The U.S. 5th Circuit of Appeals ruled last week that the Army Corps of Engineers rightfully granted construction permits to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The 2-1 decision overturned U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick’s February injunction, which ordered pipeline construction to be halted in the Atchafalaya Basin per allegations of potential environmental harm. A number of activist groups had petitioned for the injunction, arguing the clearing of cypress and tupelo trees to clear the pipeline route would cause irrevocable damage to the basin.
The appeals court found that the Corps’ two environmental assessments under the Clean Water Act and Rivers and Harbors Act was sufficient and concluded there was not a need for a full environmental impact assessment. The opinion acknowledged that Judge Dick “misperceived the applicable regulations” regarding the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as misinterpreting mitigation credits under the Clean Water Act.
Regulatory certainty is key to an efficient and reliable dynamic between government and the private sector. Regulation must remain consistent in order for industry to understand what is required of them by regulatory agencies. Permitting judges to overrule federal agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not only creates unnecessary challenges and slows construction, but also undermines the regulatory process.
Bayou Bridge Pipeline LLC recently projected that the pipeline will be finished in October, assuming there are no unexpected hurdles. Louisianians for Energy looks forward to the safe and timely completion of Bayou Bridge and the benefits it will bring to our energy infrastructure and the state of Louisiana.