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Protesters call for Shell to pay La. $362 million

Times-Picayune

Protesters call for Shell to pay La. $362 million

But oil firm defends coast restoration efforts
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
By Mark Schleifstein

Carrying signs in a driving rainstorm demanding that Shell Oil Co. “fix the coast you broke,” about 25 environmental activists on Tuesday attempted to deliver a bill for $362 million to the corporation’s New Orleans headquarters.

At a news conference inside the offices of the Gulf Restoration Network, the activists called for Shell to pay the money to the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Trust Fund, where it could be added to other offshore drilling revenue to help rebuild wetlands and build levees.

A Shell spokeswoman defended the company’s actions on behalf of coastal restoration, both as the “world sponsor” of the America’s WETLAND campaign and through its share of offshore oil revenues paid to the federal government that is passed on to Louisiana.

“Shell believes the best solution to help with coastal preservation and assist the states and community that support oil and gas production is Outer Continental Shelf federal revenue sharing,” Shell spokeswoman Darci Sinclair said.

The 2006 Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which Shell supported, will provide 37.5 percent of royalty revenue from new leases in federal waters to four Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana.

The $362 million bill was based on a search of state records that indicated Shell has dredged 22,000 acres of wetlands for placement or maintenance of pipeline canals and other oil and gas production facilities since 1983. Such dredging has contributed to erosion of the coast, leaving the region more vulnerable to hurricanes.

“It’s in their own self-interest to do this,” said filmmaker Walter Williams, the creator of the Mr. Bill clay character. “These projects will protect their oil and gas infrastructure, and without that protection, who knows what their long-term liability will be.”

Brenda Dardar-Robichaux, principal chief of the United Houma Nations, said it’s long past time for oil companies like Shell to recompense her people for the damage done to both storm protection and fisheries.

Others participating in the demonstration were Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Mike Lane, publisher of RodNReel.com, a recreational fishing Web site.

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Mark Schleifstein can be reached at [email protected] or 504.826.3327.

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