This is a call for immediate action. Please read below, view the photos, share with your networks, and call your legislators asap.Many of you have heard that there is an assault underway in the Louisiana State legislature by the oil and gas industry to derail a lawsuit seeking to hold the industry accountable for the devastating damages it has caused to Louisiana wetlands. While the industry is clearly not the only cause of wetland destruction, it is a major cause and should be held accountable. Statements by industry representatives themselves admit to the industry’s culpability. In fact, even Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan blames much of the wetland destruction on the oil and gas industry. To view a timeline of internal oil and gas industry memos, as well as laws, legal decisions, and enforcement actions relating to industry activities over the last several decades, Click HereDespite those admissions of guilt, certain members of the legislature and Governor Jindal are carrying water for the industry and attempting to shield the industry from any liability. It should come as no surprise that many of those legislators have direct ties to the industry. If successful, the oil and gas industry will put a choke-hold on justice by preventing the people of Louisiana from having their day in Court. We cannot allow this to happen.The lawsuit in question is not an attempt to stop drilling in Louisiana or the Gulf as some have been misled to believe by statements made by certain oil industry lobbyists. The lawsuit is merely an attempt to collect damages from those companies that have broken the law by violating their permit agreements and in so doing caused serious harm to our natural storm defense system, thereby putting our communities at an ever-increasing risk for catastrophic storm damages. Below you will find staggering, dramatic, and irrefutable evidence of these damages in a slideshow of aerial photos that I have recently taken. Thanks to Southwings.org for providing the aerial support needed to capture these images. Please share these photos widely. As you view each photo, please be sure to read the description where I have included actual permit language and the name of the company/permitee. The photos match some of the permits issued over the years that are located within the territory that falls under the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East’s jurisdiction. These are very damning photos indeed and are precisely why the industry does not want to go to court. Be sure to enlarge the slideshow and as pictures appear click Show Info for descriptions.https://www.flickr.com/photos/healthygulf/sets/72157643594038754/Please read on for further important information:Now that you have viewed the photos, please make an immediate call to your legislators at the numbers below and demand that they oppose Senate Bill 553 and House Bill 862. The time to call is NOW as the assault is already underway. Please use the talking points below and feel free to add any of your own. You can also call any of the members at their district offices or even stop by in person. The important thing is to make your voice heard. After you have made your calls, please share this information with your networks, social media etc. and implore others to make calls as well. Together we can make a difference.OPPOSE SB 533 (Adley):Call the Louisiana Senate Switchboard: 225-342-2040MESSAGE:This bill threatens the ability of flood protection authorities to hire attorneys to defend their rights and protect the interests of Louisiana citizens. To remove these entities’ critical power to defend their interests in court is to cripple their ability to fulfill their responsibilities. This puts our levees and the communities behinf those levees at increased risk and is unacceptable.Additional TALKING POINTS:” It is NOT contrary to public policy for a Flood Protection Authority charged with protecting Louisiana communities from hurricane flooding to hire attorneys to protect Louisiana communities from hurricane flooding.” SLFPA-E’s mission is “to ensure the physical and operational integrity of the regional flood risk management system, and to work with local, regional, state, and federal partners to plan, design, and construct projects that will reduce the probability and risk of flooding for the residents within our jurisdiction.”o To achieve that mission, SLFPA-E concluded that an unfunded coastal restoration plan would not protect Louisiana citizens from flooding. SLFPA-E concluded that to achieve its mission it needed to secure funding from parties who are responsible for the destruction of the Louisiana coast.o For the legislature to charge SLFPA-E with protecting Louisiana residents from flooding and at the same time take away SLFPA-E’s ability to protect Louisiana residents from flooding is a recipe for another Katrina.” This bill will kill the SLFPA-E lawsuit that seeks to obtain funding for coastal restoration projects that protect Louisiana from hurricanes. Without this critical funding, Louisiana’s coast will continue to recede and expose south Louisiana communities to increased risk of destruction from hurricanes.” This bill makes the hiring of attorneys dependent on first obtaining approval from the Governor, Attorney General, and the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.o Flood Protection Authorities were created specifically to remove political interference and this bill would re-inject political levers that plagued flood protection for decades.o Making defense of rights a matter of politics is a recipe for favoritism.” Flood Protection Authorities represent the rights and interests of Louisiana citizens. If you remove the power of these entities to sue to defend these rights and interests, the rights and interests of citizens will not be defended.” Where agreements to represent entities are subject to the political whims of whatever Governor is in office, there becomes inconsistent ability of Flood Protection Authorities to enforce the rights of Louisiana citizens.” Contingency Fee Agreements: This bill makes it harder for Flood Protection Authorities to engage attorneys on a “contingency fee” basis. But there are times when it is advantageous for Louisiana citizens to have attorney “contingency” agreements in which private attorneys do not get paid unless they create a benefit to Louisiana citizens.” Flood Protection Authorities should not face obstacles when their rights are compromised because they are exercising the public’s rights on behalf of the public.o Louisiana citizens should never face additional roadblocks to getting their day in court.” This bill provides that contracts that have already been lawfully entered into are now declared null and void because they were not approved by the Governor.” This bill makes Flood Protection Authorities subject to the same rules as state agencies despite the fact that Flood Protection Authorities were intended to be independent political subdivisions.” This bill gives the Governor veto power to prevent the Flood Protection Authorities from hiring the attorneys the Governor doesn’t like.” This bill undermines the political independence that was so important to the legislature when the Flood Protection Authorities were originally created after Hurricane Katrina.o Voters overwhelmingly supported reform when they approved a 2006 bill establishing the independent Flood Authorities.OPPOSE HOUSE BILL 862 (Robideaux)Call Your Representative at the House Switchboard: 225-342-6945MESSAGE: This is the ultimate “Big Brother” bill. It totally flies in the face of the belief that government closest to the people is able to serve the people best. This gives the state, and the Department of Natural Resources specifically, the ability to control local government’s ability to enforce their laws. DNR is conflicted in having this responsibility. Their mission is to protect and conserve the states resources as well as promote the oil and gas industry.Further, the leadership of DNR has been a revolving door of oil and gas executives and they are chronically underfunded. Under the state’s constitution, the body established to be a neutral party to adjudicate the rights of people is the court system. The courts should decide these cases and local governments should be free to use the court system to protect their citizens and their property.Please vote no on HB 862!———————————The people of south Louisiana, including New Orleans, cannot afford to wait for funding that simply does not exist to finance a Plan for protection and restoration that will cost at least $50 billion dollars. Louisiana has lost 1900 square miles of vital storm protection since the 1930’s. For every 3-4 miles of wetlands that we lose that is another foot of storm surge that we cannot stop from penetrating our communities during a tropical storm or hurricane. There is consensus even from industry insiders that at least 30% of that land loss is directly attributable to the activities of the oil and gas industry. Some experts put that figure as high as 80%. Those legislators doing the bidding of the industry cannot rebut the images you have seen.Thank you!Jonathan Henderson is the Coastal Resiliency Organizer for GRN.