Louisiana's Bayou Bridge Pipeline Project, United States

With the easy compliance of Louisiana's Governor, Energy Transfer Partners is building the Bayou Bridge Pipeline that will cross key bodies of water in Louisiana despite property rights challenge.


Pipelines in the United States are quickly becoming normalized as ‘critical public infrastructure.’ The government protections of infrastructure deemed critical to the public good have categorically expanded since the establishment of the U.S. Patriot Act of 2001 [1,3], resulting in greater limits upon a citizen’s right to freely speak and demonstrate in ways that would disrupt pipeline construction projects [4]. A key example of this normalization process is the Bayou Bridge Pipeline (also referred to as ‘the governor’s pipeline’), which was declared ‘critical infrastructure’ by the State Legislature in April 2018 through Louisiana law HB727. This law increased the fines and jail time for offenses relative to critical infrastructure, including pipelines. Unauthorized entry into areas of critical infrastructure, a mobilization practice of a number of environmental justice groups, now may hold a sentence of up to 5 years along with a fine of up to $1,000; actual damage to pipelines multiplies these terms by ten.  In March 2018, it was uncovered through leaked memos that the Governor’s office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has established a process of monitoring of activities stemming from anti-pipeline activism [5]. Contrariwise, efforts on behalf of government officials have often ignored environmental concerns regarding the pipeline. Col. Michael Clancy, District Commander of New Orleans’s Army Corps of Engineers granted permits to the ETP without submitting the environmental impact statement normally required by the National Environmental Policy Act for projects that may cause environmental harm. This after the state institution received over 24,000 public comments expressing opposition to the project. Numerous faults on behalf of the state officials mark this case: ignorance with regards to the rights of freedom of speech by activists, disregard to both the public and environmental permitting laws, an adoption of pipeline industry language in official documents, as well as unequivocal cooperation between private security firms hired by the industry and state police officers in the control of activists.  These offenses on the public have resulted in a growing mobilization from citizens, environmental justice NGOs, human rights groups, churches, and other members of civil society.  

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Basic Data
NameLouisiana's Bayou Bridge Pipeline Project, United States
CountryUnited States of America
SiteAtchafalaya Basin
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Oil and gas refining
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsBeginning in January 2018, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline project by Energy Transfer Partners is investing $750 million in southern Louisiana communities including an estimated short-term 2,500 construction jobs in order to construct a pipeline that will carry nearly a half million barrels of oil per day across Louisiana’s wetlands. Currently, The Bayou Bridge pipeline (BBP) has the capacity to transport multiple grades of crude oil from the terminal hub facilities in Nederland, Texas to terminal facilities and refineries in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Upon its proposed completion in the latter part of 2018, the pipeline will transport excess crude stemming from sources as far away as Canada underground from Lake Charles to St. James, Louisiana, where it will be redistributed to refineries in the Baton Rouge area. The BBP website claims [2] that Louisiana will experience multiple economic benefits resulting from the pipeline construction including: 2,500 local construction jobs, generate $17.6 million in sales tax for local businesses, an estimated $35 million in new investments with Louisiana-based companies, and pay annual property taxes estimated to be $1.8 million for the first year the pipeline is in service.
Project Area (in hectares)182
Level of Investment (in USD)750,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population300,000
Start Date26/07/2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesEnergy Transfer Partners (formerly Sunoco Logistics). (ETF) from United States of America
Philipp 66 Partners, L.P. from United States of America - Pipelin Construction
Relevant government actorsGovernor of Louisiana, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLouisiana Bucket Brigade, http://www.labucketbrigade.org/

H.E.L.P. Association

350 New Orleans, https://350neworleans.org/

L'eau c'est la vie camp, http://nobbp.org/about/leau-est-la-vie-camp/

Center for Constitutional Rights, https://ccrjustice.org/

Earthjustice, https://earthjustice.org/

Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, https://www.basinkeeper.org/

the Waterkeeper Alliance, https://waterkeeper.org/

Gulf Restoration Network, https://www.healthygulf.org/

Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association, http://www.crawfish.org/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Public campaigns
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Shareholder/financial activism.
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Noise pollution, Oil spills
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesAlternatives pipeline pathways are being proposed to protect vital wetlands and overexposed, vulnerable communities.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project is still moving forward, despite delays resulting from mobilization.
Sources and Materials

Bill Text: LA HB727 | 2018 | Regular Session | Chaptered
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[3] Moteff and Parfomak 2004. Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets: Definition and Identification
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[4] Robert, Secor, and Zook 2014. Critical Infrastructure: Mapping the Leaky Plumbing of US Hegemony
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[1] O'Rourke 2007. Critical Infrastructure, Interdependencies, and Resilience
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[2] Bayou Bridge Pipeline Industry Website
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[5] Dermansky March 2018. Bayou Bridge Pipeline Opponents Say Louisiana Governor’s Office Is Surveilling Them
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Official site of the 'Water is life' camp
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[8] Louisiana Judge Rules Bayou Bridge Pipeline's Coastal Use Permit Is Illegal
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[7] Pastor Leads Lawsuit Opposing Bayou Bridge Pipeline to Protect Louisiana Cancer Alley Community
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[9] Bayou Bridge Pipeline Faces Mounting Legal Challenges in Louisiana
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[10] Addressing False Claims About Pipeline Jobs in Louisiana
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[11] Bayou Bridge Pipeline Threatens The Riches Of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin
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[12] Public Records Request to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for Documents Related to Bayou Bridge Pipeline
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Other Documents

Existing Pipeline Canal in Atchafalaya Basin Dean Wilson, executive director of the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, shows off an existing pipeline canal in the Atchafalaya Basin on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. The same canal would be used for the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline. (Photo by Brett Duke, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
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Bayou Bridge Pipeline Map (NOLA) NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Bayou Bridge Pipeline route map
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Louisiana Pipelines and Platforms NOLA.com - photo
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Protest Sign - Governor's Office Louisiana Bucket Brigade founder Anne Rolfes at a press conference protesting Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ treatment of anti-pipeline activists. (Photo: © Julie Dermansky)
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Bayou Bridge Pipeline halted by property rights challenge Updated Sep 10, 2018.
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Meta Information
ContributorJulie L. Snorek, Clark University, [email protected]
Last update04/10/2018