This morning, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GA DOT) denied Kinder Morgan's certificate to build the Palmetto Pipeline, which essentially means that Kinder Morgan will not have the power to declare eminent domain on Georgia landowners.
Click here to read the statement from the GA DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry.
This is good news and it is proof that the people of Georgia have a voice. It is also proof that approximately 3000 public comments submitted online and emails are very effective in an issue such as this. It is also proof that meetings attended by hundreds of concerned citizens are very effective at quelling corporate tyranny.
From Commissioner McMurry's statement:
After careful consideration of information in the application submitted by Kinder Morgan on behalf of Palmetto; numerous public comments submitted at seven (7) public meetings held by Palmetto; two (2) public hearings hosted by the Georgia DOT; and approximately 3000 public comments submitted online and by mail to myself and the Utilities staff, the Department has determined that it will not issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. The basis for the decision is outlined in our correspondence to Palmetto Products Pipe Line LLC.
This is a victory for Georgia landowners and it also proves the fact that there is power in numbers! The Palmetto Pipeline could have had a devastating effect on the environment and it could have invited a disturbing trend of eminent domain by corporations. Georgia landowners cannot allow this to happen. Our land is precious and the coastline, wetlands, rivers, birds and wildlife cannot afford more pollution and devastation.
Georgia cannot afford more environmental contamination.
Even though we have received good news on the Palmetto Pipeline issue, the battle for land in Georgia is not over yet. The battle to stop environmental contamination is not over - not by a long shot.
We need to turn our attention to the Sabal Trail Pipeline in Southwest Georgia. This proposed pipeline would be constructed throughout three states - Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Please help our friends in Southwest Georgia defeat the corporate tyranny efforts of Spectra Energy.
If you're not familiar with the tyrannical efforts of Spectra Energy, here is an overview to explain the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) Pipeline that they're proposing to build, to include suing farm families in Southwest Georgia.
Spectra Energy is a Fortune 500 company based in Houston, Texas. They say that they are one of North America’s leading natural gas, natural gas liquids and crude oil infrastructure companies. Their claim to fame — It builds pipelines to ship natural gas. It builds storage facilities to hold natural gas. It distributes natural gas.
From their website, they are proposing the Sabal Trail Pipeline Project:
Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC (Sabal Trail), a joint venture of Spectra Energy Corp and NextEra Energy, Inc., is an interstate natural gas pipeline project that will be able to transport over 1 billion cubic feet (per day) of natural gas over an approximate 500 mile distance between Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Transportation services for FP&L’s power generation needs will begin in May 2017. In addition, Sabal Trail and Duke Energy of Florida (“DEF”) have executed a precedent agreement for Sabal Trail to provide transportation services to DEF’s proposed new power plant to be located in Citrus County, Florida.
Spectra Energy also sues landowners. Yes, not only is ditching and welding, pipe and shut off valves necessary to Spectra’s construction process, suing landowners is part of the mix.
But wait, let’s hear from Spectra Energy. On their spiffy website, sporting a wonderful picture of a Pronghorn, they are clear about how they thrive. Please note. Spectra looks beyond success. They intend to thrive. And, they tell us right up front how they plan to do it. “By achieving the right balance among, economic, environmental and social considerations to stakeholders like you.”
What they failed to note. What they didn’t even mention about thriving and balance and social considerations — they gladly sue farm families in Georgia. One Spectra Energy generated trial begins on May 28, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. at the Courthouse Annex in Moultrie, Georgia.
Why would a $15 Billion Dollar energy company sue a farm family?
The answer is painfully simple. This family, clearly outside the Spectra’s understanding of stakeholder, is in Spectra Energy’s way. They refuse to do what Spectra wants them to do. They have taken issue with Spectra’s plan to claim, for its use, a 100 foot wide strip of land through their farm. This farm family has no interest in having their land ripped up to accommodate a 36” natural gas pipeline. Clearly, they have not warmed to the idea of living in close proximity to a pipeline that could be a threat to their safety; or worse, a potential ticking time bomb.
So, Specta Energy is suing this family. The company’s understanding of “balance” is clear. Give Spectra what it wants and there is balance. Refuse the energy company and they will turn your well-ordered life into a chaotic mess.
If you think this energy company isn’t serious about their version of thriving and their brand of balance, they have not only sued this one Colquitt County farm family, they have sued “another dozen landowners". Another dozen!
A bull is rampaging in a china shop.
Spectrabusters is actively opposing the Sabal Trail Gas Pipeline. Please support this organization in their efforts as they oppose the pipeline, proposed to run from Alabama to Florida. This pipeline would feed an FPL power plant in Florida for no benefit to citizens of Alabama or Georgia, while tearing a 100 foot wide right of way through all three states.
