Pipeline companies abusing public-use doctrine –Steven Caley, GreenLaw, in AJC

Atlanta is surrounded by pipeline invaders, and Steve Caley nailed why:

“The public-use doctrine is being twisted and abused by many companies proposing to build these pipelines that are really not for a public purpose, but for a private profit,” said Steve Caley, the interim director of Atlanta-based GreenLaw, an environmental nonprofit. “There needs to be a change in the law to further circumscribe the use of eminent domain.”

Dan Chapman, AJC, 13 June 2015, New pipelines fuel fights over property, recorded another pipeline company deliberately missing the point:

AGL says its pipelines serve public and a private purposes and are fully sanctioned by the state’s Public Service Commission.

“We go through a very lengthy process. We look at different routes,” Benson said. “We do our due diligence to make sure we’ve selected the best route based on certain criteria.”

And the process is rigged to approve the pipeline. That’s the problem.

Here’s a proposed eminent domain law change:

Abolish eminent domain for private companies!

The list of pipeline projects in Georgia keeps increasing:

  • “Atlanta Gas Light pipeline plans a 17.5-mile pipeline through central Coweta…”
  • AGL’s STRIDE project: “It’s adding nearly 50 miles of pipe in Coweta, Forsyth, northern Gwinnett and Hall counties.
  • Williams Transco’s Dalton Expansion Project: “The distribution company and an Oklahoma firm are also lining up easements for a 111-mile line from Coweta to Dalton along metro Atlanta’s western flank.”
  • Spectra Energy’s Sabal Trail (see previous Dan Chapman story): “A Texas builder is tussling with southwest Georgia landowners and local officials over a 157-mile pipeline that would deliver gas to North Florida utilities.”
  • Presumably KMI’s Elba Express: “Shell Oil and Kinder Morgan, an oil infrastructure company, are petitioning the feds to reverse the flow of a gas pipeline between Atlanta and Savannah so they can export to Europe.”
  • See Push Back the Pipeline:

    Kinder Morgan also wants to shoot oil, propane and gas down the proposed Palmetto Pipeline from South Carolina through Augusta and Savannah to Jacksonville, Fla. Georgia officials, though, denied a permit last month. An appeal is likely. To succeed, Kinder Morgan will have to show that the pipeline is a “public necessity,” a relatively easy threshold to overcome.

Only an easy threshold because, as Steve spelled out, the whole idea of public use has been perverted by regulatory capture. None of those projects are a public necessity. Ten years ago, or even five years ago, there might have been some argument for that, but not now that solar power is cheaper than any other power source.

Solar power doesn’t need eminent domain, and is cheaper, faster, and far less environmentally damaging or hazardous, plus burns no fuel, needs no pipelines, emits no waste, and uses no water.

Georgia is the fastest-growing U.S. solar market, set to grow faster now that it has a solar financing law. Let’s forget obsolote 20th century fossil fuels and get on with 21st century clean sun, wind, and water power.


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