Poll Shows Residents Favor Oil Companies Paying for Damages to Louisiana Wetlands

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Louisiana Wetlands

Louisiana Wetlands

An overwhelming majority of residents along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, 93 percent, say that oil, gas and pipeline companies — not taxpayers — should pay to fix the damage to the coastal wetlands the oil companies are responsible for, according to a scientific public opinion survey conducted by Dr. Silas Lee and Associates.

The survey also found that 96 percent agree the loss of coastal wetlands is an issue that needs to be addressed and 72 percent say that oil and gas industry activity contributed to the loss of wetlands leading to flooding like what happened during Hurricane Katrina.

More than three-fourths of respondents, 77 percent, believe that the oil and gas industry impacts marine, animal and plant life in the region, and 74 percent do not want the Louisiana Legislature to intervene and stop a lawsuit and prefer the courts to decide if the oil, gas and pipeline companies damaged the coast and how much damage to coastal Louisiana they are responsible for.

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed a lawsuit in July against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies to hold these firms responsible for the damage they have done to coastal wetlands, south Louisiana’s first line of defense against storm surge flooding. The Flood Protection Authority alleged that because of the coastal erosion caused by the activities of oil, gas and pipeline companies, the cost of maintaining and building levees and floodwalls increased substantially.

In metro New Orleans, 86 percent of the public favor the courts deciding the issue, while only 33 percent of those polled across coastal Louisiana and only 22 percent in metro New Orleans have confidence that the oil and gas companies will voluntarily restore the wetlands in which they drilled.

The respondents also indicated a lack of trust in the state political administration to manage rebuilding the wetlands. Only 15 percent trust the administration in the rebuilding process compared to 68 percent who said they trust an independent non-political board composed of scientists and engineers.

In the scientific poll of a demographically representative sample commissioned by Restore Louisiana Now, Dr. Lee surveyed 1,000 residents of 20 south Louisiana parishes, including metro New Orleans and East Baton Rouge Parish by land line and mobile phones October 23 through November 5. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus three percent.

Restore Louisiana Now Inc. is a recently established independent advocacy organization that partners with community, business and government groups to protect and preserve the land, water, livelihoods and culture for future generations. The group was founded by historian and former commissioner John Barry and includes a board of directors that includes Sandy Rosenthal, founder of Levees.org, award winning filmmaker Walter Williams, Judge Calvin Johnson (retired) and Al Sunseri, past president of the Louisiana Oyster Dealers and Growers Association and a member of Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation.

© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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