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Bill to stop Palmetto pipeline is passed

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World Pipelines,

The Georgia State Senate has passed its version of a bill to halt construction of a petroleum pipeline across east Georgia but added a last minute amendment to allow the company to apply for, but not be issued, environmental permits during a 13 month moratorium.

The bill is aimed at blocking efforts by Kinder Morgan to construct the planned Palmetto Pipeline southwards across more than 200 miles stretching from the South Carolina border to Florida, crossing five rivers and hundreds of parcels of private property.

During the moratorium, the state’s existing Pipeline Act, passed in 1995, will be studied for potential changes. The moratorium will end on 30 June, 2017, after a state commission issues its findings and lawmakers possibly act on them.

House Bill 1036, if enacted, would stop the company until July 2017 from seizing land against the owner’s wishes, a legal process known as eminent domain. In the meantime, a 15 member commission would study laws and policies for granting eminent domain for gasoline pipelines, which are regulated by the state.

The company doesn’t have eminent domain authority because Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry denied it, and a judge upheld his denial.

Kinder Morgan has until the end of this month to ask the Georgia Court of Appeals to overturn the denial, but company officials have said it plans to build the pipeline without eminent domain by convincing landowners to sell access.

The last-minute amendment, accepted before the Senate voted, allows Kinder Morgan to apply for required permits from the Department of Natural Resources during the moratorium. But it prohibits the issuance of those permits until the study committee completes its work.

Edited from various sources by Elizabeth Corner

Sources: Savannnah NowAtlanta Journal Constitution

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