NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Flood protection officials in the New Orleans area have filed a lawsuit seeking to hold the oil and gas industry responsible for the erosion of hundreds of acres of coastal land that serve as a natural buffer against flooding from hurricanes.
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East's board of commissioners filed the lawsuit against dozens of companies Wednesday in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. The board says corrosive saltwater from a network of oil and gas access and pipeline canals has killed vegetation and swept away mountains of soil.
The wetlands are considered a crucial buffer against hurricanes because they can help keep floodwaters from storm surge at bay.
The board says it will have to bear many of the costs associated with the need for increased flood protection. Its suit seeks unspecified damages.
In a statement, the president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association called the suit an example of Louisiana's "sue-happy legal climate."
"This is just one more group seeking to extort money from the oil and gas industry," said Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association.
"The idea of 'Throw me something, Mista" reaches far and wide across our state and Louisiana is now a sue-happy legal climate. Whether it is Legacy Lawsuits, the BP claims or now this ridiculous claim by the Flood Authority, the idea remains the same: drain as much money from the oil and gas industry as possible."