Bayou Bridge Pipeline: Groups Ask Governor for Environmental Impact Statement

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“The people of Louisiana have chosen hope over business as usual.”
JBE, 11.21.15

 
September 20, 2017
 
Dear Governor Edwards,
 
We write to you today to ask you to live up to your words on election night and take a very reasonable step:  request that the Army Corps of Engineers conduct an Environmental Impact Statement for Energy Transfer Partners’ proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline (MVN 2015 02265). We first submitted this request in a meeting with your counsel Matthew Block on July 20th of this year but have received no reply.  
 
There are many aspects of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline that necessitate further analysis before construction begins, including the threat to community health, increased risk of flooding and the further degradation of crawfishing areas in the Atchafalaya Basin.
 
St. James Parish is the proposed eastern end point of the pipeline, and the African American community within that parish will bear a significant burden. The Bayou Bridge Pipeline would cross Burton Rd, an essential evacuation route for St James, and will particularly impact the community of Burton Lane.  
 
The Bayou Bridge Pipeline would deter the State's restoration of wetlands in and drainage through the Atchafalaya Basin Floodway, including the Buffalo Cove Management Unit Restoration (EA #366), and the East Grand Lake Restoration (201006). The impacts to these million-dollar restoration projects must be assessed in an Environmental Impact Statement and avoided. As we send this to you, Enterprise Pipeline (MVN 2015-01668-WII) is filling the Panotec Cuts Restoration in Cocodrie Swamp (200915), a 2011 restoration project that cost $1,082,500, according to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. These pipelines are dams in the basin, and it's clear that, without the utmost care, Basin restoration will be sabotaged, and crawfishing lakes will silt in. You have stated your faith in the Department of Natural Resources to protect the state's wetlands, but the Basin remains the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers, which allows unpermitted fill of bayous and restoration cuts each year. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has a veto over the Corps via the 401 certification, and you must use it for the sake of the Basin and the restoration program. (http://data.dnr.louisiana.gov/ABP-GIS/Publications/Buffalo%20Cove%20EA.pdf
https://www.flickr.com/photos/healthygulf/37085161705/in/album-72157686311638623/
 
Energy Transfer Partners has a high accident rate at its current facilities, a rate that warrants an EIS. Data from National Response Center reports details that Energy Transfer Partners and its Sunoco subsidiaries have had 69 accidents in a two year span. The company is also having serious problems with construction of its pipelines in other parts of the country, including the Rover and Mariner East pipelines.
 
The North Dakota Public Service Commission has issued violations during construction of the Dakota Access pipeline (https://psc.nd.gov/database/documents/14-0842/337-020.pdfhttps://psc.nd.gov/database/documents/14-0842/337-020.pdf )
 

  • The company violated the spill prevention plan during construction. (p. 25)
     
  • There were 4 instances where the company re-routed the pipeline without having notified the commission. (p. 2, 3-6)
     
  • The report also notes debris left on the right of way, unsafe work practices, silt fences in disrepair, and not being compliant with the North Dakota Department of Health Environmental Section guidelines. (p. 2)

 
The twelve permanent jobs that Energy Transfer Partners promises are outweighed by the risks, including the harm to families whose living is crawfishing in the Basin, as well as families whose health has suffered as fossil fuel industry has proliferated in their neighborhoods. An Environmental Impact Statement is a reasonable step.
 
We thank you for your consideration. Given the plans to rapidly proceed with construction, we request a reply by Tuesday, September 26 to our point person Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Please reply to her by email at anne@labucketbrigade.org or by phone at (504) 452-4909.
 
Sincerely,
 
Pastor Harry Joseph, HELP Association of St. James
 
Alicia Cooke, Co-founder, 350 Louisiana- New Orleans
 
Cherri Foytlin, State Director, BOLD Louisiana
 
Darryl Malek-Wiley, Environmental Justice Organizer, Sierra Club
 
Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade

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