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November 2013 Coastal Scuttlebutt



Governor’s office hints that the Corps could be successfully sued

In a fascinating piece in Bob Marshall quoted Garret Graves as suggesting the unthinkable…that the state is developing a plan… to be announced at the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority meeting on December 3…to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its role in destroying America’s Delta. For such an action to be successful in terms of a multi-billion dollar judgment by a federal court against the corps seems as likely as overturning the second law of thermodynamics. For the SCOTUS to uphold such a judgment would signal that Mother Earth is in fact only 6,000 years old.

The corps has never denied the long-term negative impact on the Mississippi River Delta of its levees-only river management strategy, going as far back as 1845. Congress has thoughtfully given its favorite public works agency…the corps…blanket immunity from lawsuits for any and all damages from flood control projects.

Once again I will be unable to attend the CPRA meeting because of medical issues but I will anxiously await hearing the details about this scheme.


Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is the author of The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity.” Dr. Sachs posted a relatively upbeat opinion piece on changing attitudes on climate change in the Washington Post. In his essay Sachs points out the enormous amount of money invested by oil and gas companies to cast public doubt on climate change as a threat to humanity.

This is not surprising given the apoplectic and hyperbolic reaction by oil and gas company officials to the lawsuit recently brought against their industry by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E). This lawsuit seeks mitigation or remuneration for the enormous coastal damage caused by energy production in Louisiana.

For an update on the lawsuit see Bob Marshall’s summary of the November 21 meeting of the SLFPA-E, held to consider revoking the suit under intense pressure by Governor Jindal, who recently replaced three authority members with his buddies. Marshall has been covering the lawsuit in


$68 million allocated for Louisiana coastal projects

On November 15 Amy Wold reported in the Advocate that modest funding for planning and engineering of barrier shoreline nourishment and river sediment diversion projects is in the pipeline from criminal penalties against BP and Transocean. This is Louisiana’s first installment of $1.2 billion expected over the next five years, administered by the Fish and Wildlife Foundation. As welcome as new money is, $68 million is only a drop in the bucket compared to funding levels necessary to trigger map-changing efforts.

Serious data gap in satellite imagery

Speaking of insufficient funds, On November 14 Joseph Freedman posted a sobering report in Climate Central on a serious reduction in satellite imagery on which meteorological disasters and climate change phenomena depend. Good for you, Tea Party congresspersons. Hammering nails in the coastal coffin. 


Oil and gas-related coastal lawsuits not going away

Anne Rolfs wants to know what Garret Graves has been discussing with oil and gas officials re SLFPA-E lawsuit.

It’s old news that the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E), a quasi-independent state agency, filed a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies to pay to mitigate the cost of enormous coastal damage caused by decades of energy production in which permit conditions were ignored. Governor Jindal has mounted a vigorous campaign to discredit the lawsuit and to prevent it from proceeding. In the ongoing dispute over the justification for the suit, additional related legal suits have been filed, keeping the political pots boiling.

On September 28, Jeff Adelson reported in the Advocate that an environmental activist citizen named Anne Rolfs filed first a request to the Division of Administration and then a lawsuit to force Garret Graves, Bobby Jindal’s coastal advisor, to disclose the contents of his email correspondence since the original lawsuit was filed.

On November 10 Joe Gyan updated that story for the Advocate, reporting that the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge has ruled that Rolfs’ request of the DoA is valid. We’ll see what happens next.

On November 12 John Maginnis reported in LaPolitics that Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes have each filed lawsuits against certain oil companies for damages caused by their failure to fulfill coastal permit conditions for oil and gas production. It’s noteworthy that the governor’s reaction to this report has been considerably more circumspect. Could it be that the governor is fearful of a coastal parish rebellion?


On November 5 Phil Plait posted his latest retort in to those who argue that climate change (global warming) has paused recently. Not so, of course.The laws of physics are implacable and the heat input on Mother Earth continues to increase, it is currently being stored in the deep ocean, from whence it will rise to the surface to do its thing.

On November 6 Reuters published a report by Tom Miles on the latest concentration of greenhouse gases, including the most serious in terms of their propensity to trap heat: carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.


Residents of glass governor’s mansions shouldn’t throw stones

Bob Mann, noted LSU journalism professor and political observer, called attention to an op/ed essay by Governor Bobby Jindal in the Washington Post, in which Jindal accuses our African American president and attorney general of undermining civil rights progress since MLK. Jr.

