LSU Press Book Explores the Tension Between Energy Development and the Louisiana Land-Loss Crisis
BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Gulf Coast supplies nearly one-third of America’s oil and gas, accounts for half of the country’s refining capacity, and contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. Although the state is home to only 40 percent of the nation’s wetland acreage, 80 percent of the United States’ wetland loss currently occurs on Louisiana’s coast. The inevitable collision of these two forces – the thriving oil and gas industry and the environmentalist mission to restore coastal Louisiana – is the subject of LSU alumnus Jason P. Theriot’s book, “American Energy, Imperiled Coast,” available now from LSU Press.
Theriot’s book offers an engaging analysis of the impressive and destructive engineering feats that characterized industrial growth in the region and the mounting environmental problems that threaten South Louisiana’s communities, culture, and “working” coast. Theriot pieces together decades of political, economic, social, and cultural undertakings that clashed in the 1980s and 1990s, when local citizens, scientists, politicians, environmental groups, and oil and gas interests began fighting over the causes and consequences of coastal land loss. The mission to restore coastal Louisiana ultimately came into conflict with the perceived economic necessity of expanding offshore oil and gas development at the turn of the 21st century.
From the discovery of oil and gas below the marshes around coastal salt domes in the 1920s and 1930s to the vast repercussions of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, “American Energy, Imperiled Coast” ultimately reveals that the natural and man-made forces responsible for rapid environmental change in Louisiana’s wetlands over the past century can only be harnessed through collaboration between public and private entities.
Theriot, an energy and environmental consultant and former Energy Policy Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, earned a doctorate in history from the University of Houston and a degree in journalism from LSU. He lives in Houston with his wife and two children.