On Nov. 16, a Louisiana judge was slated to hold a preliminary hearing about the 162-mile pipeline that a privately-held fossil fuel company has already begun building across the Atchafalaya Basin and the southern part of the state. Both parties are fighting over whether the United States Constitution allows these types of companies to seize private citizen's property to install their pipelines.
Once finished, this pipeline is slated to connect the Dakota Access Pipeline directly to Louisiana refineries. Indigenous groups first voiced their opposition to this at Standing Rock in 2016.
The decision that the judge presiding over the Louisiana case ultimately makes has the potential of affecting how other similar lawsuits are settled across the rest of the country. Up until now, many for-profit companies have justified their attempts to seize private land by citing eminent domain laws. These allow the U.S. government to make deals to receive compensation in exchange for allowing private companies to do this.
Up until now, many of the rural landowners that have had their property seized haven't had the financial resources to fight back against these wealthy gas or oil drilling companies.
Work on the Bayou Bridge Pipeline was halted back in September after Phillips 66, Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco were all accused of trespassing onto a private 38 acres of swampland that they hadn't allegedly gained legal rights to. The decision whether work can continue at the site will ultimately be ruled on by the judge.
Natural gas and petroleum companies often find themselves as parties to lawsuits over property matters whether they center around environmental damage or lease, royalty or transaction disputes. In cases like this, it can be helpful to have a Lafayette oil and gas law attorney representing your interests that is experienced in working for both property owners and large energy companies.