Dakota Access Pipeline

All the Battles Being Waged Against Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Are Following a Single Strategy

Read time: 6 mins
Virginia Delegate Chris Hurst, a Democrat, at a Mountain Valley pipeline protest before he took office.
By Luis Hestres, The University of Texas at San Antonio

The activists holding a growing number of protests against oil pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects from coast to coast are winning some courtroom victories.

For example, a federal appeals court recently struck down two key decisions allowing a natural gas pipeline to cut through Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, just days before a three-judge panel nixed two permits for another pipeline intended to transport natural gas in Virginia because it would compromise efforts to protect endangered wildlife. At the same time, Oregon’s Supreme Court declined to revisit a lower court ruling that let Portland’s prohibition of big fossil fuel export projects stand.

Just like when activists refuse to leave their treetop perches to stop oil companies from axing an old-growth forest or when they lock their bodies to bulldozers to prevent the machine from making way for a new coal mine, these legal challenges are part of a coordinated strategy I have studied for years while researching the movement to slow down and address climate change.

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. 

Louisiana Homeowner Left to Hold Bayou Bridge Pipeline Accountable for Damaging her Home

Read time: 8 mins
Melinda Tillies on her porch, in view of Bayou Bridge pipeline construction

Melinda Tillies learned about the controversial Bayou Bridge pipeline the day its construction began next to her home a couple months ago. As workers prepared the site for the pipeline, the activity made it feel like an earthquake had struck her home, she said, waking her family as their home shook on its foundation, cracking walls and dislodging tiles.

Tillies lives in Youngsville, Louisiana, a suburb of Lafayette. She purchased her dream house just over a year ago, but now she regrets buying it. “The pipeline is way too close to my house for comfort. If I had any idea there would be a pipeline built next to my house, I wouldn't have bought it,” she told me. 

For 15 Years, Energy Transfer Partners Pipelines Leaked an Average of Once Every 11 Days: Report

Read time: 6 mins
Bayou Bridge pipeline construction through Louisiana wetland

5,475 days, 527 pipeline spills: that's the math presented in a new report from environmental groups Greenpeace USA and the Waterkeeper Alliance examining pipelines involving Dakota Access builder Energy Transfer Partners (ETP). It's based on public data from 2002 to 2017.

TigerSwan Employee Applied for Security License in Louisiana Without Disclosing Ties — After Firm’s Attempt Was Denied

Read time: 7 mins
Bayou Bridge pipeline protester Ann White Hat being arrested in Louisiana

The private security firm TigerSwan, known for its controversial military-style tactics against Dakota Access pipeline protesters, is appealing the decision to deny its application for a license to operate in the state of Louisiana, where Energy Transfer Partners is building the Bayou Bridge pipeline. In November, several environmental groups opposed to the Bayou Bridge pipeline attempted to intervene in this case, saying their members were particularly vulnerable to TigerSwan’s security and surveillance practices should it be allowed to operate in support of that oil pipeline, but today the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners denied this request.

However, during this process, it came to light that the state board denied another security license application from a TigerSwan employee who failed to disclose her employment with the firm after TigerSwan’s application was rejected.

Bayou Bridge Pipeline Opponents Say Louisiana Governor's Office Is Surveilling Them

Read time: 9 mins
Louisiana Bucket Brigade founder Anne Rolfes at a press conference protesting Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards' treatment of anti-pipeline activists.

Opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline accused Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards of meeting with representative of the oil and gas industry while refusing to meet with activists and communities affected by the pipeline’s construction. They further allege that the administration has instead placed them under surveillance, pointing to similar treatment of Dakota Access pipeline opponents in North Dakota in 2016. Their claims are based in part on emails and other public records released by the state.

The activists brought their grievances to the Democratic governor’s home and office on March 1, holding a press conference in front of the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge and then occupying the foyer to his office in the State Capitol for over an hour.

Oil and Gas Industry's 2017 Suing Spree Could Set Speech-Chilling Precedents

Read time: 9 mins
Dimock, Pennsylvania resident Ray Kemble

In 2017, while the Trump administration absorbed media attention with its cries of “fake news,” the oil and gas industry was busy launching private legal actions across the U.S., attacking critics who presented information and opinions to the public.

Those lesser-noticed legal maneuvers, if successful in 2018, could create chilling new precedents, keeping important facts away from the public eye and making it more expensive and risky to talk about the fossil fuel industry's real and potential impacts on human health and the air, land, and water.

With Tribal Blessing, Louisiana Activist Buys Land in Path of Proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline

Read time: 5 mins
Cherri Foytlin at the entrance to land in the path of the Bayou Bridge pipeline

On December 16 anti-pipeline activists calling themselves water protectors gathered in Rayne, Louisiana, on land located along the proposed route of the Bayou Bridge pipeline. The gathering occurred two days after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality granted Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) the last permit needed to build the pipeline.

The proposed pipeline would transport crude oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (fracking) from St. Charles to St. James, Louisiana, and cross the Atchafalaya Basin, a national heritage area that is America’s largest natural swamp.

About 35 people took part in a ceremony on land that Cherri Foytlin, director of Bold Louisiana, recently bought for Louisiana Rise, an advocacy group she founded that focuses on renewable energy and a just transition. During the ceremony Foytlin requested and was granted a blessing and permission from the Atakapa-Ishak Nation to use the land that once belonged to the tribe. At the gathering the water protectors strengthened their resolve to stop the pipeline, which would be the final leg of ETP’s Dakota Access pipeline  carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana.

Stephen Schwarzman: Wall Street Investor, Trump Ally, Fracking Profiteer

Read time: 9 mins
Stephen Schwarzman

This is a guest post by  and originally appeared on Eyes on the Ties.

By now, many people have heard of Stephen Schwarzman.

Some may know him as the billionaire founder and CEO of the Blackstone Group, a mammoth private equity firm that has its tentacles spread across numerous subsidiaries and companies.

Others may know Schwarzman as a close ally and advisor of Donald Trump, the chair the president’s recently disbanded Strategic and Policy Forum, who is set to profit handsomely from his relationship with the president.

Some may even know Schwarzman as the thrower of lavish, self-glorifying birthday parties — his last one included fireworks, acrobats, live camels, celebrity performers, and a slew of high-profile guests, from David Koch to Jared Kushner, as well as several Trump cabinet members.

But fewer people know about Schwarzman the fracking profiteer, with billions invested in the fossil fuel industry that is fueling the climate crisis.

Newspaper Owned By Fracking Billionaire Leaks Memo Calling Pipeline Opponents Potential "Terrorists"

Read time: 10 mins
Homeland Security report calling pipeline activists potential terrorists

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published a report titled, “Potential Domestic Terrorist Threats to Multi-State Diamond Pipeline Construction Project,” dated April 7 and first published by The Washington Examiner

The DHS field analysis report points to lessons from policing the Dakota Access pipeline, saying they can be applied to the ongoing controversy over the Diamond pipeline, which, when complete, will stretch from Cushing, Oklahoma to Memphis, Tennessee. While lacking “credible information” of such a potential threat, DHS concluded that “the most likely potential domestic terrorist threat to the Diamond Pipeline … is from environmental rights extremists motivated by resentment over perceived environmental destruction.”

The Washington Examiner is owned by conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz, a former American Petroleum Institute board member. His company, Anschutz Exploration Corporation, is a major oil and gas driller involved in the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in states such as Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

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