Two years after the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority–East hired Jones Swanson to file a lawsuit against nearly 100 oil, gas and pipeline companies for damaging Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, a group of South Louisiana landowners hired the firm to file its own case against two of the nation’s biggest pipeline companies.
The case—Vintage Assets, Inc. v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., LLC and Southern Natural Gas Co. LLC—highlights the role that pipeline companies have played in causing the state’s land loss crisis. Every hour, a football field’s worth of Louisiana land disappears into the Gulf of Mexico.
Even industry scientists have reported that pipeline activities cause a significant percentage of that land loss. According to Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, there are more than 125,000 miles of pipelines running across the state.
Plaintiffs in the Vintage case granted pipeline companies permission to dredge canals decades ago, but those agreements contained certain restrictions and are subject to certain obligations to maintain the canals. Once they dredged the canals, however, the pipeline companies in the suit did nothing to stop them from widening and causing the surrounding land to erode. Over time, the canals changed the natural hydrology of the land, and, eventually, created tracts of open water.
The Vintage case was initially filed in Plaquemines Parish. It is now in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.