ETP wreaks havoc and communities on the front lines pay the price.
Monday, September 10th, was a rough day for Energy Transfer Partners, the mega-bad-guys of the oil, gas, and plastics industry. What a shocker: the company notorious for pipeline spills, construction mishaps, and egregious violations of indigenous sovereignty and civil liberties is running into more problems.
INJUNCTION GRANTED IN LOUISIANA
Let’s start in Louisiana, where ETP has made headlines for pushing a draconian anti-protest law through the state legislature and then hiring off-duty cops as ‘private security’ to surveil, harass, and sometimes violently arrest pipeline opponents. In recent months, water protectors with the L’eau Est La Vie (water is life) camp were granted permission by owners of a 38-acre property to defend their land from ETP. These property owners have not given ETP permission to enter their property, and ETP never expropriated the land. Despite having no legal right to do so, ETP tore up acres of ancient cypress trees, dug a massive trench through the land, and laid pipe. Yet instead of holding ETP accountable for illegal construction, police brutally arrested pipeline opponents on the land and charged them with felonies under Louisiana’s new ETP-supported ‘critical infrastructure’ law.
But as it turns out, ETP and their rent-a-cops are not above the law. This morning, landowner Peter Aaslestad secured an injunction against Energy Transfer Partners in district court, barring them from further construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline on his family’s 38 acres. The injunction not only halts construction of the pipeline in the ecologically-sensitive Atchafalaya Basin, but it elevates the legal problems ETP and police could face for arresting activists on that property.
ETP PIPELINE EXPLOSION IN PENNSYLVANIA
Now let’s turn to Pennsylvania, where landowner and grandmother Ellen Sue Gerhart is still sitting in jail for peacefully opposing pipeline construction by ETP on her property. On September 3, 2018, ETP put its new Revolution pipeline into service, a 24” gas transmission line that feeds both the Mariner East and Rover pipelines. Both Mariner East and Rover have been environmental disasters, causing massive spills and poisoning residents’ well water. To add to the mess, early this morning the Revolution pipeline ruptured and exploded, sending a massive fireball in the air that incinerated a home, a barn, and numerous cars, and downed power lines in Beaver County. Thankfully no one was hurt, but that explosion is sure to heighten anxiety among residents and local governments along the route of the under-construction Mariner East 2 pipeline about the risks that project poses to public safety. As a high-pressure line carrying a mix of ethane, propane, and butane (called natural gas liquids, or NGLs), the Mariner East project has the potential to be even more volatile than the Revolution methane line.
Governor Tom Wolf, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Public Utilities Commission should expect a lot of anger and frustration from constituents who have long demanded a stop to Energy Transfer’s callous carnage to those in its way. With Pennsylvania already reeling from record flooding (thanks, climate change), additional pipeline disasters add serious stress on first responders and folks who live in the direct vicinity of oil and gas facilities.
ETP MAKES A MESS, THE FRONT LINES PAY THE PRICE
The story is all too familiar: ETP causes a mess, and its those on the front lines who pay the steepest price – with their bodies, land, air, and water. It’s up to all of us who care about human rights, indigenous sovereignty, climate justice, the rights of landowners, and our air and water to hold rogue companies like ETP to account. If you’re looking for ways to get involved, here is a list of what you can do:
- Donate to the L’eau Est La Vie camp and Ellen Gerhart’s legal defense fund
- Take action on September 18th as part of the Strike Down ETP Day of Action
- Come to Louisiana and help out on the ground
- Hold financiers like US Bank accountable for enabling ETP to build their dirty, dangerous pipelines
It was a bad week for ETP. Let’s make sure we hold them accountable.