05/23/2014 10:55 AM
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
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.
Posted on Friday, May 23, 2014