Louisiana’s people and property fared better under Hurricane Gustav than had been feared, but acres of valuable wetlands were likely irrevocably destroyed. “The last thing on anyone’s mind during a hurricane is how the wetlands are going to do,” says activist Aaron Giles. But since happy and healthy wetlands act as storm barriers, “wetlands are a critical piece of keeping coastal Louisiana safe.” Heavy storms toss around fauna in marshes and deposit saltwater where it ain’t supposed to be. Louisiana’s wetlands have been severely eroded by natural disaster and development; some estimates hold that healthier wetlands could have knocked Gustav’s 12-foot tidal surge down by three feet. The hurricane shut down oil production in the Gulf of Mexico but caused no structural damage or spills on offshore platforms, leading President Bush to reiterate Tuesday, “This storm should not cause members of the Congress to say, ‘Well, we don’t need to address our energy independence.’ We need more domestic energy. One place to find it is offshore America.”