By Zachary Fitzgerald, LSN Writer, Abbeville Meridional
The past few years haven't been good on the public relations front for oil and gas pipeline projects. with the expected expansion of a major pipeline through Louisiana, a propane industry spokesman says now is a critical time for pipeline proponents to win the battle of ideas.
Randy Hayden, a spokesman for the state's propane industry, discussed the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline from Texas to Louisiana during Monday's St. Mary Industrial Group meeting.
Propane is produced by refining oil from natural gas, so that industry is concerned about getting oil and gas to refineries, Hayden said.
The Bayou Bridge Pipeline currently delivers crude oil from facilities in Nederland, Texas, to facilities and refineries in Lake Charles. Energy Transfer Partners is the main company involved in the pipeline expansion.
The $750 million expansion will allow the Bayou Bridge Pipeline to connect to an existing market in St. James, according to a project fact sheet. The new segment of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline will consist of about 163 miles of buried pipe and will run from Lake Charles to St. James to deliver an eventual capacity of up to 480,000 barrels per day, the fact sheet says.
Eleven parishes will be directly affected by the pipeline, but S. Mary is not among them, Hayden said.
Years ago, a project such as this one would have been approved by the state departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "without any problems at all," Hayden said.
Bu, now, things have changed.
Results of protests of the Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipeline in the past two years have "emboldened" protestors to continue their fight against oil and gas pipelines, Hayden said.
The Dakota "protests has been said to have reshaped the national conversation regarding pipelines and the Native American lands," Hayden said.
Protesters' momentum has carried over to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline project. A few hundred protestors attended a public hearing in Baton Rouge for the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The pipeline protestors are well-organized, well-funded, media-savvy and "passionate about what they do," Hayden said.
The oil and gas industry has to do a better job of communicating its message to the public. Louisiana has thousands of miles of pipelines already in the state, Hayden said.
"We know how to do pipelines, and we know how to do them safely," Hayden said.
Using pipelines is the safest and most cost-effective way currently available to transport oil, Hayden said.
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