ATLANTA – Georgia lawmakers, despite their rush to complete the 2015 Thursday, passed a resolution urging the state’s utilities to share their right-of-way territory.

Rep. Jon Burns, chairman of the House Game, Fish & Parks Committee, said he introduced House Resolution 885 with the proposed Palmetto Pipeline project in mind.

It’s a planned $1 billion pipeline to link North Augusta, S.C., with Jacksonville designed to transport 167,000 barrels of refined petroleum daily. It would essentially parallel the Savannah River, cutting a path across Southeast Georgia.

The goal is to improve the shipment of gasoline, diesel and ethanol from Louisiana and Mississippi to Savannah and Jacksonville which currently get their fuel by more expensive truck haulers.

While motorists in those cities may be anticipating the savings on their fill-ups, landowners along the pipeline’s 360-mile path and environmentalists are anxious.

“We wanted to urge the builders of the pipeline to use existing right of way as much as possible,” said Burns, R-Newington.
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, the company proposing the new pipeline, announced in November that it had sold subscriptions for the available capacity for the next five to 10 years. It expects to begin construction next year and start service in July of 2017.

Kinder Morgan hasn’t announced the exact route yet. It must wait for the Georgia Department of Transportation to conduct a public hearing.

Burns partnered with Sen. Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, on the resolution. They worked together on another environmental bill last year on establishing emergency procedures for chemical spills in waterways.

Burns said there are multiple pipelines for natural gas and petroleum – as well as for highways and electricity transmission — crisscrossing the state and that it should be possible to share the right-of-way easements along much of the Palmetto Pipeline’s route.
“In order to protect the private property rights of all Georgians, it would be economically feasible for these existing corridors to be used to meet any future pipeline expansion needs, especially when the alternative would be to take new areas of land for such projects,” the resolution said.

Utilities generally try for what they call co-location because it’s cheaper and reduces the chances of accidents.

While the resolution doesn’t directly change the path or operation of the pipeline, its passage does signal that the General Assembly has an interest in the project. And it has killed pipeline proposals in the past when the politics opposed them.

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