Palmetto Pipeline: Questions that Must be Answered.
Palmetto Products Pipe Line LLC (a Kinder Morgan company) filed for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in January 2015.
1. Why were the first six public meetings managed by representatives of Palmetto Products Pipe Line with the public response going to their corporate lawyers?
2. Why, only after a public complaint, did the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) sponsor its first public hearing?
3. Why does Palmetto Products Pipe Line, a for-profit corporation, think it has a right to Eminent Domain in Georgia?
Please note - understandingEminent Domain is critical. The origin of Eminent Domain is from ideas developed by a Dutch jurist, Hugo Grotius, in 1625.
"... The property of subjects is under the eminent domain of the state, so that the state or he who acts for it may use and even alienate and destroy such property, not only in the case of extreme necessity, in which even private persons have a right over the property of others, but for ends of public utility, to which ends those who founded civil society must be supposed to have intended that private ends should give way. But it is to be added that when this is done the state is bound to make good the loss to those who lose their property."
4. Why would the state of Georgia align itself with a corporation and against its citizens by granting that corporation; in this case, Kinder Morgan, the severe powers of Eminent Domain?
When I spoke with the Governor’s office, why was the Palmetto Pipeline project described as:
“a collaboration between a private company and the Georgia DOT”.
Collaboration as defined at Wikipedia is the “process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals.” Shared goals?
5. Has the Georgia DOT already decided to grant Eminent Domain to Palmetto Products Pipe Line while using the public hearings as little more than window dressing?
6. Why has Palmetto Products Pipe Line failed repeatedly to demonstrate and document the need for the pipeline?
The burden to prove need rests with Palmetto. Think about it. No evidence has come to light to date that the citizens of Georgia approached Kinder Morgan concerning the construction of a pipeline. No evidence to date has come to light indicating that the landowners along the proposed route approached Kinder Morgan concerning the construction of a pipeline.
No evidence has come to light that the government of Georgia approached Kinder Morgan expressing a need for a pipeline. The pipeline is Kinder Morgan’s idea. Why do they refuse to demonstrate need?
7. Why does the Georgia government persist in ignoring the fact that Kinder Morgan has not demonstrated a need for the pipeline?
Palmetto Products Pipe Line uses general, abstract and undocumented statements to do little more than describe the project. But, when it comes to money, like rate structures and documentation, arguing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s jurisdiction related to denatured fuel ethanol or the rehab of the Belton, South Carolina site pipeline, the documentation runs on for over 100 pages.
8. Again, why no demonstration of need for the pipeline?
Kinder Morgan only supports its financial needs.
9. Why, even before the Georgia DOT makes its decision, has the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted approval of the Palmetto Petition for Declaratory Order?
According to the FERC personnel that I spoke with, states rights govern the approval of the actual “siting” (their word) of a pipeline. Yet, upon reading the FERC document, they have clearly given defacto agreement to its construction. (See paragraph 33 of the FERC approval)
Governor Deal is on record and states on his website that “…we will continue to promote stewardship to ensure that Georgia retains its pristine environment for future generations…”
10. Why has there been no environmental impact studies in relationship to the pipeline construction? Where is the “stewardship of Georgia’s pristine environment reflected in any of the DOT proceedings to date?
The Governor's office number is 404-656-1776.
Why not call and ask?
Websites, blogs and newspapers that DO NOT support the Palmetto Pipeline. The following links support the conservation and environmental concerns of the state of Georgia, to include the issue of Eminent Domain:
We were driving down a country road in rural Georgia when we saw something standing in the road. As we got closer, we realized that it was an owl, and a very young owl. We grabbed our camera, turned around and drove back to get a closer look. About that time, a pickup truck came barreling down the road a little too fast and the gust of wind from the truck knocked the little owl backwards. We were worried that he was hurt, but he bounced right back up.
"Oh boy, here we go.....they're getting closer, they have a camera, and why is that lady talking baby-talk to me? People, they are so strange!"
We moved our jeep to his side of the road, hoping that he would move so that he wouldn't be hit by a car. While we were encouraging him to move, this adorable juvenile Barred Owl posed for a few pictures.
We don't always see the backside of birds, but this juvenile Barred Owl is even handsome from this angle. He finally hopped over to some trees and disappeared into the woods.
Their voice is the most characteristic of all the owls. The loud, hooting, rhythmic, laughing call is heard mostly in spring but also throughout the year: "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?" They are frequently called "Old Eight Hooter".
They are an uncommon permanent breeding resident statewide in Georgia. Barred Owls are usually most active between midnight and 4:00 a.m., when the forest floor rustles with the movement of mice, cotton rats and shrews.
