$670 million Bayou Bridge Pipeline claims to create 2,000 jobs but fails to offset costs, risks potential environmental damage

It is no surprise that areas in and around Louisiana are rich with crude oil. Within the energy industry, corporations have built pipelines to transport oil from the extraction source to refineries. The most recent pipeline proposal in the works, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, has gained a great deal of attention and controversy. If regulations for the transportation of crude oil via pipeline do not improve or are not strictly enforced, this pipeline will accelerate environmental damage to Louisiana.

The Bayou Pipeline is a 162-mile-long project worth approximately $670 million. It would run through the Atchafalaya Basin, along with several other parishes, between Lake Charles and St. James Parish. The company behind the pipeline has claimed that the pipeline will generate about $830 million dollars in economic activity and create more than 2,000 direct jobs. Proponents of the pipeline have used these figures to demonstrate how this pipeline can create positive economic opportunities for Louisiana. They also point to how pipelines are allegedly the safest method of transportation of crude oil.

These figures do not justify the potential harm that this pipeline can do. It appears beneficial that direct work on the pipeline will create more than 2,000 jobs, but they are all temporary. Even if it did generate that much in revenue, there is no way to predict how much this pipeline would cause in the way of damages. Pipeline supporters have also mentioned that this new project will be strictly regulated by the state. Historically, however, the state has not followed through with proper implementation of oil pipeline regulations.

Partly because of abundant sources of crude oil, the energy industry in Louisiana is well-established. Other well-established industries in the state are farming and hunting — industries reliant on the quality of the environment. Many people who settle in the Atchafalaya Basin do so for the purpose of making a living off the land. The Bayou Pipeline would hurt them and the species they interact with, such as fish, crab, crawfish and alligator.

Other environmental impacts of this pipeline cannot be negated. It has the potential to cause immense damage to wetlands across the state as other pipelines have in the past. Oil can leak out, hurt native plants and animal species and taint drinking water. Crude oil is also a very volatile substance that can erupt into flames. A recent incident when the Phillips 66 Pipeline in Paradis, Louisiana caught fire demonstrates how dangerous working with crude oil can be and the potential negative impacts it can have on its surroundings.

With already vulnerable coastal land, the costs and risk of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline heavily outweigh the benefits. As protests endure in North Dakota against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, the country should not have to suffer another pipeline that may cause harm to the environment and the people living in it. As long as oil has the effect it does on people and the environment, and as long as Louisiana continues to loosely regulate the transportation of oil, Louisianians should not be taking a chance with this pipeline.

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Daniel is a junior at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected].

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