U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Permit Hearing for Taiwanese Plastic Plant in Louisiana Turns into a Referendum on Environmental Racism

Read time: 9 mins
St. James Parish resident Rita Copper holds a photo of a friend who died of cancer

You don’t give a shit about brown and black people,” Louisiana activist Cherri Foytlin told government officials during a heated public permit hearing for a proposed plastics plant in St. James Parish. The parish is a predominately African-American community on the banks of the Mississippi River and has undergone rapid industrialization in recent years.

This is a dog-and-pony show and everybody in this room knows it,” she asserted, after the hearing officer cut off the sound system while Foytlin was giving her public comments. The officer, O.C. Smith, attorney for the Louisiana Office of Coastal Management, did this declaring that the hearing was no longer on the record.

Court Reaffirms Bayou Bridge Pipeline OK to Cut Through America’s Largest River Swamp

Read time: 6 mins
Julie Dermansky standing on a cypress tree stump in the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana

A day before a federal court reaffirmed Bayou Bridge LLC could keep building an oil pipeline through Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin, I stood on a cypress tree stump there, viewing the destroyed trees which pipeline opponents were trying to save. 

On both sides of the Bayou Bridge pipeline’s right-of-way, a path of shredded trees cut through the massive river swamp — the nation’s largest — home to abundant wildlife and fishing grounds for wild crawfish. 

Appeals Court Reverses Decision Stopping Bayou Bridge Pipeline Work Through Cypress Swamp

Read time: 5 mins
Empty Bayou Bridge pipeline construction site through Atchafalaya Basin

Today the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal judge’s temporary injunction halting work on the Bayou Bridge pipeline within Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin. In a 2-1 vote the higher court’s decision will allow construction to proceed while the company, Bayou Bridge Pipeline LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, appeals the injunction.

Court Order Pausing Bayou Bridge Pipeline Only Applies to Path Through Cypress Swamp

Read time: 7 mins
Protesters hold up signs against the Bayou Bridge pipeline, at the construction site outside the basin

A federal judge’s recent order stopping construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline — though only in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin — has successfully prevented further sections of the National Heritage Area from being destroyed, for now.

On February 27, the same day U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick explained her previous week’s ruling to halt work on the pipeline, Dean Wilson, executive director of the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, surveyed the oil pipeline's route in the basin. He was relieved to find cypress trees recently identified as “legacy trees” —  those which were alive before 1803 — still standing.

Battle Against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline Threatens to Become the Standing Rock of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin

Read time: 9 mins
A woman holds a sign protesting the Bayou Bridge pipeline before a permit hearing in Louisiana

At a permit hearing for the Bayou Bridge pipeline held January 12 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, opponents warned that if a permit is granted, the battle to stop the pipeline could turn the Atchafalaya Basin into the next Standing Rock. 

The reason is that Energy Transfer Partners’ proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline, if built, isn't just any pipeline; it would be the tail end of the controversial Dakota Access route, cutting through the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun Country.

Dakota Access Pipeline Builder Ignored Obama Admin Request to Halt Construction

Read time: 5 mins
Dakota Access pipeline construction near Lake Oahe

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has confirmed to DeSmog that Energy Transfer Partners, the owner of the proposed Dakota Access pipeline, has ignored the Obama administration's September 9 request to voluntarily halt construction in a disputed area, 20 miles east and west of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. 

The confirmation came in the aftermath of a video published by drone pilot Shiyé Bidziil on the news website Indian Country Today titled, “Drone Footage of Dakota Access Pipeline Approaching Missouri River.” Published November 2, this video offers an airborne view of pipeline construction — coupled with heavily guarded concrete fortresses around key construction locales — in close proximity to the Missouri River. 

Lobbyist for Dakota Access Formerly Led Army's "Restore Iraqi Oil" Program

Read time: 5 mins
Screen shot of Robert Crear.

Robert Crear, one of the lobbyists working for Dakota Access pipeline co-owners Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, formerly served as a chief of staff and commanding general for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

The Army Corps and other federal agencies are currently reviewing the permit granted for the controversial pipeline's construction near the Missouri River and Lake Oahe in North Dakota, and the Army Corps has reserved final authorization to complete construction on Corps land until after formal government-to-government consultations with the tribes are completed later this month.

