Landrieu jeered, called “a traitor” at Bayou Bridge pipeline hearing


Former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu speaks in favor of the Bayou Bridge pipeline. Energy Transfer, who hopes to build the line, is the same company involved with the Dakota Access pipeline. Photo credit: Nick Reimann

Nick Reimann

Fiery speeches ruled the night as both supporters and opponents voiced their opinion over the development of the Bayou Bridge pipeline on Thursday, Jan. 12, in Baton Rouge.

The hearing came as a result of concerns over the pipeline’s environmental effects, primarily in the Atchafalaya Basin, where the company Energy Transfer hopes to install the line. It is the same company involved in the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.

The most notable speaker at the hearing was former Democratic U.S. senator Mary Landrieu, who spoke in favor of the pipeline on behalf of Energy Transfer, who she is a paid lobbyist for.

The crowd in attendance, which was overwhelmingly against the pipeline and numbered in the hundreds, didn’t take too kindly to Landrieu’s allegiance with Energy Transfer.

“You’re a traitor!” a voice from the crowd yelled as Landrieu spoke.

“Shame on you!” another said.

Landrieu defended her views, stating: “If I wasn’t working for them, I would still be here,” to which someone in the crowd responded: “You used to work for us!”

Landrieu said that supporting the pipeline is the most “rational” step to take, even though she sympathizes with those who may not support the project.

“I understand the passions of those that are anti-fossil fuel. I get it,” Landrieu said. “I am not a climate denier. I am not. I believe strongly in the impacts.”

Another speaker who believes strongly in the impacts is Ret. U.S. Gen. Russel Honore, who became famous for attempting to restore order in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Unlike Landrieu, though, Honore spoke out against the pipeline’s construction.

“Our concern with this pipeline is that we will continue the practice of destroying the Atchafalaya basin,” Honore said. “We have hundreds of miles of pipelines that run through there now. Many are abandoned. No one claims them, and no one’s making the people pick them up.”

Another theme of the night was the economic impact the pipeline would bring, as explained by an Energy Transfer spokesman at the start of the hearing.

“The project will create 12 permanent jobs,” the spokesman said, as he was met with laughter from the crowd.

Opponents continually referenced this number in their speeches, with one saying: “12 permanent jobs is a joke. I don’t know how to say that any differently.”

If approved, the pipeline would run 162 miles from Lake Charles in western Louisiana to refineries in St. James Parish, about 50 miles upriver from New Orleans.

Energy Transfers hopes for the pipeline to be completed and in operation by the second half of 2017.