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Tell officials how you feel about pipeline
Roy Hubbard
Roy Hubbard, a Bryan County resident, is a former Green Beret who advocates for the environment and smaller, better government. - photo by File photo

Someone asked the question, “Is Buddy Carter beholden to oil?” Would approximately $400,000 from a super PAC in Texas that represents big-oil interests mean anything? After all, the folks in Texas want Georgia to have good representation in Washington.

Don’t count the $4,000-plus he got from Marathon Oil based here. They also are the best guess as to who would be shipping product through the proposed Palmetto Pipeline designed to create a huge tank farm and multiple other sites in Bryan County’s industrial park to control and mix product and add pressure to the petroleum pipeline.

Want to know what a tank farm looks like? Go to West Chatham along Bay Street. They spell reduced property values. Treating an explosion or leak at that tank farm would exempt our emergency services from doing much of anything because they are not trained to handle that kind of problem.

What a coincidence that the conference for big oil was held in Savannah right in sequence with the introduction of the idea of building a pipeline across hundreds of miles of Georgia wetlands, river basins and, last but not least, property forcefully taken from private citizens with what would have to be the governor’s blessing via the “eminent domain” rule.

The well-trained, smooth tongue of Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan’s vice president of public relations, will be multiplied many times over by representatives of big oil spreading the word as to what a boon it will be for all residents of Georgia.

Fore announced that many millions of dollars would be spent on Kinder Morgan’s expanded project for Bryan County. That is a misrepresentation of the truth. They would spend the millions, but it would be on materials and equipment purchased elsewhere and outside labor to build the site. They won’t be shopping at Ace Hardware.

Pipelines are built by highly specialized and trained personnel. That excludes local skilled labor unless, of course, you have been to pipeline school in Denver and belong to a pipeline-construction union.

The 1,200 part-time jobs KM hawks would be mainly outside labor. Fore throws us a bone by telling us that the workers will spend money in Richmond Hill as they pass through. Mr. Fore is a master at painting a rosy picture. That is what he gets paid to do.

There is currently a lawsuit in Delaware. KM is being sued by an investor for taking money out of maintenance funds to make its investment portfolio look better. Many in finance — The Wall Street Journal being one — and the industry are wondering how KM operates properly with its limited maintenance budget.

The leak in Belton, South Carolina, which is the same pipeline KM wants to extend down the Georgia coast, shows the results of mincing on maintenance money.

In December, a pipeline with 36-year-old sleeves had one let go. KM has now decided that it’s time to inspect all of them. Unfortunately, it’s after approximately 300,000 gallons of product has saturated the area, destroyed a lot of land and required the installation of recovery trenches and wells with approximately 2,832 tons of soil having to be completely removed. This nightmare still is going on.

One family canceled plans to grow a pecan orchard. The soil is permanently saturated with petroleum product.

Kinder Morgan’s claims of being a safety-minded company are consistently challenged.

In 2011, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation cited Kinder Morgan for:

1. Not having updated maps showing pipeline locations.

2. Failure to test pipeline safety devices.

3. Failure to maintain proper firefighting equipment.

4. Failure to inspect pipelines as required, i.e., the Belton spill.

5. Failure to adequately monitor pipes’ corrosion levels.

Kinder Morgan has a long history of pipeline failures. That, and the accusations of skimping on maintenance funding, leaves a serious question as to what kind of a company it is.

Effingham County already has refused Kinder Morgan access to any public land. With the negative information about this company provided to the political leadership in this state and the 18 counties affected, I don’t understand why the pipeline still is a possibility.

Add countless environmental issues. There literally is no other place on Earth where the pipeline would cross five freshwater rivers, many thousands of acres of wetlands, swamps, river basins and marshes within a 100-mile stretch. Kinder Morgan can’t do it without causing massive damage. Its soft-soap description of a very small, unobtrusive footprint is an exercise in deception.

Could it be true that it’s a backdoor deal at state level and everything else — the public meetings, the objections of the residents of Georgia — is all for show just to fulfill some legislative requirement to “inform the public” before they continue with what they intended to do all along?
For the power of eminent domain to be given to Kinder Morgan by our governor means the taking of private land by a giant corporation for its own profit. That is a violation of those individuals’ constitutional rights.

When questioned about eminent domain, Mr. Fore assured everyone that Kinder Morgan hoped to get all right-of-way without using that method. What he really is saying is that the company intends to have that power and will use it.

We could lose this battle. Get on the computer and phone and contact your local and state representatives. Let your position on this pending disaster be known. Ask questions. Check the facts. Demand that your representatives make their position public. Don’t accept it when they say all is well. It’s not.

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