The Los Angeles Times reports that "every two weeks, a swath of Louisiana the size of this city's French Quarter vanishes into the Gulf of Mexico. Since the 1930s, the state has lost nearly 1,900 square miles, a quarter of its coastal land area."
"For decades, oil and gas companies cut canals through fragile wetlands with the state's approval to haul equipment and install pipelines. But scientists say the dredging let salt water flow in, killing vegetation that kept the land from eroding."
"Without the buffer of these marshes and barrier islands, Louisiana's many low-lying coastal communities — and its biggest city — now have little natural protection from storm surges created by hurricanes."
"The cost of rebuilding the defenses is estimated at $50 billion or more, but so far, there's little money for it. Last summer, the independent board that oversees flood protection for New Orleans decided that oil and gas companies should pay their share. In a move that roiled a state where the energy industry is the economic foundation, the board voted unanimously to sue all 97 companies operating in the state for unspecified damages."