Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Rural Georgia property owners win fight over eminent domain, force suspension of pipeline

Rural eastern Georgia property owners, many of whose families have owned the same land for 300 years, are a big reason why Kinder Morgan has suspended construction of its $1 billion Palmetto Pipeline (Kinder Morgan map) for transporting gasoline, diesel and ethanol from Belton, S.C. to North Augusta, S.C., Savannah and Jacksonville. Kinder Morgan, the largest energy infrastructure company in North America, announced the suspension last week, Phil McKenna reports for InsideClimate News. "The decision is being hailed as a victory by an unlikely coalition of Republican legislators, private property owners and environmental organizations."

"The announcement came the same day Georgia state lawmakers sent a bill to the state's governor that would place a moratorium on the 360-mile pipeline's construction until 2017, after they voted overwhelmingly in support of the legislation," McKenna reports. Rep. Bill Hitchens, a Republican who sponsored the House bill, told McKenna, "My constituents were up in arms. It's a conduit to pump petroleum from South Carolina into Florida. It doesn't do anything for the state of Georgia."

Alan Zipperer, whose family has owned his land since the mid 1700s, "successfully sued Kinder Morgan over its attempted use of eminent domain," McKenna writes. Zipperer, whose family still holds an original land grant document from the king of England, own a 350-acre tract of woodlands. "Kinder Morgan sought to run a pipeline through a half-mile length of the property and would have cleared a 125-foot-wide swath of woods as they went, an area of approximately eight acres."

"Since 1970, Zipperer said, he and his family have lost 40 acres of their land through eminent domain for natural gas pipelines and power lines," McKenna writes. "The family received as little as $700 an acre for the land at the time, but property values have risen significantly in recent decades and now sell for approximately $20,000 an acre, Zipperer said." (Read more)

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