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    Energy Transfer Partners is planning to
begin construction on a 162-mile-long pipeline to transfer crude oil from Lake
Charles to St. James Parish, both locations within Louisiana. There had been
violent protests and clashes at the Energy Transfer Partner’s last pipeline
project, the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Dakota Access Pipeline received
backlash due to the possibility of the pipeline dumping crude oil into drinking
water and burial sites on Native American territory. Today, the Energy Transfer
Partners are receiving the same backlash for their attempts to build the Bayou
Bridge Pipeline. This pipeline would not be posing a risk to drinking water,
rather an environmentally delicate area called the Atchafalaya Basin river
swamp. The Atchafalaya Basin river swamp is the nation’s largest river swamp,
being a national heritage site protected by the National Parks Service. It is
also one of the biggest crawfish producers in the US. However, the company
building the pipeline received the go-ahead from the US Army Corps of
Engineers; all they needed to begin construction. In the midst of the already
existing controversy, environmental groups have sued the Army Corps to block
construction. The environmental groups, led by Earthjustice as well as the
Sierra Club, the Waterkeeper Alliance, the Gulf Restoration Network, the
Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, and
the Native American-led group L’eau Est La Vie claim that the construction of
the 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 the
guidelines of their group, not to take an opinion on a debate.

   
Lasswell’s Model is a tool that helps with the understanding of
political situations such as the one involving the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. It
analyzes the who, what, and how of politics, or how people work to get their
beliefs into the political agenda of the government. 

Lasswell’s
Model can be used to evaluate both sides of the Bayou Bridge debate. Those who
want to block the construction of the pipeline, such as Earthjustice and the
Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, are the “who” of this side of the debate. Their “what”
is stopping the construction of the pipeline because they believe that it poses
an environmental hazard. They use methods such as protests and lawsuits against
the US Army Corps of Engineers as their “how.”

The
other side of the argument over the Bayou Bridge debate is not as clearly
displayed in Lasswell’s model. However, those who want the pipeline’s
construction to continue are one of the “whos” of this situation as well. They
are 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 as
well. The “what” of those who support the construction is the construction
continuing and the Army Corps of Engineers winning the lawsuit. The way they
will do this, being their “how”, is participating in the lawsuit and arguing in
their favor. They may use media exposure and intimidation since they have a
higher level of authority compared to the environmentalist groups to help their
goals be achieved.

Politically,
the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Energy Transfer Partners have the
advantage. They have already been able to get the correct permits to build the
pipeline, and as seen as in the Dakota Access Pipeline debate, this will be
enough 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 Transfer
Partners. The White House supports the use of crude oil and coal instead of
protecting the environment. However, environmentalists are shown to not stop
rallying until they have physically been forced to stop. The debate will
continue until the lawsuit has been settled and then the true side of
Lasswell’s Model in this situation will be revealed.

 

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