Critics might have another chance to speak out and possibly thwart progress on the petroleum pipeline a Texas company intends to run through parts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Kinder Morgan is seeking permission from South Carolina regulators to build eight new petroleum product storage tanks, along with piping and pumps, in Belton, S.C., as part of its Palmetto Pipeline project. The location would be next to existing company terminals. Bolton is also the Anderson County community where more than 300,000 gallons of gasoline escaped from Kinder Morgan’s existing pipe in 2014.
On Feb. 26, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Bureau of Air Quality received the company’s new air construction permit application. At issue is potential air pollution from the proposed facility.
“DHEC is currently in the process of planning our public participation,” agency spokeswoman Cassandra Harris said Friday. “As part of our public participation process, we are planning to hold a public meeting related to the Kinder Morgan proposed pipeline.”
The Palmetto Belton Tank Farm and Pump Station, as it’s called in the application, will receive gasoline and other refined petroleum products. Kinder Morgan had asked DHEC for an expedited review of the permit application, but state regulators denied the request.
The application calls for four gasoline storage tanks, three distillate fuel storage tanks and one denatured ethanol storage tank. The company says the facility could operate seven days per week, 24 hours per day and will require four buildings.
“There are no air issues that would generate community concerns,” the company stated in its application, which also said the facility is “a minor emission source under SCDHEC regulations.” The application cites several exemptions, including one that would shield it from mandatory greenhouse gas reporting requirements.
Kinder Morgan said it would submit a risk-management plan to regulators before starting operations, specifically to comply with the Chemical Accident Prevention Provisions that relate to preventing accidental releases of substances.
Public outcry in South Carolina and Georgia has dogged the $1 billion pipeline since at least last year.
While environmentalists and some state residents warn of oil leaks, environmental destruction and lower property values resulting from the 360-mile pipeline, a unifying flashpoint across groups has been the company’s potential to condemn private property in order to avoid expensive rerouting of the pipeline.
Legislatures in both states are considering changing the law to preemptively bar the company from using eminent domain to take landowners’ property, should a voluntary sale fail.
In May, Georgia Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry denied the company’s application for eminent domain power. And last month, Fulton County Superior Court shot down Kinder Morgan’s appeal of the decision.
Meanwhile, the new DHEC permit application stands separate from the eminent domain question and makes up one of an assortment of approvals the company would need to move forward, along with compliance with the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act and National Historic Preservation Act.