By John Guidroz
Members of several environmental and health groups gathered in the lobby of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office on Wednesday, protesting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline project and asking him to at least do an environmental impact study.
Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, spoke about the project’s projected impact, along with the lack of job opportunities available for state residents. The event was streamed live on Facebook.
The $750 million project would extend the pipeline 162 miles from Lake Charles to St. James Parish and could transport up to 480,000 barrels of petroleum products per day.
“We don’t want (the pipeline), but certainly a reasonable step would be for (Edwards) to request an environmental impact statement,” she said.
Dominic Renfrey with the Center for Constitutional Rights, read a statement saying that Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics — two of the three pipeline companies involved in the project — have “very poor track records of operating pipelines in other states.”
He mentioned the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency ordering the suspension of work on the Rover Pipeline project, which is handled by ETP and Sunoco.
Alexis Daniel, spokeswoman for ETP, said in an email that the company’s goal is “to work closely with affected landowners, governments and neighboring communities.” She said ETP wants to “foster long-term relationships and build the pipeline in the safest manner possible with the smallest environmental footprint.”
Meg Logue with 350 New Orleans said residents who rely on Bayou Lafourche for drinking water weren’t aware of the project. The pipeline is set to run under the bayou.
“This is a massive project, and the community is not informed,” she said. “We feel that’s a violation of trust.”
The Bayou Bridge Pipeline website says the project “will generate about 2,500 construction jobs,” but Logue said it will only support “12 permanent jobs.” She and others voiced concerns about Louisiana residents not having access to those jobs.
Rolfes said they have been unable to meet with the governor but did meet in July with one of his aides and Matthew Block, the governor’s executive counsel. The governor’s office could not be reached for comment.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade has also made public records requests to the state Department of Natural Resources and Department of Environmental Quality because the pipeline company has been “seizing people’s property against their will,” Rolfes said.
The Bayou Bridge Pipeline website lists several local officials who are backing the project. They include the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury; state Reps. Stephen Dwight, R-Moss Bluff, Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur, Mark Abraham, R-Lake Charles, and Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings; and state Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur.