Ogeechee Riverkeeper Applauds DOT’s Denial of Pipeline Certificate

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.

– ENDS –


For media inquiries, visit www.lesleyfrancispr.com, call 912-429-3950 or email ashley@lesleyfrancispr.com or lesley@francis.com.


Updated – Palmetto Pipeline News

The Palmetto Pipeline debate continues despite a well-attended DOT public hearing, May 7. In a contributive effort, both Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle stated their opposition earlier in the day to the $1 billion project that would route gasoline, ethanol and diesel from the Gulf Coast and from South Carolina to North Augusta, Savannah, and Jacksonville, according to an article published in theSavannah Morning News.

Likewise, majority of the public rightfully remains opposed due to valid concerns about the lack of transparency detailed in the project long term as well as the obvious environmental impacts threatening the safety of the river.

Devastation is evident by looking at the 300,000-gallon gasoline spill near Belton, S.C. as an example of one possible determinant if the pipeline is pushed through. An article in The Florida Times-Union highlights the ineffective clean up attempt still in effect four months after the S.C. spill, stating less than 2/3 of the spilled gasoline has been recovered and removed. Additionally more than 2,832 tons of soil has been removed and treated off-site. Lingering effects remain, threatening the safety and sustainability of soil, lakes and water supplies.

The legality of eminent domain was another hot topic expressed at the hearing. If passed, Houston, TX-based Kinder Morgan Inc., the company proposing the pipeline, would be granted precedent in eminent domain.

K.C. Allen, Project Coordinator for #PushBackThePipeline, stated “the power to dispossess landowners from their property rights for the Palmetto Pipeline falls into one man’s hands– Georgia’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry. He gets the final say when issuing a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity allowing Texas-based Kinder Morgan to separate a man from his land. #‎PushBackThePipeline learned this by filing a Freedom of Information Request with D.O.T.”

The public has a voice and can take a stand by sending comments addressed to Russell McMurray. Comments must be received by mail by May 15 to the following address:

Georgia Department of Transportation

Russell McMurray

10th Floor Office of Utilities

600 West Peachtree Street, NW

Atlanta, GA 30308

If you’ve already submitted a comment via email, it is advised to print the email and mail to the above address.

Ogeechee Riverkeeper Emily Markesteyn believes the proposed project could risk property rights as well as the natural resources we hold most dear.

“Kinder Morgan’s request to DOT is incomplete at best and leaves many unanswered questions as to the public need of this project. It is not in Georgia’s best interest to allow such a risky endeavor,” she said.

Stay up-to-date by following #‎PushBackThePipeline.