These Water Protectors Won’t Let Arrests Stop Them From Fighting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline

Cherri Foytlin outside the sheriff’s office where she was held Thursday.
Cherri Foytlin outside the sheriff’s office where she was held Thursday.
Photo: Karen Savage (L’eau Est La Vie Camp)

On Thursday, officers arrested several Bayou Bridge Pipeline protestors who stood in the path of construction trucks in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, attempting to stop the construction of the 163-mile crude oil pipeline. Among the arrested was Cherri Foytlin, indigenous environmental activist and co-founder of the L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) Camp which has been fighting the energy project since at least 2017.

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Sue Prevost, one of the people arrested Thursday.
Sue Prevost, one of the people arrested Thursday.
Photo: Anne Rolfes (Louisiana Bucket Brigade)

Foytlin says she was standing near the water protectors and recording a live stream when she was arrested, along with three other water protectors, two of whom are women over 50 and teachers. (Only one of the women was ultimately detained.)

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“We will continue to make a point: that the oil industry has got a fight on its hands,” Anne Rolfes, executive director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade who witnessed all this, told Earther.

Allies quickly took to social media to let the arrest be known.

The sheriff’s office has already released both Foytlin and Sue Prevost, the other arrestee, with some citations. Neither is letting this shake them up.

“I had no intention of being arrested today,” Foytlin told Earther. “We all know that’s a possibility when we’re trying to stop the pipeline, but I feel like I was targeted in some ways. We’ve all been feeling that a lot down here with that new bill they’re trying to get through.”

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Cherri Foytlin being arrested Thursday.
Cherri Foytlin being arrested Thursday.
Photo: Courtesy of L’eau Est La Vie Camp

She’s talking about House Bill 727. Louisiana House of Representatives introduced it last week, and it’d criminalize people who “conspire” to trespass into private property. As The Intercept breaks down, this could include folks who didn’t actually break the law but folks who sorta’ helped plan out any actions that might involve trespassing or damaging infrastructure.

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Courts paused partial construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, led by Energy Transfer Partners (yes, the same company that built the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and would actually connect that pipeline to this one if Bayou Bridge is completed), in February, but the break was short-lived. An appeals court ordered construction to continue in March. So water protectors, who worry that the pipeline would pollute waterways and ruin the crawfishing industry, have been back on their direct actions. That means more blockades and, in turn, arrests.

This was a first for Prevost, who’s been arrested before but never placed in a holding cell. She’s ready for the next time.

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“The fact that this [oil] is coming from North Dakota, the fact that this is a continuation of DAPL, the fact that we as a country are allowing this to sneak through our most fragile lands and poison our most vulnerable communities is outrageous to me,” she told Earther. “I want to take action for the whole country, not just for my little space.”

Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.

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DISCUSSION

dnapl
Dense non aqueous phase liquid

Before Bill McKibben gets his fellow Middlebury College students and alumni all excited to go protest the Bayou Bridge pipeline. Let’s put the whole thing into context - pursuant to major pipeline project work breakdown structure of planning, design, construction and operations.

1) We have a president who may be efforting casus belli. Drums of war seem to be beating more loudly.

2) Bayou Bridge pipeline route is shown below:

3) The strategic petroleum reserve, while only 750 million barrels or so is not just a reserve onto itself. Trump wanted to sell it off until someone had to explain what it actually is. It’s the entire oil and gas infrastructure, i.e. Petroleum Administration Defence Districts (PADD).

Department of Energy administers the SPR and is discussed further here. Bayou Bridge is kinda close to SPR storage.

4) PADD map

So kids, be careful. Safety First!

One thing I did learn while making this dumb comment is that DoE contracts out management of the SPR to big engineering. Big oil & gas sector engineering and construction is buying up all the major environmental consultants, too. No wonder Trump was able to turtle the entire environmental protection agency so fast with just one oilpatch appointment.