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Atchafalaya Basinkeeper Dean Wilson points out relatively young growth on a spoil bank along the side of an existing-pipeline canal, the same corridor that would be used for the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Thursday, January 26, 2017, in the Atchafalaya Basin.

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK

We were confused by The Advocate’s recent editorial endorsing the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The editors concluded that because they couldn’t find any compelling reason to block the project, it should go forward. In other words, The Advocate appears to place the burden of proof on the opponents rather than the proponents of the project.

That is like asking the defendant in a murder trial to prove his or her innocence, rather than requiring the prosecutors to prove the defendant’s guilt. Ordinarily, when someone seeks to alter the status quo, as Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics want to do with the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, they are required to demonstrate that there is a public need for their plan. Thus far, they have failed to do that.

Instead, the editors (and others) want to give ETP and Sunoco a pass on that issue by telling us that “the market” decided there is a need for the project. If that’s the case, why wasn’t “the market” at the Galvez Building giving us its arguments in favor of the project?

In order to deflect us from the fact that there is no public need for this pipeline, its proponents obsessively recite their mantra that “pipelines are arguably the safest means to transport oil.” Note how often they use that weasel word, “arguably.” Translating from doublespeak, what they’re saying is: “We believe pipelines are safer, but others disagree.” (See, e.g., James Conca, “Pick Your Poison For Crude — Pipeline, Rail, Truck Or Boat,” Forbes, April 26, 2014.)

Let’s face it. They don’t want to build a pipeline because it’s safer. They want to build a pipeline because it is a cheaper way for them to transport oil than via trucks, trains or boats. In other words, they’ll make more money with the pipeline than without it. And they’re asking the citizens of Louisiana to help them do it. We say no.

Until they demonstrate that this project will meet a public need, and not just their own desire for more profits; until they provide some sort of evidence about the environmental impact of this project, and not just vague promises not to foul things up too badly; and until they show us how many people will lose their jobs or their livelihoods as a result of this project, versus the 12 jobs it will create, then they have not begun to meet their burden of proof in this matter, and so their application should be rejected. Much as some may want to deny it, the future of energy production is in renewable energy sources, not in fossil fuels. This is so obvious that even some oil companies are diversifying the energy technologies in which they invest. The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is a 20th-century “solution” to 20th-century problems. Unfortunately for them, we’re well into the 21st century. How can backwards-thinking projects like this ever help Louisiana move forward?

Michael Bowman

Ruth Bowman

retired

Baton Rouge