Louisiana

Iraq war veteran and pipeline opponent Ramon Mejia was trying to stop Energy Transfer Partners from illegally constructing a pipeline on a cypress tree-covered swath of land deep in Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin when St. Martin Parish Sheriff's deputies arrived.

A photo of a Bayou Bridge pipeline construction crew shows a worker flashing what some say is a white-power gesture aimed at water protectors.

The worker, who was on a boat traveling down Bayou Chene in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin, can be seen forming a circle with his thumb and index finger. His remaining three fingers are raised. Hats worn by several other workers on the boat identify them as employees of Spartan Directional, a contractor for the project.

Water protectors engaged in a tree sit in the Atchafalaya Basin say some local and state law enforcement agencies in Louisiana are refusing to protect them from what they call aggressive and dangerous actions by Bayou Bridge pipeline workers.

In a letter sent to the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana State Police and the office of Governor John Bel Edwards, attorneys for the water protectors formally advised the agencies of “serious ongoing health and safety concerns for people protesting the construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline”.

Aiming to protect Louisiana communities and residents, water protectors say they are stopping construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline by engaging in multiple tree-sits deep in the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest swamp in North America.

Tree-sitters say they’ve been living in trees in the pipeline's path for several weeks and will not move until the St. James community has an evacuation route and the swamp's cypress trees are protected.

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.

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