CLAIM: Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman claimed in a tweet that the permits for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline were issued illegally. “Oil will start flowing through the Bayou Bridge pipeline starting April 1. But the permits were issued illegally and we have a pending motion in federal court to shut it back down. This isn’t over,” Hasselman said.
A federal appeals court ruled last summer that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers complied with all applicable laws and regulations when it authorized permits for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. In a 19-page order, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals underscored the Corps’ voluminous review process that included numerous steps to mitigate potential impacts resulting from construction of the pipeline.
Because the court misperceived the applicable regulations, and the Corps’ analysis, properly understood, vindicates its decision that an Environmental Assessment sufficed under these circumstances, we vacate the preliminary injunction and remand to the district court.
The Ninth Circuit ruling was just one chapter in a yearslong effort by Hasselman to obstruct a legally permitted project from moving forward. Acting on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Hasselman has been behind a number of unsuccessful attempts to ensnare Bayou Bridge in frivolous litigation.
Most recently, Hasselman tried to exploit the federal government shutdown, pushing an emergency petition to halt construction while government attorneys were furloughed and unable to appropriately respond. The devious plan backfired when the government reopened earlier than expected and lawyers from the Department of Justice were able to expose the meritless injunction request.
A federal judge agreed, ruling in early February that Hasselman erred in waiting to present a series of alleged violations on behalf of Bayou Bridge until construction of the project was nearly complete.
The Court finds that the delay between knowledge of the harm and the filing of this motion undermines the urgency of the request. Additionally, it is undisputed that the construction in the Basin is near completion, and the request for relief may already be moot.
Hasselman is correct in stating that a pending motion regarding the pipeline remains before a federal court in Louisiana. However, based on what’s happened in the courtroom thus far, it’s unlikely this hail Mary attempt will go anywhere.