"NEW ORLEANS -- Flying over southeast Louisiana, it's easy to see human fingerprints on what's left of the wetlands below."
"Marshes have been slashed by straight-edge canals, pipelines and trappers' lines. In many areas, banks of dredged muck piled along canals are all that's left of coastal prairies. Many other canals have vanished entirely as wetlands eroded into open water.
The oil and gas industry, which owns about 80 percent of Louisiana's coast, has carved 10,000 miles of canals in the marshes. While scientists debate the scope of industry's role in the state's loss of 1,900 square miles of land over the last century, few dispute that it has had one.
Now, a government panel created to oversee protective levees here in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has filed a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies that aims to force them to repair or pay for the damage they caused to the marshes."