Keystone XL Pipeline in Louisiana gains opposition

Over 400 people attended the original hearing in Baton Rouge for the pipeline's presence on Louisiana land. Poster by a protester

Over 400 people attended the original hearing in Baton Rouge for the pipeline’s presence on Louisiana land. Poster by a protester

MEG DENNY
Managing Editor

The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is the tail- end of the Dakota Access Keystone XL Pipeline Project, the same pipeline

water protectors are currently trying to stop in North Dakota. The entire pipeline project will span 1,134 miles from North Dakota to the Gulf Coast.

163 miles of that will pass through more than 600 acres of wetland and 700 water bodies – including the Atchafalaya Basin – as the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The resulting damage of the pipeline is a highly debated subject among Louisiana residents.

The Louisiana Department Of Natural Resources is in charge of granting or denying the permit for the last 16 miles of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline after a hearing on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. in Napoleonville at the Assumption Parish Community Center.

Cherri Foytlin, Director of Bold Louisiana, said that they expect a large opposition crowd at the hearing.

Bold Louisiana is a non-pro t organization that has played a major role in pipeline opposition. Bold’s Facebook page states, “[Louisiana’s] government has been hijacked by corporate carpetbaggers and lobbyists who have side-tracked the best interests of the people to support their own self-serving ideals.”

In January, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a hearing in Baton Rouge for the largest portions of the pipeline in Louisiana. An estimated 400 people showed up for the hearing, most there to oppose the continuation of the pipeline.

Communications Director for the Louisiana Dept. Of Natural Resources Patrick Courreges said that if the permanent environmental impacts of a new project cannot be avoided, they must be minimized. He assured that if this project causes wetlands to be lost in one area, they should be replaced in another by the company.

“The whole mission of the Of ce of Coastal Management is to ensure that no loss of wetlands occurs due to anything we permit,” Courreges said. “[W]e ask: is there a demonstrated need for this to be within the coastal zone? What’s the smallest footprint that you can make? Can you eliminate permanent impact?”

Courreges encouraged people against the pipeline to bring evidence to the hearing that shows a possible violation in codes for these types of projects. The Of ce of Coastal Management works within the law.

“If you don’t like the laws, go further up the chains and say, ‘Ok we want the laws that these environmental agencies work under to change,’” Courreges said.

The pipeline will create 2,500 temporary jobs and 12 permanent jobs, according to the company proposing the continuation of the line, Energy Transfer Partners.

“[U]nfortunately in Louisiana… a lot of people have been sold on this lie that it’s necessary to have the oil and gas industry here to provide jobs for us,” Foytlin said of these temporary jobs. “It’s an unfortunate lie because one of the fastest growing industries is actually renewables; it works better within the natural laws of the planet.”

The decision to permit or deny the construction of the pipeline will be based off the laws existing for pipeline projects. Also, level of public interest and outrage presented will be counted in; anyone that attends may speak and their testament will be added to public record.

“Most people do not want to see their water destroyed, their land destroyed or their democracy destroyed,” Foytlin said. “Most people want good-paying jobs, food on the table, and they want to put their kids through college.”

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