Water Protectors Slow Bayou Bridge Pipeline Construction Despite Harsh New Anti-Protest Laws

Louisiana: Water Protectors fighting against the 160-mile Bayou Bridge pipeline, which crosses Native American land and 700 bodies of water, have consistently disrupted construction despite a harsh new anti-protest law signed by Louisiana’s governor earlier this year.

Since the start of the campaign, there have been more than 50 arrests, including 13 people now facing up to five years in prison under a harsh new anti-protest law that went into effect in August. Backed by ETP (Energy Transfer Partners), Phillips 66 and other energy companies, the law declares pipelines “critical infrastructure” and threatens felony charges for anyone trespassing on a pipeline site.

The law is similar to other anti-protest legislation modeled on a policy supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC and passed in states with contentious pipeline projects.

Most recently, Water Protectors scaled a crane at a construction site for the pipeline while two others locked themselves to its base, halting construction. Water Protectors have locked themselves to construction equipment, forced construction stoppages by kayaking up to work sites and dangling from trees on makeshift platforms to delay clearcutting.

Oil and gas companies operate with impunity and face little pushback from a state that needs jobs. Of nearly 60,000 applications for a coastal use permit processed by the state since 1980 most of which relate to oil and gas development just 20 have been denied, according to officials.

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the majority owner of the Bayou Bridge pipeline and the company behind DAPL, has one of the worst pipeline safety records in the country. According to a 2018 report, pipelines owned by ETP, Sunoco (which merged with ETP in 2012) and their subsidiaries spilled over 500 times in the last decade. Analysis from last year found ETP’s pipelines leaked more than twice as often as other companies.

Calling for more volunteers on the front lines. Water protectors say theirs is the first example of a direct action campaign for an environmental cause in Louisiana. The group has managed to halt construction completely in some areas of the basin for over a month.


Photo: “Louisiana bayou kayaking” by Sebastian Peleato is licensed under CC BY 2.0