By Steve Hardy
Environmental groups are demanding that builders of the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline turn over project records, including internal company communications, arguing that they are subject to release under Louisiana's public records law.
"The group's public records request to the company states that, since Bayou Bridge LLC is claiming state authority to expropriate property, the company is subject to public records laws," the Louisiana Bucket Brigade group said in a Wednesday news release.
The planned pipeline would carry crude oil between Lake Charles and St. James Parish. The state Department of Natural Resources and the St. James Parish council have already signed off on the project, though other entities like the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality must still give their approval.
Bayou Bridge supporters say the new infrastructure will make oil transportation safer, since new technology has rendered pipelines more reliable than trucks, boats and railways. An industry-funded LSU study also found the project will generate $829 million in economic activity, mostly during construction.
Opponents, however, worry about the ecological and health costs, especially in the event of an oil spill. They've requested records of participating companies such as Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66, as well as their correspondence with state regulators in the LDEQ and DNR.
Residents need to know whose interests the state is protecting in such important matters, according to a statement from attorney Pamela Spees of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing the Louisiana environmental groups.
"The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is a bad project for Louisiana that will enrich a few people at the expense of our clean water, our Atchafalaya and people's health," Bucket Brigade director Anne Rolfes said in a statement.
"The company is seizing people's land against their will. The people of Louisiana deserve to know the whole truth about this shady process, and these records will provide clarity."