The Louisiana legislature seems determined to protect the construction of pipelines such as Bayou Bridge, and is pushing a bill to criminalize the protest of pipeline construction in the state.
Bayou Bridge is being built by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) across 170 miles of Southeast Louisiana, including the Atchafalaya Basin, America's largest river basin swamp. The pipeline will directly impact 600 acres of Louisiana's disappearing wetlands, threaten nearly 700 waterbodies, and jeopardize the drinking water sources of over 300,000 people.
Instead of standing up for Louisiana's environment, the legislature is pushing HB 727, which would criminalize efforts by landowners to keep ETP off their property, and would impose harsh new penalties and prison sentences for those who engage in non-violent, direct action to slow the construction of Bayou Bridge or any other destructive pipeline.
There is much to protest. ETP has a horrible track record, with its pipelines spilling once every 11 days, on average. ETP was brought into the spotlight due to its Dakota Access Pipeline which was opposed by the indigenous communities whose land and water it threatened. The Dakota Access Pipeline spilled 4 times in 2017. This bill would have made the Standing Rock protests largely illegal.
Leaders in Louisiana should be backing up all their talk of supporting Louisiana's coastal wetlands and demand better of ETP and Bayou Bridge, instead of advancing bills to stop the protest movement against this destructive pipeline.
The Senate should vote no on HB 727 and the Governor should refuse to sign it if it gets to his desk.