As he announced Tuesday the formation of the organization Restore Louisiana Now, John Barry said a key motivation was public opposition to political meddling in the local levee authority’s lawsuit against oil and gas companies, a strategy the Jindal Administration has promised to use.

John Barry says Restore Louisiana Now will focus on lawsuit againts oil and gas companies.
John Barry says Restore Louisiana Now will focus on lawsuit againts oil and gas companies. Credit: Bob Marshall, The Lens

And Barry, the new group’s president, had a new statewide poll to support his point.

“By a margin of more than three to one, respondents do not want the Legislature to intervene to stop the suit,” Barry said of a poll conducted by Dr. Silas Lee and Associates. “They don’t want politicians to step in to serve their own interests. They want the courts to decide. And that’s all we want.”

Barry, who lost his seat on the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East board because of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s opposition to the suit, said the major immediate goals of Restore, a not-for-profit 501(C)(4), would be to lobby legislators to defeat efforts by the Jindal Administration and the energy industry to kill the suit. It would also become involved in efforts to support the state’s coastal-restoration efforts.

He said the results of the poll provided evidence the public was behind his organization’s efforts. Key findings included:

  • 75 percent of respondents listed protecting wetlands from coastal restoration as a key concern, ranking just 1 percentage point behind “quality of education” as the chief concern.
  • 77 percent of respondents across demographic groups believed drilling activities hurt marine, animal and plant life in their region.
  • 60 percent of respondents had heard about the lawsuit.
  • Nearly two-third had little to no confidence that the oil and gas industry would voluntarily repair damage it had done to wetlands.

Barry was joined at the announcement by fellow Restore board members Sandy Rosenthal, founder of, and Walter Williams, an award-winning writer and filmmaker. Barry said other board members include retired Criminal District Court Judge Calvin Johnson (who also serves as chairman of The Lens’ Board of Directors) and oysterman Al Sunseri, past president of the Louisiana Oyster Dealers and Growers Association and a member of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation.

Bob Marshall

From 2013 to 2017, Bob Marshall covered environmental issues for The Lens, with a special focus on coastal restoration and wetlands. While at The Times-Picayune, his work chronicling the people, stories...