Press Release | January 24, 2014

Conservation Groups File Lawsuit to Challenge Permitting for Oil Pipeline in Big Creek Lake Watershed

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit today, on behalf of Mobile Baykeeper, challenging a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Plains Southcap, LLC pipeline routed through the Big Creek Lake watershed.

The conservation groups charge that the Corps’ authorization of the crude oil pipeline’s route threatens the safety of the local water supply.

The 41-mile-long pipeline will transport 150,000 to 200,000 barrels per day (or 6.3 to 8.4 million gallons per day) of crude oil through the watershed of Big Creek Lake and Hamilton Creek, the primary drinking water source for a majority of Mobile County, as well as the cities of Mobile, Prichard, Semmes, Saraland, Chickasaw, Spanish Fort and numerous other municipalities.

“The law requires that a project of this magnitude go through a more rigorous and appropriate evaluation,” said Keith Johnston, managing attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Birmingham office.  “A crude oil pipeline within close proximity of the drinking water supply is a major concern and must be considered by the Army Corps in its permitting process.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved this pipeline in January 2013 under the nationwide permit program, a streamlined permitting process designed to approve projects with little environmental impact.

The challenge requests that the Corps withdraw the Nationwide 12 permit and require Plains Southcap, LLC to apply for and obtain an individual permit before completing construction of the pipeline.

The interstate pipeline is planned to stretch from Plains Southcap’s Ten-Mile Crude Oil Facility in Mobile, AL and extend southwest to the Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula, MS, approximately one mile from the Gulf of Mexico.

Local opposition to the project has continued to grow, and city and elected officials have expressed concerns over the pipeline’s proximity to the water supply and asked for alternative routes to be considered.  Along with local utility provider Daphne Utilities, several cities and towns including Mobile, Daphne, Prichard, Semmes, Spanish Fort, and Bayou La Batre have signed resolutions opposing a crude oil pipeline in their drinking water watershed.

Furthermore, the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System has fought against the condemnation of their land in the watershed.

“Pipelines aren’t foolproof, and it’s our communities who pay the price when they break,” said Casi Callaway, Executive Director for Mobile Baykeeper.  “What happened in West Virginia shows us just how important it is to protect our drinking water.”

To view the lawsuit, click here.

About Mobile Baykeeper, Inc.:

Mobile Baykeeper is a nonprofit environmental organization with over 4,000 members — all with a common interest in preserving and protecting the beauty, health and heritage of the Mobile Bay Watershed. Our priorities are clean water, clean air and healthy communities and our motto is Naturally, We’re for Progress. www.MobileBaykeeper.org