Louisiana

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.

Baton Rouge, LA -- TigerSwan, the mercenary firm under fire in North Dakota for using counterterrorism tactics against water protectors opposing Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock, has applied for a license to provide private security in Louisiana.

While the application process does not require the firm to indicate who they will be working for, Energy Transfer Partners spokesperson Alexis Daniel said the pipeline company anticipates work to begin on the Bayou Bridge pipeline in the third quarter of this year.

I began my career in West Africa in the 1990s, where Nigerians who peacefully protested the oil industry’s destruction of their farms were raped, beaten and murdered. In the Niger Delta, violent repression was the oil industry and the Nigerian government’s response to a movement that had grown so powerful that on one day, in one protest, there were 300,000 people in the streets.

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