Bayou Bridge Pipeline fight hits the local airwaves

by Mike Stagg

Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle sits on the board of Sunoco Logistics, which is threatening eminent domain action against property owners during a time when Angelle is desperately trying to save his political career.

Graphic courtesy Bold Louisiana

Not all of the oil in the U.S. is in Louisiana, but a lot of the refining capacity is. Oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Formation has been making its way down to Louisiana refineries for years. Until now, most of that oil has moved by rail and barge, first to Port Manchac in Tangipahoa Parish then across Lake Pontchartrain to a Phillips 66 facility in Plaquemines Parish.

A partnership led by Energy Transfer Partners has been aggressively building capacity to move Bakken oil to Louisiana refineries via pipeline — the Dakota Access Pipeline that has been grabbing headlines for months.

Now, the pipeline (and maybe the fight) has moved to Louisiana where Energy Transfer and its partners, Sunoco Logistics Partners and Phillips 66, want to connect refineries in Lake Charles to an oil terminal in St. James on the Mississippi River. The project is named the Bayou Bridge Pipeline; it would be a 160-mile line.

That environmentalists are fighting the proposed pipeline is no surprise. But some property owners are resisting giving up more control of their land to pipelines in general and the Bayou Bridge team in particular.

Sunoco Logistics Partners adds politics to the mix. Since December 2012, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle has sat on the company’s board, earning more than $380,000 a year (see Page 137). The company is threatening eminent domain action against property owners along the route during a time when Angelle is locked in a desperate attempt to save his political career in his 3rd Congressional District runoff against Capt. Clay Higgins, a fellow Republican. The seat was vacated by Charles Boustany, who made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate.

I had some of the opponents of the pipeline on "Where The Alligators Roam" on KPEL last Sunday, including one property owner who says a landman representing the pipeline group threatened her with legal action if she did not sign the right-of-way agreement.

Listen to the podcast here.

A freelance journalist living in Lafayette, Mike Stagg hosts “Where The Alligators Roam,” a talk show airing on Sundays at 5 p.m. on KPEL 96.5 FM. He’s also a documentarian and researcher and is currently working on a book about the oil and gas industry’s relationship with Louisiana government.