December 13, 2017, Baton Rouge, LA — Today, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, represented by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), filed suit against the Office of the Governor and the Custodian of Records to make records relating to the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline and affiliated companies, including records relating to meetings and internal communications, available to the public. The lawsuit comes as Governor John Bel Edwards, who has publicly expressed support for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, continues his months-long refusal to meet with pipeline opponents, who have been urging him to request that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers produce an Environmental Impact Statement.
“With his support for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Governor Edwards has failed to uphold his election night promise to protect our health and our environment. This pipeline is proposed by a company with a dangerous track record, and our drinking water, our health, and even our crawfish are threatened,” said Anne Rolfes, Director of Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “We want to know what his contacts are with the pipeline company, because he isn’t talking to those of us who oppose it. I and others have gone to the governor’s office almost every week for the last seven weeks asking for a simple dialogue and the public records we are afforded under law— and his refusal to offer either has left us no choice but to sue.”
This lawsuit comes a week after Louisiana Bucket Brigade, together with other Louisiana groups, filed separate public records requests to Bayou Bridge LLC, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, respectively, for the release of records, including communications among the government agencies and companies involved in the proposed pipeline. Together, these efforts aim to ensure that Louisianans can transparently evaluate the companies’ operations and protect the interests of people who stand to be affected and the environment.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is part of a loose-knit coalition that has been organizing for months in opposition to the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline, which is being pursued by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. ETP’s proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline would run 162 miles across Louisiana, affecting 700 bodies of water. The groups point out that ETP and Sunoco (owned by ETP) have become notorious for spills around the country, and argue that the pipeline poses severe health and environmental risks.
“We’re living in precarious environmental times and it’s crucial that people in Louisiana have the information they need to understand the relationship between the state and this industry and how decisions affecting the futures, health, and lives of so many are made,” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Pamela Spees, who grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, one of the communities that would be affected by the pipeline.
This lawsuit also comes a month after Louisiana Bucket Brigade and other groups separately petitioned the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners to let them participate in a hearing regarding the licensure of the private security firm TigerSwan LLC, also connected to Energy Transfer Partners, which is seeking a license presumably to support ETP in its attempt to develop the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The groups point out that TigerSwan’s dangerous conduct in North Dakota and elsewhere makes them unfit to operate in the state of Louisiana.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is an environmental health and justice organization using grassroots action to create an informed, healthy society that hastens the transition from fossil fuels.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.