Chris John: Barry distorted issues on coastal damage

10 11, 2016 by The Advocate

It is difficult to decide where first to begin in response to John Barry’s latest rambling in The Advocate. I suppose it makes sense to begin where he erroneously calls out my association, the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association and a 1989 report we commissioned and issued. This isn’t the first time Barry has made this claim or fabricated conversations with industry. My aim is to make it his last.

The actual point of the study mentioned had nothing to do with Barry’s assertion. As a matter of fact, the study expressly outlines, “This study did not compare wetland loss rates in channelized and non-channelized reference areas.”

Simply put, Barry made a disingenuous attempt to link LMOGA’s unrelated statements and study to his coastal claims and tried to insert them as something pertinent to his now three-time-defeated idea — once in the legislature, in Judge Nannette Brown’s ruling to dismiss the lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East in the Eastern District, and most recently, in Judge Stephen Enright’s decision in Jefferson Parish. A historian of Barry’s caliber ought to know better than to cherry-pick “evidence” in an effort to support a preconceived claim.

In fact, the oil and gas industry is Louisiana’s No. 1 private investor in the state’s environment and coast. The only entity that invests more is the federal government. For decades, the energy industry has contributed millions of dollars and countless hours on environmental projects across south Louisiana. Starting in 2017, the industry will begin contributing up to $200 million a year to support additional projects.

These are real investments that can move us toward everyone’s goal of restoring our coast. However, this growth can only occur if we travel a path that emphasizes collaboration with the industry, not fighting it.

To not acknowledge the strides made and the oil and gas industry being the largest funding source for coastal restoration in Louisiana is preposterous and inexcusable and may even be indicative of his true motives, none of which appear to be coastal rehabilitation. As we have said time and time again, Mr. Barry’s support of litigation undermines opportunities to preserve the coast, and no amount of sour grapes can change that.

Chris John

president, Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association

Baton Rouge