Facts Behind Our Case

Click Here for an interactive timeline of oil & gas companies willfully breaking the law

Big Oil - You Break It - You Fix It

- Excerpt from the 1973 Corps Enviro Report

- Thousands of drilling sites in SE Louisiana that are now open water

“The histories of hydrocarbon production and pore-pressure reductions show that the highest subsidence rates corresponded to or closely followed the maximum rates of fluid extraction.” USGS 2002 Morton et al., 2001



  • From 1932 to 2010 Louisiana lost 1,868 square miles of coastal land – an area almost the size of Delaware, according to the USGS1
  • Currently, Louisiana loses an average of 25 square miles of land every year – almost two football fields every 45-50 minutes.2
  • In the next five decades, the Louisiana coast is expected to lose another 700 square miles – more than the area of Lake Pontchartrain.3 Much of this land will be closer to populated areas and its loss will put people and property in these areas in greater danger.


  • 10,000 miles of canals have been dredged in the Louisiana wetlands so far – longer than the lengths of the Amazon and Mississippi rivers combined


  • 6,000 years: the amount of time it took the Mississippi to create the Louisiana wetlands

    75 years: the amount of time it took humans to wash a third of the coast away5
  • In 10 years, this loss becomes irreversible - unless we act now6


  • The loss of just a 1-mile strip of coastal wetland results in an additional $5.8 million average annual property damage4
  • Coastal erosion will lead to increased costs for drinking water treatment7
  • Coastal erosion will lead to increased flood insurance costs7


  1. U.S. Geological Survey: http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/releases/pr03_004.htm
  2. Duke University Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness: http://www.cggc.duke.edu/pdfs/CGGC_Gulf-Coast-Restoration.pdf
  3. Louisiana State University College of Agriculture: http://www.lsuagcenter.com
  4. study by Southeastern Louisiana University, based on experience with prior hurricanes: http://www2.southeastern.edu/orgs/oilspill/wetlands.html
  5. U.S. Department of the Interior: http://www.doi.gov/pmb/oepc/wetlands2/v2ch8.cfm
  6. Barataria-Terrebone National Estuary Program, as quoted in the Times-Picayune: http://www.nola.com/speced/lastchance/t-p/index.ssf?/speced/lastchance/articles/day1.html
  7. Gulf Restoration Project: http://healthygulf.org/our-work/wetlands/wetland-importance 

The Role of the Oil Companies

  • "There is clear evidence that past and current oil and gas activities have made and continue to make substantial contributions to degradations in the natural defenses against hurricane surges and waves in coastal Louisiana. In several important cases, it was the loss of these natural defenses that contributed to the unanticipated breaches of flood protection facilities that protected the greater New Orleans area during Hurricane Katrina and led to repeated flooding during Hurricane Rita.” (source: July 2006 Affidavit of Robert Bea)

Robert Bea, Professor emeritus, University of California at Berkeley School of Engineering, former Chief Offshore Engineer, Shell Oil Co. noted in a July, 2006 affidavit on behalf of the state of Louisiana—a team which investigated the causes of the Katrina disaster.nd head of the National Science Foundation

  • As for the liability of the oil companies, Garret Graves, Chair of the Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, has said, “I will be the first one to admit, there’s liability there. I’m not an apologist for the oil and gas industry, I’ll be the first to tell you that.” Similarly, Graves has acknowledged that the oil industry has caused damage to Louisiana's coastal marsh: "No one is saying that historic oil and gas activities did not leave scars. What I am saying is that it is only a piece of the larger picture and you need to be very thoughtful and strategic as to how these issues are addressed in concert.” (source: The Advocate and NOLA.com)

Garrett Graves, Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA) and Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Activities. 

  • “The latest in this trend is a lawsuit filed that blames wetland erosion almost entirely on industry, despite its many causes both natural and manmade. Industry recognizes its role.” (source: NOLA.com)

Chris John, president of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association

  • “Dredging canals for oil and gas pipelines… took a toll on the landscape … canals and pipelines… crisscrossed south Louisiana marshes...the coastal marshes were lost when spoil banks were left randomly throughout the area, drastically altering the natural hydrology… salt water intrusion increased and more land was lost… canal dredging has had one of the most dramatic effects on wetland growth and regeneration… the marsh is unable to regenerate itself.” (source: Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority Master Plan)

Permit Language Obligating Oil Companies to Fix the Damage They’ve Done

  1. “Facilities shall be planned, designed, located and built to ... to prevent bank slumping and erosion, and saltwater intrusion, and to minimize the potential for inland movement of storm-generated surges."
    Louisiana Administrative Code 43:I.705(J)
  2. “Mineral exploration and production sites shall be cleared, revegetated, detoxified, and otherwise restored as near as practicable to their original condition upon termination of operations to the maximum extent practicable.”
    Louisiana Administrative Code 43:I.705(M)
  3. “Mineral exploration and production facilities shall be to the maximum extent practicable designed, constructed, and maintained in such a manner to maintain natural water flow regimes, avoid blocking surface drainage, and avoid erosion.”
    Louisiana Administrative Code 43:I.723(D)