A Louisiana judge on Thursday (Dec. 6) ruled that the company building the controversial Bayou Bridge Pipeline had trespassed when it began construction before finalizing land seizure procedures. Good news right?
This case was brought when ETP was so arrogant that they decided to build first ask later. The owners of a 38-acre wetland in the Atchafalaya River Basin sued Energy Transfer after its work crews began cutting trees and digging a pipeline trench without permission. Today, they got the answer.
Judge Keith Comeaux of the 16th District Court in St. Mary Parish also ruled that the pipeline’s owner, Energy Transfer Partners, has the right to seize private property to construct the 162-mile-long oil pipeline. Louisiana is one of the few states that allows oil companies to take private land through expropriation, commonly known as eminent domain. This right is usually reserved for governments constructing highways or other public works.
Comeaux awarded each of three property owners contesting the pipeline $150 for expropriation and trespass.
“As landowners and people with deep roots in Louisiana, we feel violated that the court didn’t take into account this wasn’t just a trespass,” said Theda Wright, one of the property owners named in the lawsuit.
She’s right. This was not just a trespass. In my state, taking something by force is robbery. Just taking it is theft. Who can do this? Private companies with fat wallets.