UPDATE | Kinder Morgan files appeal on pipeline ruling

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Kinder Morgan has filed a petition challenging a ruling made by the Georgia Department of Transportation which does not allow the company forcibly take private property from homeowners for the Palmetto Pipeline without permission.

The statement below was released to News 12 Wednesday:

"Today Kinder Morgan filed a petition for review in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, regarding the DOT’s decision to deny Palmetto’s application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. As we move forward in the process as outlined by the Georgia legislature, we will continue to communicate regularly with stakeholders, including impacted landowners, elected officials and communities, because we believe this project serves the best interests of consumers in the state of Georgia and the Southeast region. We and our shippers remain committed to bringing an alternate source of supply to these markets, and we will continue to make every effort to reach mutually beneficial agreements with stakeholders. For more information on the project, please visit www.palmettopipelinefacts.com."



News 12 at 6 o' clock/ May 19, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga.(WRDW) -- Georgia DOT decides Kinder Morgan can not forcibly take your property at fair market value. If they want the land, Kinder Morgan must negotiate with each property owner.

While a lot of property owners in Georgia are breathing a sigh of relief, land owners across the river in South Carolina are scratching their heads.

"It is totally shocking that they can actually do this to a landowner. It doesn't even make sense in any way to me," says Ronnie Sterling, a property owner in North Augusta.

Sterling and his neighbors are doing everything they can to keep Kinder Morgan from taking their property.

"At the moment, my stance is, at my age and as hard as I've worked all my life for my land, I'm not going to be pushed around by Kinder Morgan," says Sterling.

But, since he lives on the South Carolina side of the river, he doesn't have much of a say. Georgia law requires companies to get a permit from the DOT before being able to invoke eminent domain, but in South Carolina, that law doesn't exist.

Tonya Bonitatibus, the Savannah Riverkeeper, is working with law makers to change that. "There's been a joke in the office for a long time, in Georgia, the laws on the books are really good. We just don't do a great job of enforcing them. In South Carolina, there just aren't laws," she says.

But the Savannah Riverkeeper says, right now, it is a joke no one is laughing about, because it is a very real problem for property owners like Ronnie Sterling in the Palmetto state.

"Basically, what they're trying to tell me is I don't have a foothold to stand on," says Sterling.

"I hope we will get a bill passed or something to allow for a permitting process such as the one that just played out in Georgia," says Bonitatibus.

But, voters are skeptical a new law will be able to help them.

"As we know, a law is not going to be put into effect immediately do us any good," says Sterling.

In the meantime, property owners are trying to do everything they can to keep surveyors from Kinder Morgan off their land. While owners keep watch over their property, they're just hoping Georgia's decision will slow Kinder Morgan down, or stop the project altogether.

Kinder Morgan released a statement today in response to GDOT's decision:
Kinder Morgan, Inc. (NYSE: KMI) today announced it received notification that the Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) declined its application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity associated with the proposed Palmetto Pipeline.

"We are disappointed with the outcome of our proceedings with the Georgia DOT. We believe that we have more than adequately demonstrated that this project is in the best interests of Georgia's consumers, as it will result in lower costs and provide safer transportation of refined petroleum products to many areas in the Southeast, including specifically many communities in Georgia," said Kinder Morgan Products Pipelines President Ron McClain. "The fact the proposed pipeline is fully supported by long-term commitments from multiple customers seeking safer and more efficient supply options, and that it was so vehemently opposed by certain existing refined petroleum suppliers with vested economic interests in maintaining the status quo of artificially higher prices, is itself compelling evidence that the pipeline will serve needs that are not being met by current supply options. We continue to believe in the viability of the project and its economic benefits to the Southeast region and Georgia in particular, and we plan to pursue all available options to move forward with the project," said McClain.

McClain also noted, "We appreciate the feedback we have heard to date on the project, as we heard numerous comments and questions. We will continue efforts to foster an open dialogue with communities and landowners along the proposed pipeline rights-of-way and share information about the project to address concerns. We understand and are sensitive to the issues surrounding the potential use of eminent domain, which is rarely used (about 1 percent of land acquisitions on such projects) and which in all cases results in an award to impacted landowners based upon fair market value for access to their property. We also note that approximately 88 percent of the proposed route is co-located next to existing infrastructure - power lines, pipelines, roadways and railways - and that over 80 percent of the landowners potentially impacted by the Palmetto pipeline have already agreed to have their property surveyed. We are also sensitive to environmental concerns which have been raised, and note that a number of federal and state agencies will be involved in the approval and oversight of the project to ensure protection of the environment, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. We will continue to work to reach mutually beneficial agreements with landowners, and to cooperate with applicable agencies and other stakeholders in order to minimize or eliminate potential environmental impacts."

The proposed Palmetto Pipeline will enable refined petroleum products to be transported from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Collins and Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Belton, South Carolina, to North Augusta, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida. The system will have a design capacity of up to 167,000 barrels per day and will consist of a segment of expansion capacity that Palmetto will lease from Plantation Pipe Line Company between Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Belton, South Carolina. A new 360-mile pipeline from Belton, South Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, will also be constructed as part of the system. Kinder Morgan companies have an 80-year history of doing business in Georgia, safely operating more than 3,000 miles of pipelines across 85 Georgia counties, and employing 300 people within the state. When approved, this approximately $1 billion project will generate approximately 1,200 temporary construction jobs, 28 permanent full-time positions, and result in projected revenue to state and local taxing bodies of over $12 million annually.

