HGS E & E - Geology, Law and Coastal Change

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Total Seats: 45 Reserved: 31
 Registration is closed for this event

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Black Lab Pub, Churchill Room • 4100 Montrose Blvd.
Social 5:30 p.m., Dinner 6:30 p.m.

Cost: $30 Pre-registered members; $35 non-members & ALL walk-ups (Credit Cards Now Accepted)
$15 Emeritus/Life/Honorary; Students: FREE
To guarantee a seat, you must pre-register on the HGS website and pay with a credit card.  You may walk up and pay at the door if extra seats are available.  Please cancel by phone or email within 24 hours before the event for a refund. Monday scheduled HGS meetings need to be cancelled the Friday before by 2pm.  Online & pre-registration closes Wednesday, January 13, at 5:00 a.m.

If you are an active or associate member who is unemployed and would like to attend HGS meetings, please call the office for a discounted price. We are looking for one extra member to volunteer at the registration desk as well.

Speaker:  Mr. Kelly M. Haggar

Geology, Law and Coastal Change

Coastal change is unlikely to require new law but properly dealing with its effects and planning our response to them will require more than just a good understanding of present law.  Statutes rest on fundamental - - but often unstated - - societal assumptions favoring some outcomes and denying others.  For example, Western societies presume land should remain in commerce and always be productive. 

Virtually all of the major cases and controversies concerning water and/or coastal issues arising around the nation in recent years - - property damage and land loss during hurricanes due to  exploration and production (E & P) canals, increased expenses to levee boards from a subset of those same E & P canals, diversions affecting oyster beds, beach front lot owners objecting to beach restoration projects,  Anthropogenic Climate Change causing increasing hurricane damage - - were all resolved by applying existing law.  Many of those laws are not just based upon Roman laws going back over 2000 years; some are almost word-for-word copies of them. 

Unfortunately, much of the general public either does not understand the basic principles of land use and tort or perhaps simply wishes for different outcomes despite existing (and well-settled) laws.  Worse, there does not seem to be sufficient appreciation of the underlying geological factors driving changes in and along our coasts, marshes, and swamps.

Law as an institution has never attempted to "control nature" per se but it most assuredly attempts to specify and control who gains and who loses - - and why - - when a river changes course, when new land forms at the beach, and when a dispute breaks out as to "What is a beach?" and "Who owns it?"

A general overview of the major cases and an explanation of why they turned out as they did will better enable coastal planners to find - - and stay within - - more realistic limits of what can and cannot be accomplished within the framework of our existing laws.  Moreover, if American society does determine a new direction in coastal programs is needed, a fuller understanding of current law will likely allow better choices to be consciously made.  However, since law can only help illuminate the choices and assign the risks to various parties, ultimately geology  - - not law - - is the key to future decisions about our coastlines.


(Mr.) Kelly M. Haggar earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Louisiana State University in 1973 and a commission in the USAF on scholarship in the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps.  While on active duty, he earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma in 1987; his thesis was on the Legal Services Corp.  He served in the USAF as a B-52 pilot and flight safety officer from 1974 to 1994.  After retiring from the USAF, he joined Riparian, Inc., a small wetland services company in Slidell, La.  Riparian had been founded by a 19 year veteran of the oil patch (Chevron and Greenhill; Master’s Geology, Tulane 1978) who later earned a second MS in Biology (Ecological; Southeastern, 2000).  Thus, he operated in a geology-enhanced company environment while helping to delineate and permit thousands of acres of wetlands in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  In 2002, he was admitted to LSU law school, where he was selected for law review.  His not-yet-published paper on a divorce problem resulted in a change in the law on the treatment of goodwill before graduation and admission to the bar in 2005.  As a result, the interaction between wetlands, geology, and law combined with lessons learned in flight safety and aircraft engineering to produce this briefing series on coastal change and the legal affects flowing from it.

January 13th, 2016 5:30 PM   through   7:00 PM
HGS Member $ 30.00
Non-Member $ 35.00
Emeritus/Life/Honorary $ 15.00
Student $ 0.00
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Contact Matthew Cowan
Contact Phone (713) 777-0534
contact Email mrcowan1@hal-pc.org

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