The Louisiana Record recently reported on the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry’s (LABI) call for a compromise to be met in the Bayou Bridge Pipeline landowner dispute. Camille Ivy-O’Donnell, spokeswoman for LABI, stressed the importance of the pipeline and the critical role it will play in the state’s economy, stating:
“Louisiana’s pipeline industry creates an average of 2,611 jobs with an annual payroll of more than $203 million. This extensive pipeline network has proven to be the safest method to transport crude oil from the Gulf of Mexico to refineries not just across the state but to all parts of the country. This infrastructure is critical to Louisiana’s economic development.”
Despite the numerous benefits Bayou Bridge brings to the industry and economy, critics have continued efforts toward undermining the project’s safe and timely completion. In the latest legal challenge facing the pipeline, “landowners” have claimed Bayou Bridge’s developer began construction on their land without permission or completing the expropriation process. The estimated value of the disputed land is $1.11. And as reported during testimony in yesterday’s trial at the St. Martin Parish Courthouse, these landowners have had their motive come under question, considering they have never lived on the land, and have ties to environmental protests around the country. Regarding the testimony of Theda Larson Wright and Peter Aaslestad, KATC writes:
Defense attorneys asked Wright how often she visits the property. Wright admitted that she had never set foot on the property and had not done anything to maintain it. Wright also admitted to protesting other pipeline construction projects including the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Asked by the defense of his commitment to the property, Aaslestad admitted that he hadn’t set foot on the property before last week, hadn’t paid taxes on the property and hadn’t done anything to maintain the property.
Based on this testimony, it is clear that these individuals are not local residents concerned about their community. Instead, it seems that this legal challenge is yet another road block from environmental activists grasping at straws. The article even notes that Peter Aaslestad, a resident of Virginia, has never even lived in the state of Louisiana.
Unlike Mr. Aaslestad, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline has already brought significant tax revenue to the state of Louisiana, as well as the communities along the pipeline route. Concerned citizens, public officials, and dozens of industry groups across the state agree with LABI: infrastructure in the oil industry is needed. With Bayou Bridge more than 90% complete, it is time for community members to come together and recognize the important role of the industry in the state’s economy and welcome investments like Bayou Bridge.