Before he became a lobbyist, Crear headed up the Army Corps project, “Task Force: Restore Iraqi Oil” during the early years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq under the George W. Bush administration. This finding by DeSmog comes as the law enforcement presence has become increasingly militarized and additional forces pour into North Dakota from states nationwide under the auspices of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC)

Enbridge Gets Another Federal Tar Sands Crude Pipeline Permit As Senate Debates Keystone XL

Read time: 4 mins

On January 16, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave Enbridge a controversial Nationwide Permit 12 green-light for its proposed Line 78 pipeline, set to bring heavy tar sands diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) from Pontiac, Illinois to its Griffith, Indiana holding terminal.

The permit for the pipeline with the capacity to carry 800,000 barrels-per-day of tar sands dilbit came ten days after the introduction of S.1 — the Keystone XL Pipeline Act — currently up for debate on the U.S. Senate floor, which calls for the permitting of the northern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL

Enbridge Line 78 Army Corps of Engineers Permit

Griffith is located just south of Whiting, Indiana, home of a massive refinery owned by BP. In November 2013, BP opened its Whiting Modernization Project, which retooled to refine up to 85-percent of its capacity as heavy dilbit from the tar sands, up from its initial 20-percent capacity.

Obama Signals Keystone XL "No" on Colbert Report As Enbridge "KXL Clone" He Permitted Opens

Read time: 4 mins

In his December 8 “Colbert Report” appearance, President Barack Obama gave his strongest signal yet that he may reject a presidential permit authorizing the Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma northern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. 

Yet just a week earlier, and little noticed by comparison, the pipeline giant Enbridge made an announcement that could take the sails out of some of the excitement displayed by Obama's “Colbert Report” remarks on Keystone XL North. That is, Enbridge's “Keystone XL Clone” is now officially open for business

“Keystone XL Clone,” as first coined here on DeSmogBlog, consists of three parts: the U.S.-Canada border-crossing Alberta Clipper pipeline; the Flanagan, Illinois to Cushing Flanagan South pipeline; and the Cushing to Freeport, Texas Seaway Twin pipeline.

Enbridge announced that Flanagan South and its Seaway Twin connection are now pumping tar sands crude through to the Gulf of Mexico, meaning game on for tar sands to flow from Alberta to the Gulf through Enbridge's pipeline system.

Alberta Clipper, now rebranded Line 67, was authorized by Hillary Clinton on behalf of the Obama State Department in August 2009 and got a quasi-official permit to expand its capacity by the State Department over the summer. That permit is now being contested in federal court by environmental groups.

Flanagan South, meanwhile, exists due to a legally contentious array of close to 2,000 Nationwide Permit 12 permits handed out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which — as with Alberta Clipper expansion — has helped Enbridge usurp the more democratic and transparent National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process

Court: Key Environmental Law Doesn't Apply to Part of Enbridge Keystone XL "Clone"

Read time: 6 mins
Keystone XL Clone Flanagan South

A U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that Enbridge’s 600-mile-long Flanagan South Pipeline, a Keystone XL “clone,” is legally cleared to proceed opening for business in October

Approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via a controversial regulatory mechanism called Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12), Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson, an Obama-appointed judge, ruled NWP 12 was not a federal government “action.” Thus, Brown posited that Enbridge did not need to use the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulatory process and NWP 12 was up to snuff.

The case pitted the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) against the Army Corps of Engineers and Enbridge and has lasted for just over a year, with the initial complaint filed on August 13, 2013 (Case #: 1:13-cv-01239-KBJ). 

Sierra Club and NWF submitted the recent precedent-setting Delaware Riverkeeper v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) case as supplemental authority for Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the day that decision was handed down. 

But Jackson brushed it aside, saying it doesn't apply to Flanagan South, despite the fact that the Delaware Riverkeeper v. FERC decision said that a continuous pipeline project cannot be segmented into multiple parts to avoid a comprehensive NEPA review.

Although Enbridge will operate this project as a single pipeline, Flanagan South was broken up into thousands of “single and complete” projects by the Army Corps of Engineers. This helped Enbridge skirt the requirement of a more comprehensive and public-facing NEPA review, which involves public hearings and a public comment period.

“Here, not only was there no NEPA analysis of this massive project, there was never any public notice or opportunity for involvement before it was constructed across four states,” Sierra Club attorney for the case, Doug Hayes, told DeSmogBlog. “The entire thing was permitted behind closed doors.”

For all intents and purposes, then, Flanagan South is a fait accompli and tar sands diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) will begin pumping through it as summer turns to fall. 

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