Voices from the Gulf

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Construction on the controversial Bayou Bridge pipeline is continuing near the historic and predominately black community of St. James despite a judge’s ruling that the state illegally granted the company a coastal use permit by not considering impacts the project will have on area residents.

A judge has ruled that the coastal use permit issued for nearly 18 miles of Energy Transfer Partners’ Bayou Bridge pipeline is illegal because the state did not require it to take into consideration impacts the project would have on St. James, a historic and predominately black community located at the tail end of the 163-mile project.

On Friday, District Judge Alvin Turner, Jr. ruled that the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) failed to follow state guidelines when issuing a coastal use permit to Bayou Bridge Pipeine LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners.

In late March, residents across Louisiana picked up the phone to hear a recorded voice inviting them to join experts for a “free informational conference call on the Bayou Bridge pipeline.”

But residents who stayed on the line were never informed that one of those experts -- James “Spider” Marks -- has close ties to TigerSwan, a mercenary private security firm that used counter-terrorism tactics against water protectors at Standing Rock and that’s been denied a license to work in Louisiana.

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) has confirmed that the controversial Bayou Bridge pipeline has been rerouted to go around the L’eau Est La Vie resistance camp.

“We are glad that we are safe in our little corner, but we still have grave concerns for our neighbors whose land has been taken by this disaster-prone company,” said Cherri Foytlin, a representative from L’eau Est La Vie camp.

An overflow crowd of more than 150 people showed up despite a downpour of rain to attend a community meeting sponsored by two organizations that have come together to help the Africatown community in its ongoing struggle to achieve environmental, economic, educational and social justice. A new local community organization know as C.H.E.S.S which stands for Clean, Healthy, Educated, Safe & Sustainable community and DSCEJ or Deep South Center for Environmental Justice co-hosted the meeting to introduce themselves to Africatown residents.

Just days after learning charges would not be filed in the police killing of Alton Sterling, Baton Rouge resident Eugene Collins waited patiently to make a public comment.

When his turn came, he slowly and deliberately stepped to the podium to address the Metro Council.

“I oppose this item because on July…,” said Collins, who was interrupted by Baton Rouge Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wilson before he could say more.

“Take him out,” said Wilson without warning.

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