What Shell owes Louisiana

As Facing South previously reported, Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal made an important commitment last week to spending a billion dollars in state funds on coastal restoration and protection projects in the coming years.

But many coastal activists continue to point out that in order to restore the coast and to fully protect Gulf communities, much larger investments will have to be made. Since oil and gas companies have played an integral part in destroying Louisiana's coastline, these activists argue that these companies should have to pay up to restore it.

Yesterday, a group of environmentalists demanded that Shell Oil Co. "fix the coast you broke" when they attempted to deliver the corporation a bill for $362 million for the cost of restoring wetlands that the company has destroyed, reports the Times-Picayune.

Dredging by oil companies such as Shell has contributed to erosion of the coast, leaving the region more vulnerable to hurricanes. The coalition of activists from grassroots groups such as Gulf Restoration Network and Advocates for Environmental Human Rights called on Shell to pay the money to the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Trust Fund, where it could be added to other offshore drilling revenue to help rebuild wetlands and build levees.

The Gulf Restoration Network reported in their blog:

The current estimate to fix Louisiana's coast and secure our communities is $50 billion, but taxpayers can't and shouldn't shoulder that burden alone. Coastal scientists estimate that oil and gas companies have caused 40-60% of the coastal land loss Louisiana is experiencing. Shell has played a major role in placing us in this precarious position, and should be a part of the financial solution.
According to records from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Shell Oil has dredged 8.8 million cubic yards of pipeline since 1983. These activities alone have caused the loss of 22,624 acres of wetlands in the last 25 years.
We feel the current situation in southern Louisiana informs the national debate around expanding offshore drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific Coast. Increased off-shore drilling would be detrimental to coastal communities, which is clear in the case of Louisiana. Decades of oil and gas activity along the coast have left the Mississippi River's once mighty delta a pale comparison of its former glory.