Last week, more than two dozen law professors from around the country – many of them CPR Member Scholars – filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging a fresh look at a lower court decision with sweeping implications for the balance of power between states and the federal government. The issue is vital to Louisiana because it affects whether oil and gas companies can be held liable for decades of damage they have done to the state's coastal wetlands.
The case is ambitious, to say the least. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority—East is small government agency that manages a complex system of levees, floodwalls, gates, pumps, retention systems, and more to keep Louisiana's residents safe from flooding. The levee authority does this even while sea levels rise and the spongy wetlands that might aid its work disappear at a rate measured in acres per hour.
In the lawsuit, the levee authority is up against 87 oil and gas companies that have contributed significantly to the degradation and loss of those coastal wetlands. Estimates vary, but the industry itself admits that its 50,000 wells, 10,000 miles of pipelines, and vast network of canals caused more than a third of the coastal wetlands loss that has to be seen to be truly appreciated. ProPublica illustrates it best.
The courtroom is just one front in the battle between the scrappy ...