SAVANNAH, GA – May 19, 2015 Today, Georgia’s prized coastline – tranquil, quiet and peaceful – won a battle that was anything but. Thanks to a decision handed down from Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry’s office, the proposed Palmetto Pipeline will be denied the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity that would have allowed energy giant Kinder Morgan to desecrate a wide swathe of the state’s beloved natural resources.
To build its pipeline across the Savannah River and down the Georgia coast, Kinder Morgan wanted to dig an enormous trench straight through nearly 400 properties in 12 of the Peach State’s counties. The $1 billion project would have routed gasoline, ethanol and diesel from the Gulf Coast and South Carolina to North Augusta, Savannah and Jacksonville.
When many of the property owners refused to allow Kinder Morgan to survey, the company tried to resort to eminent domain to secure the land it needed. However, because Kinder Morgan failed to prove, in accordance with Georgia law, that there is a public need for the pipeline, they’ll rightfully and justly be denied the ability to acquire interest in property against the will of the owners. The decision truly is an environmental victory for our region.
Earlier this year, Kinder Morgan had its law firm hold open houses, which they attempted to pass off as official DOT hearings. Furthermore, the corporation was less than upfront about its supposed “small spill” in Belton, South Carolina, during which 8,000 barrels of oil leaked into the environment. Kinder Morgan claimed it was just 8,000 gallons and when their discrepancy was made apparent, the company blamed the press, claiming it was “mistakenly reported.”
The Palmetto Pipeline drew opposition from every corner of Georgia, and even had conservative elected officials openly contesting the proposed defilement of the state’s pristine wetlands, marshes and waterways. Both Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle came out against the Palmetto Pipeline and encouraged McMurry and the DOT to disallow it.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper Emily Markesteyn praised McMurry for his decision, which clearly sends a message that Georgia absolutely will not stand for the destruction of its immaculate coastline.
“Commissioner McMurry is to be commended for his refusal to let Kinder Morgan annihilate some of our state’s most beautiful, prized natural resources,” Markesteyn said. “In addition to unfairly ousting many Georgians from their land, the Palmetto Pipeline would have endangered the coast by risking the safety of residents and wildlife, as well as the health of the ecosystem. Had the pipeline been put in place, a leak would have been environmentally catastrophic to the Peach State’s coastal region. We applaud the DOT for doing the right thing.”
Now that the certificate has been withheld, Georgia law allows Kinder Morgan to appeal to superior court. If the company’s vice president, Allen Fore, holds true to a statement he issued before McMurry’s decision, an appeal is imminent, which means the fight is far from over. Ogeechee Riverkeeper urges everybody to continue to voice opposition to this project in the hope that the state’s coast remains the eastern seaboard’s undisturbed crown jewel.
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