In coastal Louisiana, a two-lane highway has become a symbol of how climate change threatens America’s energy and economic security.

Louisiana Highway One is the main road to Port Fourchon on the Gulf of Mexico. Eighteen percent of the nation’s oil supply travels along this highway – a road that’s being swallowed by the sea.

The reasons are complex. Much of the land is subsiding. Combine that with rising sea levels, and you have an incredibly vulnerable region.

Falgout: “Louisiana is losing a football field of marsh every forty-five minutes. That’s how rapid this land loss is happening. And you see the tide coming closer to the top of the road every year.”

That’s Ted Falgout, former director of Port Fourchon. Studies predict that by the year 2030, the highway will be underwater at least half the time.

Falgout: “In order to have access to this major energy facility, it makes the most sense to build an elevated highway.”

And that’s exactly what’s happening – costing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. It’s a big number, but less than the billions of dollars the nation would lose if Port Fourchon were shut down – even temporarily.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Highway One, following Hurricane Isaac in 2012 (Source: National Ocean Service, NOAA.

More Resources
National Climate Assessment: Southeast
National climate change report says effects on Louisiana will be significant, costly
La. Highway 1 vulnerable to storm surge
Testimony to Senate Energy and Resources Committee, Ted Falgout
Louisiana Highway 1/Port Fourchon Study

Julia Kumari Drapkin

Julia Kumari Drapkin founded ISeeChange after a decade of reporting natural disasters and climate change across the globe and in her own backyard on the Gulf Coast. She is the founder of ISeeChange, a...