hurricanes. The district is seeking repairs that could cost several billion dollars.

State plans to restore the coastline are trying to mimic the way the Mississippi built the coast. Thousands of years ago the river dumped sediment from the plains upriver into the marsh. But some fishermen are worried the plans will displace the saltwater fish they catch to make a living.

Fishermen voiced their opposition at a community meeting in St. Bernard Monday.

America's Wetland Foundation

Restoring the Gulf Coast is also a critical business issue, as R. King Milling, chairman of the governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection and Restoration and the former president of Whitney Bank, explains.

TRANSCRIPT:

Bob Marshall: What is your association with coastal issues in Louisiana?

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — Getting Involved

Jun 10, 2013
Tulane University

After interviewing nearly 20 people involved in the coastal restoration process and program — from scientists and engineers, to public officials leading agencies — one of the surprising findings was the consensus among them that people living inside these levees — who live in the most threatened spot in North America due to sea level rise, subsidence and coastal land loss — don’t seem to be fully engaged or aware of just how precarious their situation is.

So, is this common?

Jason Saul / WWNO

If there is one underlying justification for Louisiana’s $50 billion Master Plan for coastal restoration, it’s this: We actually have a chance to prevent Southeast Louisiana from drowning in the Gulf, because the Mississippi River carries the sediment necessary to keep pace with sea level rise.

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