Pipelines are the safest and most environmentally sound way to transport refined products, and Kinder Morgan's safety and environmental performance is significantly better than the pipeline industry average. According to recent statistics, 99.999 percent of crude oil and petroleum product barrels delivered by pipeline reach their destination safely. While we do not consider any release to be acceptable, Kinder Morgan's spill rate is one-third of the industry's average (6.846 barrels per billion barrel miles over the last three years versus the industry's average of 23.578 barrels per billion barrel miles). Overall, our operational performance was better than our industry peers in 35 out of 36 environmental, health and safety comparisons in 2014.

Kinder Morgan, Inc. (NYSE: KMI) is the largest energy infrastructure company in NorthAmerica. It owns an interest in or operates approximately 84,000 miles of pipelines and 165 terminals. The company's pipelines transport natural gas, gasoline, crude oil, CO2 and other products, and its terminals store petroleum products and chemicals, and handle bulk materials like coal and petroleum coke. Kinder Morgan is the largest midstream and third largest energy company in North America with an enterprise value of approximately $130 billion. For more information please visit www.kindermorgan.com.

This news release includes forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties and are based on the beliefs and assumptions of management, based on information currently available to them. Although Kinder Morgan believes that these forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that such assumptions will materialize. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements herein include those enumerated in Kinder Morgan's reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they were made, and except to the extent required by law, Kinder Morgan undertakes no obligation to update or review any forward-looking statement because of new information, future events or other factors. Because of these uncertainties, readers should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The Georgia Department of Transportation has announced they will not issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity. The basis for the decision is outlined in the correspondence to Palmetto Products Pipe Line.

It means they can't use eminent domain to force a property owner sale. Kinder Morgan now has to strike individual purchase deals with each individual property owner

On February 13, 2015, the Georgia Department Of Transportation received an application from Palmetto Products Pipe Line LLC (Palmetto) requesting a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for a proposed petroleum pipeline that is expected to run from the Augusta, Georgia‐South Carolina border to the Brunswick, Georgia‐Florida border, according to a release from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The Pipeline would go through the following counties in Georgia:

  • Richmond County: 2 miles
  • Burke County: 25 miles
  • Screven County: 34 miles in
  • Effingham County: 39 miles
  • Chatham County: 2 miles
  • Bryan County: 7 miles
  • Liberty County: 18 miles
  • Long County: 2 miles
  • McIntosh County: 17 miles
  • Glynn County: 24 miles
  • Camden County: 18 miles
  • Charlton County: 12 miles

The Georgia Department of Transportation released the following statement denying Kinder Morgan's request:
"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."

Kinder Morgan has said they are disappointed with the outcome of our proceedings with the Georgia DOT. The company said they believe that they have more than adequately demonstrated that this project is in the best interests of Georgia’s consumers.

“The fact the proposed pipeline is fully supported by long-term commitments from multiple customers seeking safer and more efficient supply options, and that it was so vehemently opposed by certain existing refined petroleum suppliers with vested economic interests in maintaining the status quo of artificially higher prices, is itself compelling evidence that the pipeline will serve needs that are not being met by current supply options. We continue to believe in the viability of the project and its economic benefits to the Southeast region and Georgia in particular, and we plan to pursue all available options to move forward with the project,” Kinder Morgan Products Pipelines President Ron McClain said.

Jen Hilburn, Altamaha Riverkeeper, responded to the decision today, saying, "We are pleased that the DOT responsibly reviewed and considered if there was a public need for a surplus supply of petroleum products and found that there was none. This proposed pipeline would cross 5 of our major rivers, countless acres of wetlands, both public and private and left our coastline at risk for environmental disaster. While we celebrate today, this step is likely just the beginning, and I don't think we have seen the last of Kinder Morgan."

Savannah Riverkeeper and founding member of the Push Back The Pipeline Coalition Tonya Bonitatibus has said she is very happy with GDOT's decision.



News 12 This Morning, Friday, May 8th, 2015

WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW)- People are wanting answers about a controversial pipeline that could run through our area. Despite major push back, that possibility is still moving forward.

Last night's meeting in Waynesboro was one of the most important.
The meeting had hundreds of people for and against it, and just wanted answers.

The pipeline will run up from Jacksonville to Belton, South Carolina going through six of our local counties: Screven, Burke, Richmond, Aiken, Edgefield, and McCormick counties. How Kinder Morgan will be getting that land is really the big issue.

Moses Todd isn't just a former Richmond County commissioner, but knows a thing or two about the pipeline business.

"Worked in the petroleum industry for the last 17 years from Alaska to New Jersey," said Todd.

Despite others safety concerns, he thinks the Palmetto Pipeline is the right move.

"I know it's the safest method for moving product from point A to point B," said Todd.

