Energy Transfer Partners is planning tobegin construction on a 162-mile-long pipeline to transfer crude oil from LakeCharles to St. James Parish, both locations within Louisiana. There had beenviolent protests and clashes at the Energy Transfer Partner’s last pipelineproject, the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Dakota Access Pipeline receivedbacklash due to the possibility of the pipeline dumping crude oil into drinkingwater and burial sites on Native American territory. Today, the Energy TransferPartners are receiving the same backlash for their attempts to build the BayouBridge Pipeline. This pipeline would not be posing a risk to drinking water,rather an environmentally delicate area called the Atchafalaya Basin riverswamp.
The Atchafalaya Basin river swamp is the nation’s largest river swamp,being a national heritage site protected by the National Parks Service. It isalso one of the biggest crawfish producers in the US. However, the companybuilding the pipeline received the go-ahead from the US Army Corps ofEngineers; all they needed to begin construction. In the midst of the alreadyexisting controversy, environmental groups have sued the Army Corps to blockconstruction. The environmental groups, led by Earthjustice as well as theSierra Club, the Waterkeeper Alliance, the Gulf Restoration Network, theAtchafalaya Basinkeeper, the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, andthe Native American-led group L’eau Est La Vie claim that the construction ofthe pipeline would violate the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws.
The Corps has only commented that they do not support or oppose the project,insisting that it is their job to affirm that projects would follow theguidelines of their group, not to take an opinion on a debate. Lasswell’s Model is a tool that helps with the understanding ofpolitical situations such as the one involving the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. Itanalyzes the who, what, and how of politics, or how people work to get theirbeliefs into the political agenda of the government. Lasswell’sModel can be used to evaluate both sides of the Bayou Bridge debate. Those whowant to block the construction of the pipeline, such as Earthjustice and theAtchafalaya Basinkeeper, are the “who” of this side of the debate. Their “what”is stopping the construction of the pipeline because they believe that it posesan environmental hazard.
They use methods such as protests and lawsuits againstthe US Army Corps of Engineers as their “how.” Theother side of the argument over the Bayou Bridge debate is not as clearlydisplayed in Lasswell’s model. However, those who want the pipeline’sconstruction to continue are one of the “whos” of this situation as well.
Theyare the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Energy Transfer Partners. Their”what” and “how” are different than those who want to block the pipeline aswell. The “what” of those who support the construction is the constructioncontinuing and the Army Corps of Engineers winning the lawsuit. The way theywill do this, being their “how”, is participating in the lawsuit and arguing intheir favor. They may use media exposure and intimidation since they have ahigher level of authority compared to the environmentalist groups to help theirgoals be achieved. Politically,the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Energy Transfer Partners have theadvantage.
They have already been able to get the correct permits to build thepipeline, and as seen as in the Dakota Access Pipeline debate, this will beenough to swing the lawsuit in the pipeline supporter’s direction. As well,with the current White House, the support will likely go to the Energy TransferPartners. The White House supports the use of crude oil and coal instead ofprotecting the environment. However, environmentalists are shown to not stoprallying until they have physically been forced to stop.
The debate willcontinue until the lawsuit has been settled and then the true side ofLasswell’s Model in this situation will be revealed.