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Protesters March from Grand Isle to Governor's Mansion

by Chris Staudinger

Protests continue in the wake of the passage of SB469.  A group began a 155-mile walk from Grand Isle over the weekend. They expect to make about twenty miles each day and reach Baton Rouge at 1pm on Saturday, June 29.  Under the moniker “Flood into Baton Rouge,” the group has collected two gallons of water from the Gulf of Mexico and will carry them on their backs to the Governor’s mansion.


Jenna DeBoisblanc, one of the marchers, said in a press release, “Governor Jindal has dumped on the people of Louisiana by signing this bill into law.  We’re going to return the favor with Flood into Baton Rouge.”


The bill in question was a priority of the Jindal administration this legislative session.  It limits the ability of a local levee board (SLFPA-E) to bring legal action against certain parties.  SFLPA-E had filed lawsuits against about 100 oil and gas companies for the channels they dredged to lay and access energy infrastructure. Last week, the local levee board that filed the suit took a vote to kill the suit, but did not have enough votes to throw it out.


The marchers write in a press release, “The controversial bill not only exempts oil and gas companies from liability for decades of non-compliance with state law and permits governing wetlands restoration, but also jeopardizes billions of dollars in state and coastal parish claims pending against BP from the 2010 Macando well explosion.” 


Twenty legal scholars and a judge signed an open letter to Governor Jindal warning him that SB469 could hinder pending government lawsuits against BP and others.  


Cherri Foytlin helped organize Flood into Baton Rouge.  In 2010, she walked 1,243 miles from New Orleans to Washington D.C. to increase awareness of citizens’ struggles during the BP spill.  She calls recent rancor over 469 “an unprecedented groundswell in our state.”  


Also unprecedented, they say, is the subsidence and sea level rise at their starting point on Grand Isle.  They cite new data from NOAA, which “found that Grand Isle is sinking at a faster rate than any place in the United States and among the most dramatic worldwide.”


DeBoisblanc said that looking out from the Leeville Bridge was experiencing “coastal degradation at its max.”  NOAA projects that in 23 years, water will render LA-1 impassable 30 days out of the year.  By 2066 they expect it will be submerged year-round.


photos via Flood Into Baton Rouge:

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