Inspired by the Standing Rock movement, the Indigenous communities, along with environmental justice groups in southern Louisiana are resisting the 163-mile-long Bayou Bridge pipeline, essentially the "tail end of the Dakota Access pipeline."
A new resistance “floating" camp opened on June 24, named "Water Is Life" sits among Louisiana's wetlands. The southern Louisiana-based camp primarily comprising of the Indigenous and environmental activists contain numerous Indigenous art structures on rafts.
Its name, "L’eau Est La Vie," is derived from the Indigenous-colonial Houma-French language. The United Houma Nation is one of the tribes whose members are challenging the pipeline.
For the first two weeks, the prayer and resistance camp will be engaging in a prayer ceremony. Cherri Foytlin, state director of Bold Louisiana and an Indigenous woman told Colorlines, “Someone is praying at all times at the camp for the next two weeks."
According to the camp, the Bayou Bridge pipeline is in the stages of receiving permits, and the Energy Transfer Partners — the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline — is pressing the construction of Bayou Bridge pipeline to bring the Dakota Access to its full potential.
The Bayou Bridge pipeline is strategic as it would carry North Dakota’s fracked oil to the Gulf of Mexico.
The pipeline system, collectively called the Bakken pipeline, would bring the oil to Nederland, Texas, and then to Lake Charles, Louisiana. The idea is to expand the existing system to St. James. According to Colorlines, ETP wants the crude oil from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, that runs through the Dakota Access to Illinois, to ultimately end up at terminal facilities and refineries in St. James, Louisiana.
According to L’eau Est La Vie's Facebook page, Energy Transfer's proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline is in violation of the Louisiana State Constitution as "it endangers drinking water, would destroy life-giving and protecting wetlands, and continue to injure the 'health, safety, and welfare' of environmental justice communities and landowners along the route."
“This is part of protecting ourselves and liberating ourselves from (Energy Transfer Partners) in particular,” Foytlin said. “It should have its social license revoked. They don’t deserve to keep doing business.”
"Some of that trauma that we have in our genes is also the resistance that we have in our genes," Foytlin added.
It will also take over private lands and worsen the flooding situation in the region. According to Colorlines, the pipeline will carry 480,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The Indigenous communities, environmentalists and landowners in the region are concerned that a spill will impact the local crawfishing industry and the private land will be taken over by ETP as in several other states where the pipeline project has flourished.
Climate refugees from regions like Isle De Jean Charles and Choctaw Biloxi Chitimacha in southern Louisiana are being pushed out as nearly 98 percent of its land is gone, mostly owing to coastal erosion and rising sea levels.
In 2002, the Army Corps of Engineers made changes to the originally planned route of the 72-mile Morganza to Gulf Hurricane Protection System due to cost constraints, causing Isle de Jean Charles to become excluded from the protected zone, according to the Guardian.