St. James Parish, Louisiana – Protests and blockades continue as construction of Energy Transfer Partners’ Bayou Bridge Pipeline nears completion. The pipeline project connects to the tail end of Energy Transfer’s Dakota Access Pipeline, which saw one of the biggest indigenous gatherings in history to resist its construction near the Standing Rock reservation boundary in North Dakota. In Louisiana, an extensive series of direct actions have slowed the Bayou Bridge Pipeline’s construction as water protectors continue to carry out civil disobedience.
July 3, 2018 saw lockdowns at drill sites where the Bayou Bridge was boring underneath waterways. Water protectors brought attention to the lack of an evacuation plan for St. James Parish.
On July 6, 2018 Mark Tilsen, a Ogala Lakota water protector, celebrated his birthday by locking-down to Bayou Bridge Pipeline construction equipment. He stated that his action was taking place at the tail end of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and that he wanted the world to know that the Lakota were still resisting DAPL’s construction.
On July 14, 2018, several lockdowns stopped construction for over six hours, while two water protectors locked themselves to a mini van blocking the only access road to the construction site.
Police and authorities refused to allow support teams to bring the locked-down water protectors water. Denial of food and water has been observed multiple times as a tactic to cause physical distress to coerce locked-down individuals into ending their civil disobedience.
On July 16, aerial blockades were established in trees in the path of pipeline construction. Water protectors in aerial tree sits blocking pipeline construction are refusing to come down.
The aerial blockades’ support camps have been emptied out by police with K-9 units. Contracted arborists have slowly cut away branches from the trees as local Sheriff’s looked on. According to people occupying the tree blockades, the actions to cut away at branches and nearby trees have put their lives at risk.
July 19 saw water protectors intervene in a radio show where Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards was speaking.
Protesters at the radio station asked the Louisiana Governor to acknowledge that people in St. James, a small town in what’s known as ‘cancer alley’, will not be able to get out if a pipeline ruptures or explodes near their area. (If an explosion or other pipeline incident occurs in St. James, area residents’ only exit route will be effectively blocked.) In the livestream of the action water protectors were met by police as they yelled through an open door.
“These are disabled people who don’t have a voice. Who can’t get out, and that’s why we are here. It’s not about oil and gas, or left or right. It’s about right or wrong. Sir, it’s a moral issue.”
Water protectors chanted “We want St. James to have an evacuation route,” as police arrested three before pushing the remaining group towards the parking lot.
Governor Edwards had previously stated, “We’re going to proceed with the Bayou Bridge pipeline.”
On July 26, a lockdown at a Bayou Bridge pipeline construction site stopped construction for the day. The action took place about 2 miles from where several active tree sits also obstruct the pipeline route.
Actions against the pipeline have accelerated as Energy Transfer Partners claim construction is nearing completion. Water protectors and their allies promise to continue actions to stop pipelines and disrupt business at usual at banks financing their construction.
On August 1st, water protectors erected their fourth tree sit to stop construction of the pipeline.
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