Pipeline ruling on hold; decision expected next week
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The builders of the Bayou Bridge pipeline and the environmentalists trying to stop them will have to wait a few more days for a court decision on whether the project can continue moving forward.
The Advocate reports that after a day and a half of testimony and arguments, U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick told the two sides Friday she needs more time to weigh their points. She says they could expect a ruling next week. It will determine whether construction is temporarily halted in the Atchafalaya Basin.
The environmentalists have asked Dick to stop construction on at least the 25 miles of the pipeline that runs through the basin while they debate whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit should be revoked and reconsidered. Opponents argued Friday that federal regulators didn’t perform their due diligence when they decided to allow the project. They failed to require pipeline builders to take meaningful steps to offset the environmental impact of building the pipeline and did not thoroughly weigh the potential destruction of a spill, especially in the Atchafalaya Basin.
Lawyers for the pipeline companies and the Corps said the conservation groups misrepresented the pipeline review, which they said looked exhaustively at potential spills and considered the best way to offset negative impacts on the Atchafalaya Basin. Work that compensates for construction that affects sensitive wetlands is also known as wetlands mitigation.
They also asked the judge to consider the costs to both the company and workers building the pipeline should construction be halted.
During the work stoppage, the two sides would argue whether the Corps’ permit should be vacated altogether.
The under-construction pipeline will transfer crude oil between Lake Charles and St. James Parish.
Earthjustice brought the federal suit on behalf of the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club. They allege the Corps acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” when it issued a permit for Bayou Bridge.
Dick said she needed a few more days to review the arguments but that she hopes to rule next week.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com