Thousand-year-old trees in the Atchafalaya Basin are being cut in the name of crude oil.
Photo: AP

Looks like the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana will have a busy summer. The company developing the 163-mile long pipeline plans to finish it by October.

Construction of the crude oil pipeline—which connects to the long-disputed, Canadian tar sands oil-carrying Dakota Access Pipeline in the Midwest to the Gulf—is 76 percent done as of Sunday, according to The Associated Press. The only thing left in its way is a decision out of the federal appeals court.

This southern pipeline has been in and out of court since it started gaining traction with permits and permissions last year. Throughout the state, activists—from a black pastor to an indigenous mother—are concerned over what this pipeline could mean for their water, their air, their homes, and lives.

The project’s currently without a proper emergency and evacuation plan that’d be necessary in a worst-case scenario (i.e., an oil spill or pipeline explosion). A judge ordered the company to create such a plan in May and put construction on pause, but the state is allowing construction to continue in a sensitive wetlands region known as the Atchafalaya Basin (despite the judge’s orders). That’s really where most construction’s left. It’s a beautiful place where bald eagles nest and millions of tropical migratory birds come to rest.

The company has been occupied cutting down trees in the basin: 164 out of 262 acres have been chopped away, according to a court filing released Wednesday. By August 8, that clearing should be done. All work in the basin is only 11 percent complete, however.

Advertisement

There’s a chance the energy project will be completed before the current lawsuit is closed. That would put the company in an odd place, as we’ve seen happen with the connected Dakota Access Pipeline. A lawsuit filed long before that pipeline was completed is still ongoing as the Army Corps of Engineers finalizes a new Environmental Impact Statement. Opponents are still holding onto the hope that that lawsuit will result in a shutdown of the pipeline.

Bayou Bridge could face a similar fate. The people hoping to stop it won’t give up easily.

[h/t The Associated Press]