That pipeline will be moving more than 150,000 barrels of gasoline a day. It will have to travel through 202 miles of private property, and that's where a big issue comes into play.

Kinder Morgan needs to be granted eminent domain, which means the company could take over people's private land without their permission.

"Eminent domain is rarely used and it's rarely used by us. By rare, I mean 98 percent of the time we never use it. On a number of our most recent projects we don't use it at all even though we have the authority," said Kinder Morgan Vice President of Public Affairs Allen Fore.

"It satisfies a private corporation's bottom line, and that's that, and that is not public need," said K.C. Allen, with the Push back the pipeline movement.

That decision is up to Georgia DOT, and the key is it must benefit the public use. Kinder Morgan argues this is a billion dollar investment in our local commerce.

"It's important to Georgia because some of the highest prices in the state are paid in the coastal region because there's no access to pipeline infrastructure," said Allen Fore.

"This means progress and we need progress we need these jobs and the commerce that this will create," said Todd.

Not everyone is convinced.

"We're going to object from the state level, and I think that process will then go to the courts for a judge to decide," said Governor Nathan Deal.

"Our legislators are now starting to stand up . It's been amazing. It's been a grassroots movement that's rolled up to the grass tops and we're thrilled," said K.C. Allen.

GDOT says the governor has not directed them on this matter but they will continue to review comments made by the public, and will announce their decision May 19th.

Kinder Morgan has already gotten permission to lay piping in South Carolina, and there is a public hearing on May 21st in North Augusta at the community center.



UPDATE: News 12 at 6 o' clock/ May 7, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga.--More problems for Kinder Morgan, the private company trying to build an oil pipeline through several counties in our area. Screven county deputies arrested three surveyors working for Kinder Morgan, charging them with trespassing on private property.

Investigators picked up Emmett Horn, Darrell Alexander, and Barry Kilgore. Their arrests come as Georgia's governor speaks out against the plan, even threatening legal action against Kinder Morgan.

"We've been in consultation with the head of DOT and are in agreement that the state is going to disagree to that pipeline," said Governor Nathan Deal.

Governor Deal was in town Thursday to sign a criminal justice bill into law, but while in town, he shared big news with News 12 about the Palmetto Pipeline project.

"We're going to object from the state level, and I think that process will then go to the courts for a judge to decide," says Deal.

That means a huge road bump for Kinder Morgan, the private company trying to build a 360 mile pipeline through our area, and music to the Savannah Riverkeepers ears.

"It renews my faith in our government a little bit," says Tonya Bonitatibus, the Savannah Riverkeeper.

The Governor's words come within a week of the arrest of three surveyors working for Kinder Morgan. They were caught allegedly trespassing on private property on Millhaven Plantation. The property owners say they sent letters to Kinder Morgan strictly forbidding any of their personnel from entering the property.

"There are a lot of landowners who are extremely upset right now, especially with the recent trespass arrests that happened in Sylvania. There have been many people who have denied access, and a lot of them are questioning right now whether the surveys are actually being done behind their back," says Bonitatibus.

One of the surveyors is quoted in the incident report saying "You can't stop the pipeline, they have enough money to push the pipeline right through the county."

"I think unfortunately Kinder Morgan is really showing his true colors and how much they do not respect our laws or our property. I'm glad Georgia is making a pretty clear statement against it," says Bonitatibus.

Kinder Morgan officials released this statement to News 12:

Regarding the alleged trespassing, the individuals in question are not Kinder Morgan employees -- they are employed by a company hired by Kinder Morgan to conduct survey work. Kinder Morgan's policy, and instruction to its contractors, is that they should obey all laws and landowner instructions in the performance of their duties. Whether any trespass actually occurred or not is under investigation.

After Thursday night's public meeting, Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell R. McMurry, P.E. On Kinder Morgan's Application for Public Convenience and Necessity released this statement:

"We have communicated with various stakeholders who have expressed their views regarding Kinder Morgan’s application for Public Convenience and Necessity. We acknowledge the Governor’s leadership and his position on this issue; however the Governor has not directed GDOT in this matter. We continue to work through the process that has been laid out in the law with the last public hearing in Waynesboro tonight. This is an opportunity for the public to express their comments and concerns regarding Kinder Morgan’s application. We will continue to gather and review all comments submitted by the public by the May 15th deadline. A decision will be issued by May 19th."



Thursday, May 7, 2015

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Georgia Governor Nathan Deal says the state could take Kinder Morgan to court if the Palmetto Pipeline project is approved.

"We're going to object from the state level and I think that process will then go to the courts for a judge to decide," Gov. Deal said.

"We've been in consultation with the head of DOT and agreement that the state is going to disagree to that pipeline," he said.

The Governor made the comment during a stop in Augusta this morning.

It comes as Kinder Morgan prepares for the final public hearing in Georgia, before the state's Department of Transportation decides whether to allow the part of the pipeline that will be built in Georgia.

The public meeting happens tonight at Augusta Tech's campus in Waynesboro. It starts at 5 p.m.

If you can't make it to the meeting, News 12 will live stream it on wrdw.com.