Palmetto Pipeline project runs out of gas - for now

Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan indefinitely suspended its plan to lay 210 miles of petroleum pipes across east Georgia, days after state lawmakers passed legislation that would temporarily halt the Texas-based company from getting permits for the project.

The company said it was forced to halt its plans to build a $1 billion pipeline that would carry fuel and gasoline from South Carolina to Jacksonville, Fla. after the "unfavorable" action by Georgia lawmakers, which has not yet been signed into law. The firm would not say whether the project would be revived.

It's a victory for the powerful trifecta of business forces, environmental groups and political leaders that has united to fight the proposal. Some of the landowners have already given up swaths of their property for towering transmission cables and roadways, but they draw the line at a pipeline for an area with no shortage of fuel.

Kinder Morgan billed it as a cost-saving measure that would increase competition and could lower fuel prices along Georgia’s eastern reaches. The line will take 30,000 tractor-trailer round trips off Georgia highways, it said, and will add 1 million gallons a day to the “pipeline-constrained” Savannah market. Friendly landowners vouched for the project at town hall meetings and in TV campaigns.

But the company couldn't overcome sustained political resistance that included the fierce opposition of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. Still, opponents of the measure warned their fight is not yet over. Tonya Bonitatibus of the Savannah Riverkeeper said she's now focused on tightening pipeline approval regulations in both Georgia and South Carolina.

“We’ve succeeded in stopping a bad project and need to continue to make sure that we close the discovered loopholes in both states’ laws to protect our citizens and their rights,” she said.

More: Why the Palmetto Pipeline fueled so much anger

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.