New York Times on "the most ambitious environmental lawsuit ever"

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John Barry. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • John Barry.
In this week's New York Times Magazine, Nathaniel Rich explores Louisiana's march into the sea, and "the most ambitious environmental lawsuit ever" filed by "the most unlikely of antagonists," John Barry. Barry — Gambit's 2013 New Orleanian of the Year and the 2014 King of Krewe du Vieux — is an expert on flood control policy and formerly sat on the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) board. He led the lawsuit in question against 97 oil and gas companies to hold them accountable for their role in the pipeline-scarred coastal land loss over the last century.

Rich pitches Louisiana's coastal land loss in a way the magazine's namesake might take notice.
Were this rate of land loss applied to New York, Central Park would disappear in a month. Manhattan would vanish within a year and a half. The last of Brooklyn would dissolve four years later. New Yorkers would notice this kind of land loss. The world would notice this kind of land loss. But the hemorrhaging of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands has gone largely unremarked upon beyond state borders
Following the suit, Barry was not nominated for another term on the board, and Gov. Bobby Jindal led legislation to kill the lawsuit. Jindal declined comment on the New York Times story. Barry — as Clancy DuBos had predicted — spoke freely with Rich about the genesis of the lawsuit during his time on the board and Jindal's plan to ensure the lawsuit's (and Barry's) failure:
During [the 2014 Louisiana Legislative session], about 70 lobbyists from the oil and gas industry were in the legislative chambers. They worked in concert with the governor’s staff to secure support for a bill that would void the lawsuit. “They turned on the fire hose,” one veteran energy lobbyist said. “It was the best organized effort I have ever seen,” another said.
Rich also asked state Sen. Robert Adley, a longtime oil and gas employee who opposed the lawsuit, whether his position was a conflict of interest, and Adley put that on his voters: "They know what industry I’m in. They choose to send me there." He later added that the lawsuit and Barry's fight are merely for Barry's upcoming book.

Rich also wrote about Louisiana's disappearing self for The New Republic published earlier this week.


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