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In the latest chapter of the legal battles between oil pipeline builders and environmentalists, a federal judge in Louisiana has halted the construction of an Energy Transfer Partners oil pipeline in Louisiana, siding with environmental organizations that had sought to get the pipeline permit revoked.
Federal District Court Judge Shelly Dick granted in a ruling on Friday a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the permit of the Bayou Bridge pipeline and ordered the Bayou Bridge Pipeline LLC not to take “any further action on this project in order to prevent further irreparable harm until this matter can be tried on the merits.”
The Army Corps of Engineers will have to revisit its approval of the pipeline’s construction through the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana.
The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is a joint venture between ETP and Phillips 66 Partners, in which Energy Transfer has a 60-percent ownership interest and serves as the operator of the pipeline. Phase I of the pipeline from Nederland, Texas to Lake Charles, Louisiana, went into service in April 2016. Phase II of the pipeline, which is planned from Lake Charles to St. James, Louisiana, was expected to be completed in the second half of 2018, according to Energy Transfer. The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is expected to have the capacity to ship up to 480,000 bpd of light and heavy crude oil from different sources to the St. James crude oil hub.
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The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is the last leg of the pipeline network that connects the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota with Louisiana refineries and export terminals—it would carry oil from the controversial DAPL pipeline to the Gulf Coast if completed.
The opponents of the pipeline who had sought to have the construction halted include Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association (West), Gulf Restoration Network, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Sierra Club, represented by lawyers at Earthjustice. The pipeline opponents have raised concerns and that the 162-mile pipeline would irreparably harm the Atchafalaya Basin.
“The court’s ruling recognizes the serious threat this pipeline poses to the Atchafalaya Basin, one of our country’s ecological and cultural crown jewels,” Jan Hasselman, attorney from Earthjustice representing plaintiffs, said in a statement.
“The Bayou Bridge pipeline would pose an unacceptable risk to the wetlands, water, and communities along its route, and should never be built. It is a relief that the court has granted this injunction so we can make our case against this dirty, dangerous pipeline, and we will continue to fight until it is stopped for good,” Julie Rosenzweig, Sierra Club Delta Chapter Director, said.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.