This op/ed was also noted by Barbara Klein in HuffingtonPost). What a joke for Jindal to have the temerity to lash out at the Department of Justice for a legal challenge to Louisiana’s school voucher program. This program diverts limited tax monies to underwrite private schools, including religious schools that deny evolution and climate change.

It turns out that our governor spoke on Aug. 30 at a conference sponsored by the educational nonprofit Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a right wing uber-rich arm of the notorious anti-environmental climate change-denying Koch Brothers. This foundation lobbies for the privatization of public schools.

As the founder and apparently sole member of American’s for Posterity, a poor man’s alternative to American’s for Prosperity, I see Jindal’s defense of a failed educational system as a coastal issue in that it complements the governor’s ignorant young earth beliefs.


Egregious coastal use permit for coal handling facility at Myrtle Grove draws lawsuit

For over 20 years a discussion has been underway among coastal advocates on the need to separate the navigation related functions of the lower Mississippi River from the fundamental need to release river water on a large scale to nourish the dying delta. A specific geographic site to release the water for the latter purpose was the Myrtle Grove area on the west bank of Plaquemines Parish above the Head of Passes.

A medium scale diversion project evolved from this discussion and the so-called Myrtle Grove project has gone through advanced planning and engineering design culminating in its authorization for construction and inclusion in the state’s comprehensive coastal master plan. Thus it came as a surprise to most long term diversion supporters that a coastal use permit was granted by the state for a large industrial coal handling facility at the same site (Myrtle Grove).

Amy Wold reported in the Advocate on November 1 that a lawsuit has been filed against the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) for granting the permit for the coal facility, which would reduce the effectiveness of river diversion project. IMHO it was grossly irresponsible for the state to have granted the industrial permit, making the diversion project a of lesser importance.

Given the importance of climate change to our state it’s particularly ironic that a critical coastal restoration project should be jeopardized for the short term economic benefits of a coal-related project.

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  5. stormineaux says:

    With respect to the “egregious” coastal use permit for the coal facility in Plaquemines Parish, this permit could not have been issued without the approval of the CPRA, and therefore, by definition, the project is consistent with the Master Plan.

    Ridiculous you say? I call your attention to an executive order issued by Governor Jindal in the first month of his first term, EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. BJ 2008 -7. This executive order gave the executive assistant for coastal activities the authority to direct the actions of state agencies relative to the Master Plan. The EO also refers to a statutory provision, Louisiana Revised Statute 49:213, which provides the executive assistant for coastal activities with the authority to essentially regulate DNR’s permitting process. In practice this means that if the CPRA has a problem with a coastal use permit application, DNR cannot issue a permit for the use until or unless the CPRA removes its objection, and the CPRA uses this authority with vigor.

    Here is the relevant excerpt from that EO.
    WHEREAS, Louisiana Revised Statute 49:213 directs the Governor, through his executive assistant for coastal activities, to “coordinate and focus the functions of all state agencies as they relate to coastal protection, including hurricane protection and wetlands conservation and restoration”; and
    WHEREAS, Louisiana Revised Statute 49:213 authorizes the Governor, through his executive assistant for coastal activities, to “review and modify proposed coastal use permits prior to issuance to the extent that such permits would authorize activities which significantly affect hurricane protection or wetlands conservation and restoration projects or which significantly diminish the benefits of projects intended to protect, conserve or enhance coastal areas and to require the issuance of permits for public or private wetlands enhancement projects or plans.”;
    NOW THEREFORE, I, Bobby Jindal, Governor of the state of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution and the laws of the state of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:
    SECTION 1: All state agencies shall administer their regulatory practices, programs, contracts, grants, and all other functions vested in them in a manner consistent with the Master Plan and public interest to the maximum extent possible.
    Ergo, in allowing the issuance of a coastal use permit for this project, the CPRA has evidently found that the project is consistent with the Master Plan as long as the permittee follows the conditions established by the CPRA’s staff of highly qualified engineers and coastal scientists.

    Thus, there are two possible scenarios for the position of the CPRA on this project.
    1. The project – with conditions – is actually consistent with the Master Plan, or
    2. Even though the project will adversely affect the restoration project, the CPRA has found it expedient to approve it anyway.

    There may be other elements of the project which justify rescinding the coastal use permit, but unless CPRA changes its position, inconsistency with the Master Plan is not one of them.

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