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Pipeline hearing draws protesters concerned about Atchafalaya Ba - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Pipeline hearing draws protesters concerned about Atchafalaya Basin

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Protesters at Baton Rouge hearing for Bayou Bridge Pipeline Protesters at Baton Rouge hearing for Bayou Bridge Pipeline
BATON ROUGE, La. -

The waiting game begins as the Army Corps of Engineers considers public opinion before deciding the fate of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The controversial pipeline would cut through the Atchafalaya Basin. The 162-mile pipeline would link refineries in Louisiana to hubs in Texas.

They have come by the hundreds to protest construction of the oil pipeline at the Baton Rouge hearing. The Galvez building was packed Thursday with protesters.

Lyla June Johnston is Native American. She says her tradition has taught her that the way her creator made it, is the way it should be. 

"We feel so bad that we've destroyed this planet in so many ways that we are looking for ways that we, ourselves, can participate in the healing and the reconstruction of 'Mother Earth,'" Lyla says.

Ron Harper is motivated by the next generation. He contends, "My grandson is going to suffer if I don't do the right thing and fight to the best of my capacity, to work for his future with a safer energy source."

Supporters have a different view of the pipeline. They point out it's safety compared to other modes of transporting.

"Pipelines are the safest form of energy transportation we have," pipeline supporter Brigham McCown says. "Building a new pipeline actually reduces risk. It takes oil and gas off of barges. It takes it off of the rail lines. It takes it off of trucks."

The Army Corp of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality held the session to hear the concerns of residents before making a decision on allowing the pipeline to cross the Atchafalaya Basin.

"It helps us understand the public concerns and any awareness they have of their homes," Ricky Boyett, Chief Public Affair Army Corp of Engineers of New Orleans, says. "Nobody knows South Louisiana better than the residents of South Louisiana."

Among those concerns is the impact the pipeline will have on the crawfisherman and the basin's ecology.

When the public got their chance to speak, Jody Meche, a Henderson Alderman, made his frustrations clear. "But the amount of money that these people make on oil and gas transported through these pipelines, there's no reason that we should cripple our environment like the way it has been crippled over the past decade, and it's time for it to stop," Meche asserts.

The Army Corp of Engineers does not have a timetable to make a ruling.

LMOGA President Chris John responded to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline protests with a press release.

He wrote, "The opposition at today's hearing on the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline's permit had very little to do with the merits of the application. Instead, these opposition groups took the opportunity to grandstand against the oil and gas industry in Louisiana. These opposition groups have very little technical experience or knowledge of the permitting process. Further, they ignored the applicant's efforts to be a good faith partner with the state. During the applicant's testimony, they reiterated their outreach to local communities and elected officials along the 24-inch pipeline's footprint. The oil and gas industry remains committed to Louisiana and dedicated to following the technical guidelines of state and federal law, including the Department of Environmental Quality, which heard the permit's technical merits this evening. This project will have a great economic and employment impact to our region. Further, this project will be for Louisiana's benefit, improving safety, economic security, employment, and more tax revenue. As the oil and gas industry seeks to bring positive development to the area, it is our hope these opposition groups drop the theatrics and work with us for the betterment of Louisiana."

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