Bayou Bridge Pipeline is Now Complete, After Years of Controversy

Thu, March 28, 2019

The 163-mile-long Louisiana section of the pipeline, which sparked years of protest and legal challenges from environmentalists and property rights advocates, links to a nearly 50-mile section in Texas that was completed in 2016.

Houston-based Energy Transfer Partners owns a majority of the pipeline and will operate it. Phillips 66 Partners owns a 40 percent share of the pipeline.

In a statement released Tuesday (Mar. 26), the companies said the pipeline will provide Louisiana refiners better access to North American crude oil and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil.

Environmental groups opposed to the pipeline say its route imperils the Atchafalaya Basin, considered one of the largest swamps in America, and poses human health and safety risks in dozens of communities.

Greenpeace USA and the Waterkeeper Alliance released a report last year indicating Energy Transfer is a poor manager of its pipelines. Citing data from federal and state regulators, the report documented nearly 530 hazardous incidents, including spills, from Energy Transfer pipelines between 2002 and 2017.

Energy Transfer defended its environmental record, pointing out that the spills represented a small percentage of the oil transported in its pipelines.

The pipeline’s most recent legal challenge was over Energy Transfer’s seizure of private land. Property owners sued the company after its work crews began cutting trees and digging pipeline trenches without permission.

In December, a Louisiana judge ruled that the company had the right to seize land but had failed to properly follow legal procedures. Louisiana is one of the few states that allow oil companies to take private land through expropriation, commonly known as eminent domain.

Energy Transfer was required to pay $150 to each of the three property owners contesting the taking of their land, but construction was allowed to continue.

The property owners, aided by lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights and Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, have appealed the decision.

“We’re asking in the the appeal to have the pipeline removed,” said Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor and one of the lawyers representing the property owners. “We want a decision that says this process is illegal.”