(Source: Birds of Georgia by Parrish, Beaton & Kennedy)
Copyright 2015, Curtis and Norma Beaird. All rights reserved.
We are writing this article because we are very concerned about the proposed Palmetto Pipeline to be built in the state of Georgia. Kinder Morgan plans to build 360-mile pipeline that will run from Belton, South Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida. According to the Savannah Riverkeeper, 218 miles of the pipeline will be in Georgia and 142 miles of the pipeline will be built in South Carolina. This pipeline would move refined petroleum products, to include denatured fuel ethanol.
The map above is from the Savannah Riverkeeper website.As you can see from the map, Kinder Morgan's Palmetto Pipeline is projected to run through twelve counties in Georgia. It will affect the watershed of five rivers and the property of 396 landowners, to include the possibility of Kinder Morgan taking private property through eminent domain, if approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
In the continental U.S., there are only 42 free-flowing rivers greater than 124 miles in length. Georgia contains five of these rivers, three of which are in the path of the proposed pipeline, Altamaha, Ogeechee, and Satilla Rivers. The Okefenokee Swamp is also the headwaters of the St. Marys and the Suwanee River, which flows to the Gulf of Mexico.
Filing to FERC submitted by Dr. Curtis L. Beaird, Jr.
RE: Kinder Morgan & Palmetto Products Pipeline LLC
Kinder Morgan of Houston,Texas is seeking, through Palmetto Products Pipeline LLC, a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the State of Georgia to construct a pipeline that will negatively affect all five wetlands in the state, impact Georgia’s landowners; and, as presently routed, be built near a fault line.
According to the Savannah Riverkeeper:
• The project crosses the watersheds of 5 major rivers and freshwater coastal wetlands, which could contaminate drinking water, wells and water resources in the event of an accident.
• The pipeline is expected to cross the Revolutionary War battle site at Brier Creek in Screven County, Georgia, where an estimated 150 Americans died and are buried to this day.
• The pipeline’s path through the Savannah River basin endangers not only today’s natural resources, but also historical and archaeological artifacts still uncovered.
• Digging, planting and other uses of the land by the landowner are prohibited once a pipeline is in place; however the landowner must continue to pay taxes on the property. Not only that, but the landowner becomes financially responsible for securing proper methods of crossing the easement (i.e. bridges, etc.) on their own property, with any vehicle, tractors etc.
This project negatively affects 396 landowners and 12 counties in the state of Georgia.
According to Push Back the Pipeline, the following waters are at risk:
• Lower Savannah River Basin
• Ogeechee River Basin
• Altamaha River Basin
• Satilla River Basin
• St. Mary’s River
• Okefenokee Watershed
The Okefenokee is the headwaters of the St. Mary’s River that drains into Atlantic Ocean and the Suwanee River that drains into the Gulf of Mexico. The Okefenokee is the largest freshwater swamp (watershed) in the world.
While this information may be outside the perview of FERC, it is important to note that at the public meeting on April 21, 2015 in Richmond Hill, Georgia, it was reported that 528 people were in attendance. According to the April 22, 2015 Effingham Herald Online Edition, essentially, the Kinder Morgan representative was the only “positive spin” on the 360-mile pipeline.
“speaker after speaker stood up before a packed room to voice opposition to the pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s application to the Georgia Department of Transportation for a certificate of necessity and convenience.”
Given the potential for this kind of context, one wonders why the State of Georgia allowed Kinder Morgan to conduct six open houses with public comment going to Kinder Morgan attorneys. The Kinder Morgan-lead public hearings ceased following the clarification by Georgia’s Attorney General, as reported in the Online Edition of the Savannah Morning News on April, 19, 2015.
“Because the applicant (Kinder Morgan) ran the meetings, many questioned whether those open houses sufficed as the required hearing. The Georgia DOT sought advice from the state attorney general’s office and though it won’t reveal what it was told, citing attorney-client privilege, Tuesday’s hearing was announced after the legal advice was received.”
Unsupported and undocumented “Benefits” and uncertain, negative implications for competition:
1. Palmetto claims the pipeline will promote competition. (page 6 of the petition) This is virtually a cliche. The case could be made for a monopoly being created by way of the four-tier pricing structure that Palmetto is planning.
2. The Palmetto presence “could serve to decrease prices to consumers”. This is an undocumented claim and one that is unsupported on the record.
For the pipeline to have even the mere potential to increase competition that “could” lead to lower prices, two things must be true:
1) The pipeline must lower the cost of transporting petroleum products from the U.S. Gulf Coast to consumer markets relative to existing supply chain options (currently pipeline-to-truck and waterborne-to- truck supply options exist); and
2) The pipeline must be open to fair competition with equal access for shippers of all sizes.
