In St. Martin Parish, testimony in the 16th Judicial District Court continues in the Bayou Bridge eminent domain lawsuit.
A spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, acknowledge in a pre-trial on November 16, 2018, that the company did not gain 100 percent ownership of the land before excavating and building on it.
Now, ETP has to prove that the Bayou Bridge Pipeline will both be a benefit and necessity for the public of Louisiana.
The Center For Constitutional Rights is representing three private landowners who say the pipeline did not get their permission befor seizing the land.
Private landowner Theda Wright is the great-granddaughter of a Swedish immigrant who settled in the unincorporated village of Bayou Chene in the Atchafalaya Basin in the 1870’s
“He married my grandmother, started a family, was a successful businessman, and a farmer, and was also a police juror from 1900 until he died,” explained Wright.
The Center for Constitutional Rights says ETP rushed construction before reaching out to many of the private landowners of the 38-acre parcel of land in question.
“My whole family feels violated in a big way because that’s our ancestral land,” said Wright.
Energy Transfer Partners called the Director of the LSU Center for Energy Studies Dr. David Dismukes as a witness.
Dismukes is one of the state’s premier experts on Louisiana’s energy infrastructure and has been involved in various levels of legislative policy making.
Dismukes echoed ETP’s claim that the pipeline will benefit the public good because it will expand the state’s diversity of crude oil supply to Louisiana’s petrochemical companies which create natural gas, plastics, jet fuel and more.
Dismukes explained the diversity of supply will act as a safeguard in case of a hurricane disrupting Gulf oil production. He added diversity in crude oil supply will also drive competitive prices for crude oil coming into the state.
Opponents argue that the pipeline will hurt Louisiana in the long run because it will decrease federal money from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) funding for the state’s coastal restoration.
“Offshore revenues partially fund our restoration program. The Bakken oil supply that this pipeline represents competes with that and takes those revenues away. We could be receiving up to $180 million dollars from offshore revenues to the state of Louisiana, but this year we only pulled in $91 million dollars because there’s overproduction of crude oil,” explained Gulf Restoration Network Community Science Director Scott Eustis.
Eustis also argues that overproduction from the pipeline will drive down the price per barrel which will negatively impact Louisiana’s economy.
We reached out to Energy Transfer Partners several times but they declined to comment.
Judge Keith Comeaux is expected to rule Wednesday after hearing more testimony.