Over 400 pack the overflowing room in Baton Rouge for a public hearing on the Bayou Bridge pipeline. (Photo: Cherri Foytlin)


Cherri Foytlin, Bold Louisiana, 334-462-4484, cherri@boldlouisiana.org
Darryl Malek-Wiley, Sierra Club, 504-427-1885 darryl.malek-wiley@sierraclub.org
Scott Eustis, Gulf Restoration Network, 504-237-0323, scott@healthygulf.org
Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 504-452-4909, anne@labucketbrigade.org

Over 400 Gulf Protectors Rally and Deliver Testimony Opposing Bayou Bridge Pipeline at Public Hearing in Baton Rouge

Pipeline opponents will also testify at Dept. of Natural Resources public hearing
on Feb. 8 in Napoleonville, Assumption Parish

Baton Rouge — Over 400 concerned citizens packed an overflowing hearing room in Baton Rouge on Thursday evening to voice their concerns about threats posed by the proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline during a marathon 5 ½ hour public hearing.

Over 70 citizens testified in opposition to the Bayou Bridge pipeline during the public hearing held by the Louisiana Dept. of Environmental Quality and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with pipeline opponents estimated to have outnumbered those testifying in favor of the pipeline by 5-to-1.

Before the hearing, Gulf Protectors held a rally and “teach-in” about the proposed pipeline outside the Galvez Building, featuring speakers including Anne Rolfes of Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Cherri Foytlin of Bold Louisiana, Scott Eustis of Gulf Restoration Network, Lyla June Johnston, local Baton Rouge civil rights leader “Mamma” Seabell, and Shell refinery community member Iris Carter, among others.

View photos from the “teach-in” rally and inside Bayou Bridge hearing:

In addition, a coalition of local and national grassroots groups — including Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Bold Louisiana, Care2, and Gulf Restoration Network delivered petition signatures and written comment submissions at the hearing from more than 106,000 citizens standing together in opposition to Bayou Bridge.

Among the several petitions and testimonies, here is a look at some of the testimonies from the locals and citizens who were physically present to extend their support for this environmental cause. The turnaround from the public was huge and gained widespread attraction just as the online cryptocurrency trading portal – the Bitcoin Loophole.

Quotes from citizens’ testimony at the hearing:

Rachel Roche, Jefferson Davis Parish Landowner:
“This new pipeline adds an additional threat to my rice and crawfish crops because it further threatens our major source for irrigation,” said Rachel Roche. “It threatens the drinking water for me, my family, my neighbors and my livestock… I stand in opposition to this pipeline for the protection of the Atchafalaya and for all of South Louisiana.”

Jody Meche, Commercial Crawfisherman, Council Member for the Town of Henderson:
“The right of way where they propose to put this pipeline in, is an existing out-of-compliance right of way. It’s left behind elevated spoil banks that damages water flow all across the Atchafalaya Basin. It has crippled our ability to make a living as a commercial fisherman in the Atchafalaya Basin,” said commercial crawfisherman Jody Meche. “I appreciate the oil and gas I put in my truck and all the different products manufactured from crude oil, but the amount of money these (oil companies) make from oil and gas, there is no reason we should cripple our environment like it has in the last few decades. It is time for them to conduct business in a way that provided for future generations.”

Rae-lynn Cazelot, Citizen of the United Houma Nation:
“We are at an age where everything is shifting, as well as energy resources are shifting. And so my opposition to this pipeline is one in which I care deeply for this planet,” said Rae-lynn Cazelot of the United Houma Nation. “I pray that we can see things in a long term perspective and not a short term perspective.”

Russel Honore, Green Army:
“Our concern of this pipeline is that we will continue the practice of destroying the Atchafalaya Basin,” said Russel Honore. “We have hundreds of miles of pipelines that run through there now. Many are abandoned, no one claims them and no one is making the people pick them up… You want to go see them? I’ll take you. LDEQ, you do not have the staff to supervise another pipeline. And by the way, the temperature today set a new record at the Baton Rouge airport – 82 degrees, on this day in January. We’ve got a problem and we’ve got to fix it. These pipelines are just endemic of a problem that we’ve got to fix.”

