Louisiana’s Sinking Coast Is $100 Billion Nightmare for Oil

Aug. 19, 2016, 4:00 AM
The Phillips 66 oil refinery on the bank of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, near the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s Bayou Dupont Marsh and Ridge Creation.
Photograph: William Widmer/Redux

From 5,000 feet up, it’s difficult to make out where Louisiana’s coastline used to be. But follow the skeletal remains of decades-old oil canals, and you get an idea. Once, these lanes sliced through thick marshland, clearing a path for pipelines or ships. Now they are surrounded by open water, green borders still visible as the sea swallows up the shore.

The canals tell a story about the industry’s ubiquity in Louisiana history, but they also signal a grave future: $100 billion of energy infrastructure threatened by rising sea levels and erosion. As the coastline recedes, tangles of pipeline...

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