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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues permit for Bayou Bridge - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues permit for Bayou Bridge

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Energy Transfer Partners' proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline received a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today. To read the Corps' complete statement, scroll down. 

The 162-mile Bridge pipeline will carry crude from Lake Charles to St. James Parish refineries, crossing 11 parishes and the Atchafalaya Basin. ETP has said the pipeline's construction will employ about 1,500 people, while its operation will permanently employ 12 people.

“The Corps neither supports nor opposes this project,” said Col. Michael Clancy, commander of the New Orleans District. “Our mission is to apply the best science, engineering and information available to determine if a proposed project complies with all regulations under our authority.”

According to the Corps, the pipeline will convert 142 acres of forested wetlands to accommodate rights-of-way, which requires the company to purchase 708 acres from Corps-approved wetlands mitigation banks. The pipeline will also temporarily impact 455 acres of wetlands. 

LSU estimated earlier this year the construction will lead to about $800 million in direct economic impact and 4,000 jobs, including $50 million in taxes. In its first five years of operation, LSU estimates the pipeline will lead to more than $9.5 million in direct economic output and 19 jobs overall, as well as more than $200,000 in taxes.

Energy Transfer owns more than 56,000 miles of natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products and crude oil pipelines, according to the company. The company has projected to investors Bayou Bridge will be completed in the first quarter of 2018.

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., has been a proponent of the project. He issued the following statement: 

“Bayou Bridge is part of our efforts to bring new jobs and economic growth to South Louisiana. The oil and gas and petrochemical industry remains the cornerstone of our state’s economy, and we’re working to unleash our energy potential. This project provides critical pipeline infrastructure for refiners and producers across the state. Bayou Bridge will create thousands of jobs for Louisiana families. Army Corps of Engineers Commander Colonel Clancy and I have cultivated an ‘Army strong’ professional relationship. We’re determined to work together, identify obstacles, and overcome the bureaucracies that have restricted permit approval for major projects in the past. My Congressional staff and I will continue to attack, one battle at a time. Getting Bayou Bridge rolling is major... but we’re not done.” 

Security firm's appeal still pending

Meanwhile, a private security firm affiliated with the company has been denied a license to operate in Louisiana, and its appeal is still pending.

The company, TigerSwan, is subject to a lawsuit in North Dakota, where a state board governing private security operations there alleges the company operated without a license during the protests surrounding ETP's Dakota Access pipeline.

Documents filed in the lawsuit include leaked TigerSwan situation reports that showed its intelligence operations around the Dakota Access protests involved infiltrating opposition groups and conducting surveillance of the protesters.

Since August, TigerSwan has employed five lobbyists to engage Louisiana's executive branch, according to records with the Louisiana Ethics Administration Program.

Opposition groups point to ETP's spill record

Groups opposed to the project had been arguing against TigerSwan's potential operation in Louisiana.

Those groups also said ETP's spill record created cause for concern, especially because the pipeline crosses more than 700 Acadiana waterways and 600 acres of protected wetlands.

Some of those groups sued this week to access all state communications with ETP in connection with the project.

Elsewhere, ETP is suing environmental groups who worked in opposition to the Dakota Access. According to a Thursday report from the Associated Press, the targeted groups are asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, for which ETP seeks damages that could approach $1 billion:

"Under ETP's theories, ordinary political speech that runs counter to a corporation's business interests could expose the speaker to enormous, unwarranted liability," attorneys for the groups wrote.
  
ETP has told The Associated Press that it has an obligation to its shareholders, partners and stakeholders to pursue claims against the environmental groups.

Here's the complete statement from the Corps: 

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District issued a Department of Army 
permit to Bayou Bridge Pipeline, L.L.C. under Section 10 of the River and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the 
Clean Water Act. 

The Corps’ decision to issue the permit for construction of a 24-inch diameter crude oil pipeline followed 
completion of an Environmental Assessment, Section 408 review and consideration of all comments received 
during the public notice and comment period. 

“The Corps neither supports nor opposes this project,” said Col. Michael Clancy, commander of the New 
Orleans District. “Our mission is to apply the best science, engineering and information available to determine 
if a proposed project complies with all regulations under our authority.” 

The USACE Individual Permit process requires that an applicant provide a state of Louisiana issued Coastal 
Use Permit and Water Quality Certification as well as proof that all compensatory wetland mitigation 
requirements have been satisfied before a final permit decision is rendered. 

USACE required the applicant to avoid and minimize jurisdictional wetland impacts to the greatest extent 
practicable by reducing the proposed project’s footprint and pipeline right-of-way. The 162.5-mile pipeline will 
temporarily impact 455 acres of jurisdictional wetlands and include conversion of 142 acres of forested 
wetlands to permanent pipeline right-of-way, requiring the purchase of 708 acres of mitigation from Corps-
approved wetland mitigation banks located within the watershed of impacts. The combination of avoidance, 
minimization and mitigation will result in zero net loss of jurisdictional wetlands. 

“The Corps carefully weighed the energy benefits of the project while ensuring environmental protections 
remain in place,” said Martin Mayer, Chief of the New Orleans District Regulatory Branch. “We will remain 
vigilant in monitoring the project to ensure that the pipeline remains in compliance with all permit conditions.” 

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