Recently, as reported by Advocate reporter David Mitchell, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline was granted important permits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Environmental Quality. Throughout the permitting process, Gov. John Bel Edwards failed to heed opponents’ request to call for an Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline. This was a reasonable request, made by many of us who voted for him. If the pipeline is so safe, why fear a review?
What has gone unreported is Bayou Bridge Pipeline LLC’s abuse of eminent domain, a right traditionally held by the government to take land for the public good. Bayou Bridge has invoked eminent domain to seize private property. Does anyone really believe that the public good is being served by a private company’s pipeline? Our state already has thousands of miles of pipelines. Surely those are enough to transport this oil. More likely this land is being seized so that a few fat cats can profit at our expense.
And there is an expense. The pipeline route rams through our Atchafalaya Basin where crawfishermen continue to struggle from the damage wrought by already existing pipelines. Bayou Bridge threatens Bayou Lafourche, a source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people. And there is the community of St. James, where the pipeline would end. This community is overwhelmed by pollution. “We are full,” is what the pipeline opponents from St. James are saying. They are full of pollution, and Bayou Bridge would exacerbate the situation.
Nor is it in the public good to allow a powerful oil company to run roughshod over landowners. One landowner told me that Bayou Bridge lied to her aunt, telling her that other family members had already signed over the rights. The aunt felt coerced and signed, even though her siblings had not done so. Another landowner was dragged to court by Bayou Bridge and threatened with thousands of dollars of legal bills. Is this the public good?
Louisiana can continue to rely on dirty energy or we can take the moment – this moment – to say no to Bayou Bridge and pivot to a new way of thinking. It’s long past time for Louisiana, including our governor, to stop reflexively accepting every bad deal that comes our way. Bayou Bridge is a bad deal. Just asked the landowners who’ve been bullied.
founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade