Louisiana State Court Declares Bayou Bridge Pipeline Permit Illegal
The permit was issued for the last 18-mile stretch of the fracked oil pipeline that would have run through the riverside town of St. James Parish, where dozens of refineries and industrial facilities are already fueling a public health crisis in the mostly African-American community.
The proposed 162-mile Bayou Bridge pipeline would connect the contentious Dakota Access Pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico.
As noted by the Bridge the Gulf Project, the judge ruled that the permit granted by the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was illegal because it did not take into consideration the impacts the project would have on the town.
In his April 30 decision, made public on Monday, 23rd Judicial District Court Judge Alvin Turner Jr. held, "Once constructed, this pipeline has the potential to impact some of Louisiana's most coveted and ecologically sensitive areas such as the Atchafalaya Basin, as well as other wetlands through Louisiana."
He also wrote, "the permit application does not include an emergency response plan nor does it address potential spills that may occur after construction once the pipeline is operational."
Among other decisions, the court ordered DNR to require the pipeline builders "to develop effective environmental protection and emergency or contingency plans relative to evacuations in the event of a spill or other disaster."
The plaintiffs include St. James residents, H.E.L.P. association, the Gulf Restoration Network, the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper and Bold Louisiana. They were represented by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.
"Here in St. James, we are in desperate need for an evacuation plan that will allow us to get out fast when something spills or explodes," said Genevieve Butler, resident of St. James and petitioner in the lawsuit, in a statement received by EcoWatch.
"More facilities keep coming, and each one puts us at more risk, but none of them want to do anything about our situation. Well, now Bayou Bridge has to step up. I hope all the others see this ruling as a sign that they have to give our community the protection we deserve."
Pastor Harry Joseph of Mt. Triumph Baptist Church and another petitioner added, "It seems like the state agency didn't think too much about the people who live here when it was giving Bayou Bridge this permit, and neither did Bayou Bridge. So we went to court, to somebody who we felt would listen to us, and he did."
In a Facebook post, pipeline opponents L'eau Est La Vie Camp heralded the ruling for "setting the stage for the suspension of a key permit that is needed to construct the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in St. James and other areas in eastern Louisiana."
Patrick Courreges, a spokesman for DNR, told the Times-Picayune the agency's staff believed it was following the rules correctly under state law.
"The court has ruled otherwise," he noted. It is unclear if the DNR will appeal the decision.
Energy Transfer Partners spokeswoman Vicki Granado told the newspaper, "We do not typically comment on pending or current litigation. We would like to reiterate, however, that we will continue to follow all of the stipulations of our permits, as we have always done."
The energy company has reported hundreds of thousands of gallons of spills from pipelines between 2015 and 2016, according to a report from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and DisasterMap.net. Energy Transfer Partners and its subsidiary Sunoco have filed 69 accidents in two years to the National Response Center, the federal contact point for oil spills and industrial accidents.
That's 2.8 accidents every month, the analysis said, adding that "these are just the accidents that are reported."
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
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The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>