The legal documents
The answer to Plaintiff’s request for partial summary judgment
Order granting Defendant’s request for summary judgment on all issues:
Interestingly, there was no discussion of the state law removing the Levee Board’s right to sue.
East Bank levee authority to file lawsuit Wednesday aimed at getting oil, gas, pipeline firms to restore wetlands and ridges
The regional levee authority overseeing East Bank flood protection will file a lawsuit Wednesday against dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies aimed at forcing them to repair damage to a buffer zone of wetlands and ridges “that helps protect the greater New Orleans region from catastrophic flooding,” according to a press release from the agency…
Barasich v. Columbia Gulf Transmission Co. 467 F. Supp. 2d 676 (E.D. La. 2006) – This case found that LA does not allow market share liability cases.
Pretty much the usual stuff, but well presented. Most of the studies cited were done well before we had good elevation data that showed the rate of subsidence. The folks claiming that wetlands protect against surge, separate from elevation that has been lost, are not experts in weather or storm modeling.
To the extent that there are claims that permits were violated and land was not restored per contractual terms, they are likely valid. As I understand it, however, the levee district cannot make any of those claims because they are not land owners. The parishes might be able to.
To the extent that the lawsuit depends on showing that the damages to the wetlands are a cause of a major risk of flooding, I do not think the science is there. This lawsuit deals with changes over the past 60 or so years, long after the cypress was gone, and well into wetland loss from many other causes. Just looking at the land loss between the current St. Bernard lobe and the Chandeleur Islands is a pretty strong refutation of the claim that most wetlands loss is due to canals. But more importantly, there is not significant evidence that the loss of wetlands does much to affect surge. Under LA law, you have to sort out causation, and this is just a small part, if that, of an increased risk of flooding. The major risk is the simple increase in relative sea level due to subsidence and sea level rise. That is also the major cause of land loss – the land is still there, it is just underwater. Otherwise all those trees out in the water would fall over.