Stephen Wilkerson, Lafayette resident & member of Veterans Stand with Standing Rock:
“These new pipelines that they are planning to put in here are the same pipelines that they put in North Dakota – especially, Billings County. On December 5, a six-inch pipeline spilled 176,000 gallons of crude oil into Ashe Coulee Creek, it went unnoticed for at least six days. This is one of those pipelines that should shut itself down (if a leak is detected)… Let’s talk about jobs. You want to talk about the 12 jobs that are coming? But there is also temporary job, right? They will be temporary during construction, but they will leave. What will also leave is the many rail or truck jobs in the local transportation industry, who will continue to suffer temporary losses… in order to make more money for businesses that are not even in our state.”

Quotes from local groups opposed to Bayou Bridge:

“Many Cajun fisherman delivered heartbreaking accounts of the devastating effects that these pipelines and their illegal spoil-banks have had on livelihoods and culture in The Basin,” said Dean Wilson of Atchafalaya Basinkeeper. “Atchafalaya Basinkeeper demand that the Corps of Engineers starts enforcing the law before any additional pipelines are permitted in the Basin.”

“We need this company to know that the vision we have for our communities does not include more pipelines,” said Cherri Foytlin, state director of Bold Louisiana. “It does not include more land loss or toxic drinking water. It does not include more flooding, or more of our tax dollars going to companies known to pollute us. It does not include temporary jobs, given to people who often don’t even live here. And certainly, it does not include the destruction of the livelihoods of our crawfishers, or the mutilation of a national treasure such as the Atchafalaya Basin.”

“The people have spoken and we don’t want their dirty Bayou Bridge pipeline,” said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “The only people in favor were those on the oil industry payroll, including some elected officials they control. But crawfishermen, people from small town Louisiana and we the people delivered a firm message. If they approve this pipeline it will be because the system is rigged. But the movement will only grow. We will put our bodies in front of their bulldozers if we have to. We will stop this pipeline.”

“This pipeline is the largest proposed pipeline impact to wetlands that I’ve seen in my career, and it belongs to a company with one of the worst safety records” said Scott Eustis, Gulf Restoration Network. He continued “We can’t risk 600 acres of storm buffer or the drinking water for over 300,000 residents for another giant pipeline – it’s not worth it.”

“The Corps must do an Environmental Impact Statement on this project,” said Lisa Jordan, attorney with the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic. “State pipelines, like the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, have the potential to significantly degrade the wetlands of the Atchafalaya Basin. We have seen this phenomenon.”

“I was proud to help deliver a Care2 petition signed by over 106,000 people opposed to Bayou Bridge,” said Aaron Viles of the online community Care2.com. “In addition to thousands from Louisiana, supporters joined from every state in the nation and dozens of other countries. If the world understands that the Atchafalaya Basin is an international treasure that’s worth protecting from this pipeline, why can’t LDEQ and our local lawmakers?”

Pipeline opponents also plan to turn out in force on Feb. 8 in Assumption Parish, for the only other public hearing scheduled where citizens may voice their concerns with the project. The hearing in Napoleonville will focus on Energy Transfer Partners’ application for a Coastal Use Permit from the Louisiana Dept. of Natural Resources.

Also of note, the LDEQ and Army Corps said this week that they have extended the deadline to submit comments on the Bayou Bridge pipeline project until Feb. 13, 2017.

The proposed Bayou Bridge project is an extension of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The 160-mile pipeline would run through eleven parishes, from Lake Charles to St. James, cutting across nearly 600 acres of wetlands, 700 bodies of water, and causing significant harm to the Atchafalaya Basin — America’s largest natural swamp and home to several endangered species, as well as the commercial crawfishing industry.

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WATCH: Bold Louisiana director Cherri Foytlin testifies at the Bayou Bridge pipeline public hearing on Jan. 12.

Packed house at the Bayou Bridge Pipeline permit hearing on Jan 12, 2016. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)
Bold Louisiana director Cherri Foytlin speaks at a rally before the Bayou Bridge Pipeline permit hearing in Baton Rouge on Jan. 12. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)
Sisters Jayden and Erin Foytlin speak at a rally before the Bayou Bridge Pipeline permit hearing. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)