BATON ROUGE, La. – While Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was in the nation’s capital last Saturday contemplating “a hostile takeover of Washington D.C.,” residents in his own state began a peaceful 155-mile walk from Grand Isle to the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge to show support for a lawsuit that would hold the oil and gas industry responsible for damages to the Louisiana coastline.
Walkers carried with them water from the Gulf of Mexico, with stops planned along the route to meet and continue the journey with walkers carrying water from Abita Springs, Bayou Corne, the Mississippi River and other endangered waterways.
On Saturday, July 28, at noon, walkers will be joined by citizens from across the state who will ‘Flood Into Baton Rouge’ and deliver their troubled waters to Governor Bobby Jindal. Residents will tell the story of their water – whether rising, threatened or poisoned – and ceremonially dump that water on the Governor’s doorstep.
These protesters decry Governor Bobby Jindal’s signing of Louisiana State Senate Bill 469, which not only could kill the lawsuit, but could also jeopardize billions of dollars in state and coastal parish claims pending against BP related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and damage to the environment that occurred when an estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico in the spring of 2010.
Governor Jindal signed the bill into law earlier this month, in spite objections of Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and more than 100 legal scholars across the United States.
The group is walking in support of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East Board lawsuit, and is carrying water inland to Baton Rouge to symbolize the rising waters faced by coastal communities due to damages inflicted by decades of environmental degradation by the oil and gas industry. The levee board’s lawsuit was filed in order to force 97 oil and gas companies to repair decades worth of damage they have inflicted upon Louisiana’s waterways.
Concerns for the quality of water across the state have led citizens to come together to send a strong message to Governor Jindal.
“Bobby Jindal’s reckless disregard for the people of this state borders on the criminal, particularly since it appears to be driven by his quest for the presidency and the courting of the deep pockets of the industry to finance that campaign,” resident Mike Stagg said in a press release announcing the protest.
Plans to frack for oil in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale above the aquifer in St. Tammany Parish – where it is the sole source of drinking water for several hundred thousand residents living north of Lake Pontchartrain – have galvanized citizens to oppose the industry, fearing the irrevocable pollution of their water supply with no course of action available to them.
Groundwater supplies in the communities of Gran Bois, Mossville, Lake Peigneur, Ironton, Bayou Corne and others have either been contaminated or are threatened imminently by contamination from a variety of industrial activity.
Louisiana resident Cherri Foytlin described the walk from Grand Isle and “Flood Into Baton Rouge” as the start of a new era in Louisiana.
“This is a people-led movement emanating from an unprecedented groundswell in our state,” she said. “Those who bring water will tell their stories to the press and to each other to commemorate this new day in Louisiana politics, one that is truly by the people and for the people to protect ourselves and those who come after us.”
Jenna deBoisblanc, a New Orleans resident, said Governor Jindal has “dumped on the people of Louisiana by signing this bill into law. We are going to return the favor and ‘Flood into Baton Rouge.’”
For additional details on the walk, pictures and information on “Flood into Baton Rouge,” please visit “The Oil Is Still Here and So Are We” on Facebook.
© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.