HAYDEN: Another Baseless Bayou Bridge Protester Lawsuit

Editor’s Note: A guest post from Randy Hayden, President of Louisianians for Energy, which is an organization supporting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

Earlier this month, The Advocate reported three Bayou Bridge Pipeline protesters filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge challenging a Louisiana law aimed at protecting critical infrastructure, including pipelines, claiming that their First Amendment rights were violated. This is just the latest in a long string of protester antics and legal challenges to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline and Louisiana’s energy infrastructure.

Three protesters of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline challenged a Louisiana law aimed and protecting “critical infrastructure,” saying in a lawsuit filed Friday that they were arrested in violation of their free speech and other civil rights.

The protesters claim state Probation and Parole officers, St. Martin Parish sheriff’s deputies and private security contractors hired by the pipeline’s builder worked together to block their way on Bayou Bee, remove them from their kayaks or canoes and whisk them by water and land to the St. Martin jail for booking.

The contractors and the officers, who were wearing black Probation and Parole shirts, used fan boats in an effort to blow the protesters’ paddle-powdered crafts to shore, the lawsuit alleges. The protesters were eventually taken to waiting craft manned by St. Martin sheriff’s deputies for a 50-minute boat ride before they were taken ashore and booked with a felony critical infrastructure count and a resisting arrest count. One protester, Eric Moll, of Oakland, California, was also booked with interfering with a law enforcement investigation count.

The fact is that while protesting the pipeline, activists broke the law and were arrested. A troubling norm has developed in which protesters decide to pick and choose what laws they want to follow. Despite claims of local grassroots opposition to the pipeline – it’s clear these are professionals traveling from protest to protest. All three of the plaintiffs challenging Louisiana law are ironically from out of state – two from California and one from Texas.

Since coming into service in April, Bayou Bridge Pipeline has been safely transporting crude oil from Texas to St. James Parish. After a rigorous permitting process, the pipeline was approved and is carefully monitored around the clock. Extraneous legal challenges such as this latest lawsuit come at taxpayer expense and only serve to further activists’ agenda opposing much-needed energy infrastructure. After all, while activists claim to be fighting for their constitutional rights, the suit was filed against local law enforcement, a private security company, and Bayou Bridge Pipeline LLC – none of which have the ability to change the law.

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