U.S. appeals court approves ETP's Bayou Bridge pipeline construction

March 16 (Reuters) - The U.S. appeals court on Friday overturned a District Court’s preliminary injunction that prevented construction on part of Energy Transfer Partners LP’s Bayou Bridge crude oil pipeline in the Atchafalaya Basin.

In February U.S. district judge Shelly Dick issued a temporary injunction preventing work on an extension to the Bayou Bridge system, revoking a permit and siding with environmentalists and fishermen who expressed concerns about its potential effect on the local economy and wildlife.

“Judge Dick’s ruling ran counter to the collective efforts of federal, state, and local regulatory officials, who thoroughly reviewed – and ultimately approved – the Bayou Bridge Pipeline for construction,” Friday’s court filing said.

The disputed 162-mile (261-km) pipeline is an extension to an existing line, which transports crude from Nederland, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana. The new segment would extend the system to St. James, Louisiana, and have capacity to transport up to 480,000 barrels per day of oil.

The project is 60 percent owned by ETP with the remainder controlled by refiner Phillips 66.

Energy Transfer Partners on Friday said it was pleased with the court ruling and would begin mobilizing for construction activities as soon as possible.

One of the three judges that heard the appeal filed a dissent, agreeing with the District Court’s ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated the law when issuing permits for the pipeline.

Groups opposing the pipeline vowed to continue fighting.

“Today’s ruling is a setback but it’s not the end of this fight,” Jan Hasselman, an attorney for Earthjustice, the group representing the plaintiffs, said in a release.

Energy Transfer Partners last year prevailed over environmental and Native American groups that had temporarily blocked construction of its Dakota Access Pipeline, a separate line that transports crude from North Dakota to a pipeline system terminating on the U.S. Gulf Coast. (Reporting by Liz Hampton and Swati Verma Editing by Susan Thomas)