Conclusion: Relationship to Coastal Loss and Restoration, and the Future for the Louisiana Environment

Though there are many problems facing the state of Louisiana and its people and natural areas, one pressing problem stands to leave the state in a position of severe ruin if it is not dealt with appropriately. The southern coastal areas of Louisiana, commonly referred to as bayous, are continuing to experience a loss of land, which is being replaced by watery areas. This area loses land at a rate of 25-35 square miles per year, with projections for 2050 suggesting a loss of another 1000 square miles (11). Many factors have contributed to this intrusion of the sea, including subsidence, canals constructed for oil barges, loss of barrier islands, and lack of stable wetlands. One chief culprit, however, is the diversion of the Mississippi River, which has limited the effectiveness of its sedimentation by causing it to go into the Gulf of Mexico, where it is not needed. There is much that needs to be done in order to fix this problem.
In his book Bayou Farewell, author Mike Tidwell describes his journey to the backwaters of Louisiana, where the true measure of the coastal loss is being felt. Tidwell describes the conditions and lifestyles of the local people of this region, and the unique indigenous Cajun culture which they live by. He also describes a feeling of hopelessness that these people have when they think about the problem at hand. Finally, Tidwell mentions some of the efforts that have been devised to correct the problem. Among them, he includes diversion of the Mississippi again to bring its water back to the Terrabonne and Barataria bays, where it is needed. The Louisiana government has provided $40 million per year to rebuild the estuaries of the area, but Tidwell mentions that the full-scale plan, including diversion of the Mississippi, would cost $14 billion over 50 years. Tidwell estimates that not enacting this plan, however, would be even more devastating, at $100 billion over the same time period (24). This is not the only proposed solution, but it gives one an idea of how serious the problem is in Louisiana, and the scale of projects that would be needed to fix it. Though the oil companies cannot be expected to fund all of this bill, their contributions to the problem have been explained in my paper. In order to display corporate responsibility to the local people whose livelihood depends on the wetlands, it is imperative that oil companies and other corporations in Louisiana as well step forward and work with the government and the local people to ensure that something is done to solve this problem. There are many ways for the people and industry to work together to help save their coast, and it all starts with cooperation and responsibility.


Click here to see the paper I have written about Corporate Responsibilty of Oil Companies in Louisiana. Other suggestions for
research can be seen here.