Statement on Reported Opening of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline
(New Orleands, LA)
Yesterday, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Phillips 66 announced that the Bayou Bridge Pipeline will be operational by April 1st. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade response is as follows:
ETP’s claim that the Bayou Bridge Pipeline is operational should be investigated, as many of its prior claims have been dubious, and the company has investors to satisfy. The contentious process by which the pipeline was approved and constructed brought out important points:
Resistance caused delay: Yesterday’s announcement is a full two years behind schedule.
Oil money trumped democracy (for now): The only people who spoke publicly in favor of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline were paid representatives, including Former Senator Mary Landrieu who was roundly booed at a hearing in Baton Rouge in January 2017 when she came out as a paid ETP representative. Over 24,000 people submitted comments against the pipeline, and hundreds turned out to testify publicly. Yet the pipeline still received all permits by state and federal agencies. The pipeline, however, was a public awakening that has set the scene for important battles over eminent domain and, in St. James Parish, the construction of the Formosa Plastics Plant.
Bayou Bridge trespassed: Bayou Bridge failed to get legal access to land in the Atchafalaya Basin before felling trees and destroying property while laying its pipeline.
The jobs claims were lies: Water protectors consistently documented that the workers on the construction sites were overwhelmingly from out of state. The picture at right is a collage of workers' license plates. These were not cherry picked. Louisiana plates were rare. Our Governor and our state allowed 200 year old cypress trees to be felled so that men from Alabama could have temporary employment.
The judicial system was thwarted: State court Judge Alvin Turner remanded the Bayou Bridge permit back to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for failure to adequately address threats to the local community. ETP, simply ignored the demand and continued construction, and the DNR never complied with the Judge’s order.
The oil industry is scared: In the heat of the battle, the Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association introduced and passed a bill – HB 727 – making it a felony to protest on site at pipelines. If the people were on their side, they wouldn’t have to legislate against free speech.
Abuse of eminent domain and constitutional question: The Center for Constitutional Rights and Atchafalaya Basinkeeper attorneys uncovered a lapse in the system: that oil companies like Bayou Bridge can invoke eminent domain without oversight or designation by the government. They challenged the constitutionality of this situation in court in St. Martin Parish in December of 2018. Eminent domain is for the public good, not for enrichment of private companies like ETP.
Governor Edwards hid his backroom conversations with ETP: Governor John Bel Edwards failed to put a meeting with Senator Landrieu on his public calendar. The Governor’s office only confessed to this meeting when Matthew Block was under oath.
Contact: Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, (504) 452-4909, firstname.lastname@example.org