"The industrial pipeline's backdrop of swampland and twisted trees is a cameo of subtropical ecology that functions like a sponge for effluents from petrochemical waste. Since the 1930's, oil companies have routed an estimated twenty-six thousand miles of pipeline throughout the oil-laden Southern parishes and across the Southern coastal wetlands. A web of canals has been cut through pastures and marshlands. The resulting erosion has been striking, with an area of wetlands the size of Delaware swallowed by the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf's salty tides have swept into the submerged pipeline arteries, killing marshland grasses by seeping into roots of the flora on the soft canal bottoms. Some scientists are convinced that if the erosion is not halted, advancing waters will eventually engulf New Orleans."