Existing refined petroleum pipelines serving Georgia have one rate for all shippers regardless of size. The Palmetto Pipeline would institute a multi-tiered system that advantages large shippers over smaller ones. This fundamentally shifts what has always been a level playing field on refined products pipelines serving Georgia.
Given that the pipeline is capable of shipping more product into destination markets like Savannah (25,000bbls) and Jacksonville (100,000bbls+) than these markets currently consume, it is clear that this pipeline is intended to introduce replacement competition as opposed to additional competition. Therefore, an oligopoly would be created if large shippers were given pricing advantages against smaller shippers, particularly considering theselarge shippers may control access to the pipeline in one of two ways:
1) at origin through their refineries or 2) through line space allocation on a feeder pipeline (the Plantation).
Lack of competition would prevent consumers from realizing any savings.
Given the uncertain climate and the obvious possibility for confusion in Georgia associated with process, it would be beneficial if FERC could clarify its authority over oil product pipelines.
I have anecdotal evidence that there is some confusion that FERC’s approval of Palmetto Products Pipeline LLC—Petition for Declaratory Order, Docket No. OR15-13, could be understood as approval of the actual construction of the pipeline.
Timing of this clarification is critical. The Georgia DOT Commissioner is on record stating that following the next public meeting on May 7, 2015 in Waynesboro, Georgia, the written public response to the proposed pipeline will be received through May 15, 2015 and his decision would follow on May 19, 2015.
The Palmetto Products Pipeline has asked that FERC make its decision by April 30, 2015. (See page 55 of the petition)
If it is assumed on the part of any Georgia decision maker that the FERC action on the Palmetto Petition is in any way approval for the actual construction of the pipeline, it could be construed as support of Palmetto’s request for Eminent Domain in Georgia. A FERC jurisdiction clarification would help circumvent this issue.
I respectfully request that the FERC clarify their jurisdiction relative to oil products pipelines.
Do you want the state of Georgia to give the power of eminent domain to a for-profit corporation that will enable them to take your land?
Do you really want to risk contaminating our drinking water?
Do you want to risk the beautiful birds and wildlife in the state of Georgia?
Do you want to risk polluting our rivers?
Do you want to risk damaging our wetlands?
One of Georgia's native birds, the Great Egret. The Great Egret is a common to abundant breeding resident in the Coastal Plain and abundant on the Coast.
Decisions will be made soon on the building of the pipeline. The following information comes from the Savannah Riverkeeper.
DOT Public Hearings
Notice of Application for Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
Notice is hereby given that Palmetto Products Pipe Line LLC filed an application with the Georgia Department of Transportation to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. The certificate would confirm the need for Palmetto to construct a pipeline to run from the South Carolina-Georgia state line to the Georgia-Florida state line.
The pipeline project will involve the following counties in Georgia: approximately 2 miles in Richmond; 25 miles in Burke; 34 miles in Screven; 39 miles in Effingham; 12 miles in Chatham; 7 miles in Bryan; 18 miles in Liberty; 2 miles in Long; 17 miles in McIntosh; 24 miles in Glynn; 18 miles in Camden; and 12 miles in Charlton.
DOT Official Palmetto Pipeline Hearing to be held Thursday, May 7 in Waynesboro, GA at the Augusta Technical College campus auditorium at 5:00 p.m.
If you cannot attend the hearing, but would still like to submit your comments, you may send a letter to:
Georgia Department of Transportation 10th Floor Office of Utilities 600 West Peachtree Street, NW Atlanta, Georgia 30308
Submit comments before May 15.
Please add “Re: Palmetto Pipeline” after the address and before your actual comments. Let your voice be heard and send DOT and Kinder Morgan the message - Georgia does not need this pipeline.
You may also send a letter to Commissioner Russell McMurry at the following email address:
We have researched some very important information that describe in detail the plans for Kinder Morgan's proposed Palmetto Pipeline and the negative effects on the state, to include valuable information for the citizens of Georgia.
To read the articles, click on each of the links below.
As citizen scientists who promote avian conservation, we are happy to report that we have submitted over 500 checklists to eBird for Montgomery County, Georgia!
Since February 2012, we have documented and assisted with the preservation of rural Georgia's avian population. We have utilized various means of support such as photographing, identification, feeding and providing water resources for local birds and for migrants who arrive during migration season. During nesting season, we install nest boxes for the Eastern Bluebird species.
In addition, as we photograph and identify each species, we submit reports during the week to eBird. These reports help with the research for The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We also document our findings and research, accompanied by photographs, to this blog and our photography website.
Our hope is that we will encourage everyone to actively support the preservation of Georgia's beautiful avian population so that future generations may enjoy the wonders of nature.
Copyright 2015, Curtis and Norma Beaird. All rights reserved.