Injunction hearing stifles pipeline construction, raises questions about protester arrests

Posted at 10:41 PM, Sep 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 15:23:35-04

Construction on part of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline on hold until a lawsuit is settled.

Monday’s injunction not only stops work on the pipeline but also raised questions about the arrests of demonstrators protesting at the construction site.

Landowner Peter Aalsted filed an injunction against Energy Transfer Partners because he says they’re building the Bayou Bridge Pipeline on his property without his permission.

“They have not completed the necessary process to expropriate the property. And, there are other landowners like our plaintiff, our client, who have not agreed or signed easement agreements. So, they have been acting without authorization in violation of the law in the state,” said Atchafalaya Basin Keeper Staff Attorney Misha Mitchell.

During Monday’s hearing, lawmakers for Aalsted and the pipeline reached an agreement.

“Bayou Bridge has agreed to not entering the property or engage in any construction activities thereon,” said Mitchell.

This complicates the legality of the arrests of thirteen demonstrators protesting construction of the pipeline on the property.

The St. Martin Sheriff’s Office made the arrests through what’s known as an “unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure” felony charge.

It’s part of a newly amended law that took effect in August.

“L’eau Est la Vie” camp member Cindy Spoon was arrested just a few weeks ago but came right back after being bailed out of jail.

“They shouldn’t even be able to have surveyors on the property. Much less cut trees, have private security brutalizing people. Lay pipe, all of these things are illegal. And, actually we have express, explicit, written permission from the landowner to be on this land, and to protect this land from Energy Transfer Partners,” said Spoon.

The attorney representing those demonstrators says Monday’s proceeding impacts their cases.

“What’s ironic in all of this is the company has had the protestors arrested on the basis that they were trespassing onto property and it’s clear that the company was as well,” said Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Pam Spees.

We’ve reached out to St. Martin’s Sheriffs Office about the arrests but they have not returned our messages.

Another hearing in this case is set for November 27th.

According to our partners at The Advocate, Energy Transfer Partners says today’s agreement will not “have any impact to their construction schedule.”