April 2018, Vol.245, No.4


Louisiana Pipeline Construction Shutdown Explained by Court

A federal judge who halted construction of a crude oil pipeline through a Louisiana swamp concluded the project’s irreversible environmental damage outweighs the economic harm that a delay brings to the company building it.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick issued a 61-page ruling to explain her decision last week to stop construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in environmentally fragile Atchafalaya Basin.

The judge said the project potentially threatens the hydrology of the basin and “poses the threat of destruction of already diminishing wetlands.” She also agreed with environmental groups that centuries-old “legacy” trees can’t be replaced once they’re cut down.

Bayou Bridge Pipeline LLC asked Dick to suspend her order while it appeals, but the judge refused. The company is asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review Dick’s decision. The order doesn’t prevent the company from working elsewhere along the pipeline’s 162-mile-long (261-km) path from Lake Charles to St. James Parish.

The company said the construction halt could cost it close to $1 million a day or $25 million a month, forcing contractors to lay off or furlough workers and hurting the local economy. But the judge said the company’s estimated losses aren’t supported by the “underlying data.”

Company spokeswoman Alexis Daniel said in statement Wednesday that Bayou Bridge Pipeline “respectfully disagrees” with the judge’s ruling that the Corps did not properly consider the “limited impacts” of construction in the basin.

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