FRANKLIN -- A hotly contested debate over the ownership of a portion of land in the Atchafalaya Basin as been decided as of Dec. 6.
Landowners of a 38-acre portion of wetlands recently disputed the takeover of the land by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), a group that is working to complete the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. Judge Keith Comeaux of the 16th District Court in St. Mary Parish ruled the company had the right to seize the land to complete the project.
The energy company previously sought to seize the land, but were met with disapproval and an unwillingness to cooperate by the landowners, who claimed that ETP lacked the credentials to seize the property. According to Nola.com, the judge ruled the company had been in the wrong when they previously assumed ownership of the land and cut trees to begin the construction work despite ultimately choosing to grant the parcel to them.
Tyler Gray with Louisiana Midcontinent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA) believes the decision was a fair one.
"Luckily, Louisiana has a process when there’s disagreement among multiple landowners, and in this case there could be as many as 700 owners, nearly all of which allowed the construction on their property," Gray told Louisiana Record.
The judge in the case decided to compensate the landowners each $150 for the seizure of their land.
"Not only was this process followed to grant the right of way, but it was affirmed by district judge. LMOGA applauds the fair and judicious decision," Gray said.
ETP said the procedure is 90 percent completed. The landowners, identified as the Center for Constitutional Rights and Atchfalaya Basinkeeper, still seek to overturn the expropriation and remove the pipeline.