ATLANTA (AP) - A Georgia transportation official has denied Kinder Morgan Inc. an approval necessary to build a 360-mile pipeline carrying gasoline, diesel and ethanol from South Carolina through Georgia and into Florida.
Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry refused to grant Kinder Morgan Inc. a certificate necessary if the developer hopes to use eminent domain laws to build the Palmetto Pipeline on land owned by others, even if the land owner objects. The decision was reached Monday and publicly announced Tuesday.
McMurry said gasoline consumption in the region is declining, making the pipeline unnecessary. He also said the market for gasoline suppliers is already competitive without adding a new pipeline.
“There is no reason to believe nor is there any evidence that the presence of the pipeline in the market alone will affect prices in the region,” he said.
His decision can be legally appealed. Kinder Morgan officials said Tuesday they will pursue options that allow the pipeline to proceed. The decision by Georgia transportation officials is one of several required for the project. Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, had previously indicted his opposition, citing concerns from landowners.
The pipeline would hook into an existing network carrying refined petroleum from points in Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina to markets in Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida. Kinder Morgan estimates the construction effort would cost roughly $1 billion.
Project opponents criticized the developer for proposing to use eminent domain powers and warned the project could destroy environmentally sensitive wetlands.
“It renews my faith a little bit in the Georgia government, especially in terms of listening to the people,” said Tonya Bonitatibus, executive director of the Savannah Riverkeeper, an environmental group.
Ron McClain, who oversees pipeline projects for Kinder Morgan, said pipelines are the safest option for transporting gas and other petroleum products. He said increasing the supply would eventually decrease prices, and he blamed opposition from existing gas suppliers for Tuesday’s decision.
“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,” McClain said.
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