Freeport Settled Up, but Coastal Damage Will Be Around for Years

Freeport Settled Up

Photo by Brett Duke,

When the news broke that minerals giant Freeport McMoRan agreed to a $100 million settlement with 12 coastal parishes for destroying wetlands, Louisiana’s coastal restoration community cheered. They’d been failing for decades to get oil and gas companies to pay for the damage they did to our coast — damage that has helped push the southern third of the state to the brink of extinction. This was their first victory, so I could understand the high-fives.

But the story also made me think of families that lose loved ones to drunk drivers — especially repeat offenders. Sure, the families sometimes get settlements in the millions, and the driver might go to jail for a few years. But the victim is still dead and the family never recovers from a permanent loss while the perpetrator, after paying fines, can just drive away.

Likewise, Freeport will pay a penalty, while the state will continue to suffer the impacts from that damage forever.

That analogy felt even stronger when hearing this self-serving comment from a Freeport rep: “While we believe the plaintiffs’ theories of liability are unfounded, we recognize the importance of coastal restoration regardless of its cause. As a result, we decided to make an early investment in a creative solution rather than continue to engage in years of litigation.”

And this claim by the industry’s Louisiana lobbyists: “This misguided effort to go back in time and rewrite history amounts to an all-out legal attack on the entire regulatory framework through which oil and gas operations have been conducted for nearly a century.”

Those statements are filled with factual errors and convenient omissions, no surprise coming from this industry on this issue.

So let’s go over some facts, and you can decide what’s fair and just.

Read the rest of the article at The Times-Picayune.