The committee to evaluate petroleum pipelines in Georgia will hold a public hearing in Columbia County on Thursday.
The hearing at 10 a.m. in the auditorium of Building A at the Evans Government Center Complex at 630 Ronald Reagan Drive is the second of three the Joint State Commission on Petroleum Pipelines are holding. The first was held last month in Savannah and the final is scheduled Nov. 17 in Atlanta.
The hearings will allow testimony and comment from the public to facilitate the commission's task of recommending changes to the state's process of evaluating petroleum pipelines. Gov. Nathan Deal appointed the 13-member committee to include three state representatives, three state senators, the director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources, the commissioner of community affairs, one member representing the petroleum industry and four members representing a cross-section of the interests of local government, business, agriculture and conservation.
Among the group of state representatives is Barry Fleming, a Republican from Harlem.
The bill which prompted creation of the committee imposed a moratorium on construction of petroleum pipelines through July 2017, according to the release. That legislation supported by Savannah Riverkeeper helped defeat Kinder Morgan's proposed $1 billion Palmetto Pipeline.
Kinder Morgan's pipeline plan upset many Georgia property owners along the 360-mile path from Belton, S.C., to Jacksonville, Fla. It was forced to negotiate a price with each one when Georgia's transportation commissioner rejected the company's request for power to seize rights of way in court, with a judge deciding the compensation, a process known as eminent domain.
Tonya Bonitatibus, Savannah Riverkeeper, encourages local citizens to attend.
"Now is our opportunity to ensure equitable laws governing our property rights," she said in a news release. "Citizens must participate and make their voices heard to enact change."