Georgia House defeats bill to grant easements for S. Georgia pipeline

The Georgia House on Tuesday soundly rejected a controversial measure to grant easements to a Houston-based energy company to build a methane gas pipeline through parts of South Georgia.

Senate Resolution 954 was crushed by a vote of 34-128 after more than an hour of debate. But, with the end of this year’s session looming Thursday at midnight, the bill is not yet dead. Transportation Committee Chairman Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, used a parliamentary move to keep the bill alive and have it sent back to committee.

Supporters say the easement is necessary to avoid a federal lawsuit because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted the company a permit for its preferred path. That path would go under several rivers in South Georgia, including the Chattahoochee, Hannahatchee, Creek, the Flint, the Ochlockonee and the Withlacoochee.

Opponents argue, however, that the easements will require the state to use its power of eminent domain to take private property from current owners on behalf of an out-of-state for-profit company.

Rep. Regina Quick, R-Athens, said something doesn’t sit right about the resolution.

“When something comes out of left field like this, in my mind that means I am on heightened alert to scrutinize and try to research what is really going on here,” Quick, who opposed the resolution, said.

The so-called Sabal Trail easements were not in the version of the bill that originally passed the Senate. They were added by a House Committee.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.