Governor John Bel Edwards has been clear about one proposed – now controversial – project for the state.
“We do favor, as an administration policy, the Bayou Bridge pipeline,” he said, during his radio show last month. “As a state, we have to find a way to transport hydrocarbons to where they are needed in our refineries and in our plants. And I believe overall the safest way to do that is in a pipeline.”
But environmental groups, like the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and BOLD Louisiana, oppose the proposed 162-mile pipeline, and are spending their lunch hours demonstrating in front of the Governor's Mansion every Tuesday this month. They're asking the governor to request an environmental impact study from the Army Corps of Engineers before allowing the pipeline, which will cross 11 parishes and the Atchafalaya Basin, to proceed.
“I don’t know why, if he believes so much in this project, that’s not something he’s pushing for,” says Cherri Foytlin, BOLD's state director. Her group filed suit in the 23rd JDC on May 31st, seeking to reverse the state Department of Natural Resources' approval of the Bayou Bridge pipeline permit.
Edwards says while he understands many are passionately opposed to this pipeline, it's not crossing virgin territory, so to speak. It will be constructed adjacent to other pipelines already in place across the Atchafalaya.
“I believe pipelines can be built – if all of the regulations and permit requirements are followed – in a way where you don’t interfere with the flow of water and the movement of wildlife,” Gov. Edwards states.
But Foytlin notes Energy Transfer Partners, responsible for this pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline, has a dismal track record with rules and safety.
“Florida Pipeline, which is already in the Basin, and owned by Energy Transfer Partners, is already out of compliance. The Dakota Access Pipeline leaked three times – three times already!” she says. “And Phillips 66, another partner in Bayou Bridge, had a pipeline fire just this past February, which injured two workers and killed a third.”
She suggests the state could use the time they’re waiting on the environmental impact study to urge the companies involved to actually follow the rules.
“We have actually really good laws on the books. It’s just this state doesn’t tend to hold companies accountable to do what they’re supposed to do,” Foytlin says.” I don’t think it’s too much to ask that this industry – but in particular this company – cleans up its mess in the first place before they’re allowed to do another project. I mean, I would make my kids clean up before they get more toys out, right?”