Week of Action Against Bayou Bridge Pipeline Kicks Off

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The Bayou Bridge pipeline is a project being financed and carried out by the notorious polluter and pipeline spiller, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), and is the tail end of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline threatens the land, livelihoods, and water of people living in the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana. In response to the threat, a resistance camp, L’eau Est La Vie, has been set up, and a call for a week of action has been issued from February 26th to March 4th.

On February 26th, the same day that a week of action kicked off against the Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana, it was announced that a judge had issued an injunction against pipeline construction.

As Mike Ludwig in TruthOut wrote:

The Bayou Bridge Pipeline also faces mounting legal challenges. On Friday, a federal judge in Baton Rouge issued a broad injunction blocking construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline as the court considers a lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups and local crawfishers challenging a crucial permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Oil and gas pipelines already crisscross the Atchafalaya Basin, and construction and maintenance of the pipelines creates canals and “spoil banks” that inhibit water flow and reduce water quality, according to the legal complaint. The groups argue that another major pipeline project would do further damage to fishing grounds used by crawfish harvesters and compromise natural flood protection that the wetlands provide to millions of Louisiana residents.

“If the Cajun people of Louisiana had challenged the first pipeline when it came through Louisiana, we wouldn’t be facing the environmental mess that we have in coastal Louisiana and the Atchafalaya Basin,” said Jody Meche, a commercial crawfisherman with the Louisiana Crawfish Producer’s Association, West, in a statement on Friday. 

However, people knew that as in the past, the company was more than likely to begin construction and risk racking up potential fines, which they then would only be happy to pay later. Sure enough, on February 27th, the L’eau Est La Vie Camp shared a photo on Twitter of active pipeline construction happening despite the injunction.

Meanwhile on the ground, resistance continued against the Bayou Bridge pipeline on a multitude of fronts. Here is a timeline:

February 13th: Banner drop against Bayou Bridge on freeway.

February 17th: People occupy construction site and stop work. Report from Facebook reads:

Earlier this afternoon, about 50 water protectors from across the state and supporters peacefully disrupted a Bayou Bridge Pipeline construction worksite in Assumption Parish.

Standing firmly in the path of the pipeline, construction was stopped for the remainder of the day by our ceremony, prayers and songs.

Thank you for your continued support as we take action to protect our homes, lands and water. 

February 23rd: Banner drop against the Bayou Bridge pipeline at McNeese University.

February 24th: Protest in San Francisco outside of a Citibank that calls for divestment.

February 26th: Occupation of pipeline construction site, shuts down building. Police move people off the property and make three arrests. People are released later that night.

Law enforcement is moving people off the property.

Posted by Louisiana Bucket Brigade on Monday, February 26, 2018

February 27th: Collective members of FANG disrupted a Morgan Stanley event at Brown University, and called for divestment from ETP and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

February 28th: Divestment rally held in St. Petersburg, Florida. In Vermont, students protested a Goldman Sachs event. In Miami, Florida, FANG demonstrated outside of Morgan Stanley.

March 1st: After months of protests, Citizens Bank announces that they will stop funding Energy Transfer Partners. Demonstration outside of a US bank in Tucson, Arizona to call for divestment. In Oregon, people demonstrated outside of a Wells Fargo. In Worcester, MA, people converged outside of Bank of America. Also, new documents were released that shows extensive surveillance and spying on anti-pipeline community groups by police and the State, and also:

The documents reveal a high level of access to and coordination between Energy Transfer Partners and government employees, in contrast to the lack of access to regulators and public officials by pipeline opponents. Louisiana Bucket Brigade held a press conference outside the governor’s office this morning where they unveiled the documents.

“These documents expose that Bayou Bridge employees have taken over the function of the state regulators,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.  “Throughout this process there has been a terrible gap between the access afforded to this company and the access that those of us who live here get. The door has been slammed in our faces and we have been surveilled, while an out-of-state polluter with a track record of human rights abuses and contaminating drinking water gets the red carpet.”

The files show that the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) prepared intelligence reports on groups opposing the pipeline to share across agencies. The GOHSEP director sent a report about the Louisiana Bucket Brigade to a slew of state regulatory and law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Department of Natural Resources, the Louisiana State Police, and the Louisiana National Guard. GOHSEP also prepared a report about the L’Eau Est La Vie Camp, a camp of water protectors helmed by indigenous and environmental justice leaders on the Bayou Bridge Pipeline route, noting that it is “more formally organized” than resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The emails reveal Louisiana officials are aligned with a growing national trend of surveillance intended to intimidate those who exercise their First Amendment rights. Since the Standing Rock camp opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota was disbanded last year, 56 bills that heighten the risk and criminal penalties of dissent have been introduced across 30 states. Many of these bills seek to frame protests as “riots” and activists as “terrorists” or “jihadists,” in attempts to criminalize protected free speech activity.

Actions remain ongoing, with various events planned over the next few days across the US at major banks and institutions, (the majority of which are found across the US), which are involved in funding Energy Transfer Partners and the Dakota Access Pipeline. For the list and more information, go here. To listen to our podcast interview with people involved in the L’eau Est La Vie camp, go here.


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