The legal fight over the stalled Palmetto Pipeline is moving forward.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly M. Esmond Adams has approved a scheduling order that outlines deadlines leading up to a hearing on Nov. 13 or “as soon as practicable thereafter.”
The order was filed Friday.
Houston-based Kinder Morgan is proposing to build the $1 billion Palmetto Pipeline along a 210-mile swath from north to south through eastern Georgia. It would transport up to seven million gallons a day of gasoline, diesel and ethanol to Jacksonville, with terminals in North Augusta, S.C. and in Richmond Hill.
Those plans hit a snag in May when Georgia transportation officials denied the company a certificate of public need, the first step in getting the authority to condemn property on any of the 400 or so properties along the Georgia portion of the route.
The company appealed that decision in June in Fulton Superior Court.
Soon after the appeal was filed, others sought to join the legal battle.
Landowners along the route filed the first of three separate motions to intervene. Those landowners include Millhaven Company, LLC; Mills Tract, LLC; Susan B. Moseley; Alan B. Zipperer; Janis Zipperer Bevill; Kathy Zittrouer; Henry S. Morgan; Pine Hope Holdings, LLC; and Pollard Lumber Co., Inc.
Millhaven and Mills Tract are owned by the family of William S. “Billy”” Morris III, who also owns Morris Publishing Group LLC, operator of the Augusta Chronicle, The Savannah Morning News and the Jacksonville Times-Union.
Savannah-based Colonial Oil Industries Inc. also filed a motion to intervene as did a group of environmental organizations: the Savannah Riverkeeper, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Altamaha Riverkeeper, Satilla Riverkeeper and the Center for a Sustainable Coast.
Palmetto Pipeline has indicated it will oppose the motions to intervene, although it has no objection to them submitting friend-of-the-court briefs.
Friday’s scheduling order spells out when briefs and responses are due and indicates the hearing will address both the motions to intervene and the merits of the appeal.
Despite the pipeline’s legal limbo, Kinder Morgan has continued to survey along the pipeline’s proposed route. The Texas-based company, co-founded in 1997 by former Enron executive Richard Kinder, also has continued to conduct an advertising campaign promoting its record in the Peach State.
Since Georgia issued its denial certificate in May, the company has made at least three donations along the route: $3,000 to a private music school in Augusta, $30,000 to McIntosh County Public Schools and $20,000 to an anti-litter campaign in Savannah.
Kinder Morgan, self-described as the largest energy infrastructure company in the country, is also continuing to pursue the permits needed from the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to lay pipeline through at least four state-owned wildlife management areas in Georgia. Those are Yuchi, Sansavilla, Paulks Pasture, and Townsend Wildlife Management Areas.
‘While we continue to pursue the appeal of the Georgia DOT decision, we continue to believe the Palmetto Pipeline is in the best interests of consumers in the Southeast region,” Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Melissa Ruiz said.
This article was written by Mary Landers from Savannah Morning News, Ga. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.