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Judge Says Company Trespassed, But Work On Bayou Bridge Pipeline Can Continue

Travis Lux
Protesters disrupt construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline on Sept. 3, 2018. The pipeline faced a lawsuit from three landowners who objected to its construction on their property. A judge ruled Thursday (Dec. 6th) that construction can continue.

Landowners opposed to the construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline have lost yet another legal fight.

The crude oil pipeline is currently under construction between Lake Charles, Louisiana and St. James Parish. It’s majority owner is Energy Transfer Partners. Earlier this summer, Energy Transfer started construction on a piece of property in the swampy Atchafalaya Basin. It had permission from most, but not all, of the several-hundred landowners.

Three landowners filed a lawsuit. They said the company was trespassing and they didn’t want it built on their land.

Judge Keith Comeaux, of the 16th District Court in St. Martin Parish, ruled Thursday (Dec. 6th) that the company technically trespassed -- that Energy Transfer should have gotten permission -- but that construction can continue. Bill Quigley, law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans and one of the lawyers representing the landowners, says it’s a mixed verdict.

“It's a victory in principle that the pipeline didn't have the legal authority to come on their property,” says Quigley. “It's a disappointment and a loss, on the other hand, that the judge is saying, ‘But now they can come on your property.’”

Quigley says the landowners will appeal the judge’s ruling, a process that could take years. Meanwhile, Energy Transfer says the pipeline will be finished by the end of 2018.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Foundation for Louisiana, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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