- Associated Press - Sunday, October 23, 2016

ATLANTA (AP) - A committee evaluating petroleum pipelines in Georgia is planning public hearings in Augusta and Atlanta.

The hearings will include testimony and comments from the public, The Augusta Chronicle reported (https://bit.ly/2enwDWD ).

Feedback from the hearings will then be considered as the Joint State Commission on Petroleum Pipelines recommends changes to Georgia’s process of evaluating petroleum pipelines, officials said.

A hearing in Augusta is set for 10 a.m. Nov. 3 at the Columbia County government building.

Another hearing is planned for Nov. 17 in Atlanta. The time and place for the Atlanta hearing haven’t been announced.

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed the 13-member committee to include three state representatives, three state senators, the director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources, the commissioner of community affairs, one member representing the petroleum industry and four members representing a cross-section of the interests of local government, business, agriculture and conservation.

The bill which prompted creation of the committee imposed a moratorium on construction of petroleum pipelines through July 2017, the nonprofit Savannah Riverkeeper organization said in a news release. That legislation supported by Savannah Riverkeeper helped defeat Kinder Morgan’s proposed $1 billion Palmetto Pipeline.

Kinder Morgan’s pipeline plan upset many Georgia property owners along the 360-mile path from Belton, South Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida. It was forced to negotiate a price with each one when Georgia’s transportation commissioner rejected the company’s request for power to seize rights of way in court, with a judge deciding the compensation, a process known as eminent domain, the Augusta newspaper reported.

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