Kinder Morgan’s Palmetto Pipeline Project has generated a great deal of controversy in a relatively short time. It is opposed by some environmental groups and property owners in Georgia, who say it is environmentally unsound and sets a dangerous precedent given the company’s request to the Georgia Department of Transportation for the ability to use eminent domain.
It also is strongly opposed by The Colonial Group, a Savannah-based company which operates Colonial Oil and Enmark.
As all sides gear up for what could be a protracted and very public fight, the company blames part of the backlash against the Palmetto Pipeline project on its inability to get its message out to the public.
Kinder Morgan spokesman Allen Fore said the company is to blame for much of what he called “misinformation” and reporters were handed a two-page list of “frequently asked questions” about the pipeline following a presentation to the Development Authority of Bryan County Wednesday morning.
Here’s some of what it includes, though some of the information below is from recent hearings.
The Palmetto Pipeline extends 360 miles from Belton, South Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida. It’s part of an overall plan to move refined petroleum products from the Gulf of Mexico to Belton, Savannah and Jacksonville.
In Georgia, Bryan County is one of 12 counties which will include a portion of the pipeline, if it’s approved. Some 30 landowners in the county are being approached by Kinder Morgan to seek permission to survey their land.
The pipeline will carry a capacity of between 150,000 to 167,000 barrels of fuel per day.
If approved, construction will begin in the next spring, and the pipeline would start moving fuel in July 2017.
There are a number of state and federal agencies that have to approve the project for it to begin.
Those include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the South Carolina and Georgia Departments of Natural Resources and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The Georgia DOT also is involved.
About the company
Kinder Morgan owns and operates the Plantation Pipe Line Company in the Southeast, and that pipeline is one of the biggest in the U.S, delivering more than 600,000 barrels of fuel products over more than 3,100 miles of pipes. These connect to 130 terminals in eight states, and its customers are refiners, markets, the military and commercial-gas users.
Plantation was founded in 1940 and is headquartered in metro Atlanta.
The company already operates 3,000 miles of natural gas and petroleum products pipelines in 85 counties in Georgia.
As opponents point out, Kinder Morgan will be required to show there’s a need for the pipeline for the Georgia DOT to approve the company’s bid for the right to use eminent domain.
Kinder Morgan claims a need exists, saying the pipeline will be the first to metro Savannah and the Georgia coast, and it will foster competition. It also will help ensure energy independence, the company maintains.
The company said it already has customers lined up to move gas through its lines if the project goes through.
It has not said who those customers are, however.
Kinder Morgan doesn’t say whether that additional gas will lower prices in the area, noting that’s up to those who own the fuel it moves through its ports. It points to competition, however, as a reducer of prices.
The company claims at least half of the fuel it moves through the Palmetto Pipeline will stay in Georgia. Terminals will be set in North Augusta, South Carolina; Richmond Hill; and Jacksonville.
Kinder Morgan claims the pipeline will employ up to 1,200 construction jobs at its peak. It’s expected to cost around $1 billion, and officials say the investment in Bryan County alone would be anywhere from $60 million to $70 million.
The company will hire construction company contractors to build the pipeline. It’s unclear, however, how many will be local. Kinder Morgan says the workers will spend money locally on such things as meals, lodging and gas.
Environment and safety
Opponents have decried the company’s safety record and the Palmetto Pipeline’s potential impact on the region’s marshes and waterways, and a simple Internet search reveals the company has had a number of issues with its pipelines over the years.
But proponents say pipelines are the safest way to move fuel, and Kinder Morgan claims it is one of the safest operators in North America in an industry in which more than 99 percent of the fuel moved through pipelines gets safely to where it is intended to go.
Kinder Morgan also invites the public to look at safety reports on its website.
Right of way
The company says it expects to “co-locate” about 83 percent of the planned pipeline on existing pipeline or other utility easements. In Georgia, that’s 86 percent.
Finally, Kinder Morgan maintains none of the petroleum products will be exported outside the United States.