Even though all the permits are now in place, opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline are continuing to battle the project, filing another lawsuit in state court on Monday.
“You would think that when the word of the approval permits comes down we would all be discouraged. But in fact, I think it has lit a fire under us,” said the Louisiana Bucket Brigade's Ann Rolfes.
Standing outside the courthouse in Baton Rouge, Rolfes – whose group is a party to this suit – explains why they’re asking the company to open its files.
“They are using the power of the state in claiming eminent domain,” she said of Bayou Bridge, which is a joint project of Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66. “They are assuming a state function, therefore they should be subject to the rules that the state is subject to. They are subject to public records laws, so we want the information.”
Cherri Foytlin, the leader of BOLD Louisiana, which is also a plaintiff in this action, says property owners along the pipeline’s 163-mile route are being bullied into giving up their land.
“They’re told, ‘You don’t want us to take your land? We’ll take it through the court system. We’ll take it away from you.' Most land in the area where we’re at, in Indian Bayou, went for $10 an easement. How many billions and trillions of dollars are going to run underneath that land?” she asks rhetorically.
Regarding the company using expropriation proceedings to get acquire the land along the planned pipeline route, Foytlin – of native American descent – says, “We’re not talking about a hospital being built on our land. We’re not talking about something that’s for the public good. The only people that are going to get rich are these rich oil execs that don’t live here.”
This particular group of Bayou Bridge opponents is represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, They have filed previous suits asking for project records from the governor and state agencies. Another coalition of opponents, which includes the Sierra Club and Atchafalaya Basinkeepers, is represented by Earthjustice. Last week they filed suit in federal court, seeking to overturn the Army Corps of Engineers permits granted on Dec. 14.