By Sarita Chourey –
Pipeline observers may have another chance to speak out and possibly thwart progress on the petroleum pipeline a Texas energy company intends to run through parts of South Carolina and Georgia and Florida.
Kinder Morgan is seeking permission from South Carolina regulators to build eight new petroleum product storage tanks, along with piping and pumps, in Belton, S.C., as part of its Palmetto Pipeline project. The location is to be adjacent to existingcompany terminals. Bolton is also the Anderson County community where more than 300,000 gallons of gasoline escaped from Kinder Morgan’s existing pipe in 2014.
On Feb. 26, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Bureau of Air Quality received the company’s new air construction permit application. At issue is potential air pollution from the company’s proposed facility.
“DHEC is currently in the process of planning our public participation,” said agency spokesman Cassandra Harris on Friday.?”As part of our public participation process, we are planning to hold a public meeting related to the Kinder Morgan proposed pipeline.”
The Palmetto Belton Tank Farm and Pump Station, as its called in the application, will receive gasoline and other refined petroleum products. Ethanol, too, could come to the site, “by other means in the future,” according to the company. Kinder Morgan had asked DHEC for an expedited review of the permit application, but state regulators denied the request.
The application calls for four gasoline storage tanks, three distillate fuel storage tanks, and one denatured ethanol storage tank. The company says the facility may operate seven days per week, 24 hours per day and will require four buildings.
“There are no air issues that would generate community concerns,” the company stated in its application, which also said,”the facility is considered a minor emission source under SCDHEC regulations.” The application cites several exemptions, including one that would shield it from mandatory greenhouse gas reporting requirements.
Kinder Morgan, however, did state in the application that it would submit a risk-management plan to regulators before starting operations, specifically to comply with the Chemical Accident Prevention Provisions that relate to preventing accidental releases of substances.
Public outcry in South Carolina and Georgia has buffeted the $1 billion pipeline since at least last year.
While environmentalists and some state residents warn of oil leaks, environmental destruction, and lower property values resulting from the 360-mile pipe, a unifying flash point across groups has been the company’s potential to condemn private property in order to avoid expensive reroutes of the pipeline.
Legislatures in both states are considering changing the law to preemptively bar the company from using eminent domain to forcibly purchase landowner’s property, should a voluntary sale fail.
To the cheers of pipeline opponents, Georgia has already sent two messages to Kinder Morgan.
In May, Ga. Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry denied the company’s application for eminent domain power. And lastmonth, Fulton County Superior Court shot down Kinder Morgan’s appeal of the decision.
Meanwhile, the new DHEC permit application stands separate from the eminent domain question and makes up one of an assortment of approvals the company would need to move forward, along with compliance with the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act,Clean Air Act, and National Historic Preservation Act.