During a pre-trial hearing held Friday morning at the St. Martin Parish Courthouse, Judge Keith Comeaux heard testimony from Kevin Taliaferro, Director of Right of Ways for Energy Transfer Partners, regarding the constitutionality of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline currently being constructed in the Atchafalaya Basin.
At the center of the lawsuit is a 38-acre parcel of land in St. Martin Parish on which the landowners claim ETP violated constitutional law in order to construct the pipeline because they did not obtain the proper legal consent before doing so. The Center for Constitutional Rights is suing ETP on behalf of the landowners in the basin and challenging the constitutionality of Louisiana’s eminent domain law for pipelines.
Attorneys for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline entered into evidence several documents concerning ETP and its business dealings with securing the property upon which the pipeline is being built.
Among those were environmental assessments from the Army Corps. of Engineers to determine how the pipeline could increase the area’s capacity for refining crude oil, which would produce gasoline, butane and petrochemicals needed for manufacturing plastics. These documents reported that the fully-functioning pipeline would help to diversify the state’s crude oil supply and bring $471 million in economic development to Louisiana alone.
Taliaferro was asked by attorneys for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline to clarify these documents as they were entered into evidence. He was also asked how ETP determined which parcel of land was owned by whom and if each landowner owned only a portion of each parcel.
Attorneys for the Center for Constitutional Rights asked if 100 percent ownership was required before construction of the pipeline began on the property.
“I don’t know the answer to that question,” said Taliaferro. “Ideally, we would have 100 percent ownership.”
When pressed again on a definite answer, Taliaferro responded, “We started construction without 100 percent ownership.”
The lawsuit is set for trial on Nov. 27 at the St. Martin Parish Courthouse.