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Kinder Morgan officials explain planned Palmetto Pipeline
Questions abound from audience at state Rep. Al Williams Saturday morning meeting
Kinder Morgan meeting
Hunter Hall, a public-affairs consultant for Kinder Morgan, discusses the companys proposed Palmetto Pipeline during a meeting Saturday morning at Dorchester Academy. - photo by Jason Wermers

About 20 people peppered three Kinder Morgan representatives with questions Saturday in Midway about the Texas oil company’s proposed Palmetto Pipeline, which would stretch for 360 miles from Belton, South Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida.

The meeting was organized by state Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, who holds a meeting the first Saturday of each month at Dorchester Academy with the purpose of allowing attendees to listen to people who can speak to issues affecting Liberty County. This month, the Kinder Morgan representatives were the featured speakers.

In May, the Georgia Department of Transportation denied a certificate of public convenience and necessity, which is required for the pipeline to be built. Palmetto Products Pipe Line LLC, which is owned by Kinder Morgan, filed an appeal in Fulton County Superior Court in June.


Hunter Hall, a public-affairs consultant for Kinder Morgan, said that locally, Kinder Morgan operates a natural-gas facility on Elba Island near Savannah, which the company is retooling because the U.S. is shifting from importing natural gas to exporting it. Hall said that project is a
$2 million investment.

One of the company’s largest facilities is the Plantation Pipeline, which runs from the Gulf Coast to Washington, including through North Georgia.

The Palmetto Pipeline, a $1 billion investment, would tie into the Plantation Pipeline in South Carolina and end in Jacksonville. The Palmetto Pipeline would provide about a third of its petroleum products — gasoline, diesel and ethanol — to the Augusta area, a third to the Savannah area and a third to the Jacksonville and extreme southeastern-Georgia area (including Camden County), Hall said.

The pipeline would include 18 miles in Liberty County, 2 miles in Long County and 7 miles in Bryan County, which also would be the site of a terminal with six to eight tanks, some of which could hold as much as 100,000 barrels of oil and that would move up to 25,000 barrels of fuel products per day. Hall said the pipeline’s presence would generate $425,000 annually in property taxes to local governments in Liberty County.

The Liberty County route is generally west of Highway 17, Hall said, running east of Fleming, toward the McIntosh community, and then toward Screven Fork before exiting into Long County “well west of Riceboro,” Hall said.


Hall emphasized that the Bryan County terminal would provide jobs and tax revenue, as well as petroleum product, to the coastal-Georgia region, as would the construction of the pipeline along its proposed route.

“We’re expecting over 1,000 — probably 1,200 — construction jobs in relation to the construction of the pipeline, and that’s through several counties,” Hall said. “It’s a huge impact regionally. And, after it’s completed, 28 permanent, full-time positions. And these are well-paying jobs.”

Hall added that Kinder Morgan has a foundation that makes donations to communities in which it operates. He listed several projects to which it has contributed: helped the city of Savannah purchase a fire boat that’s about to begin operating; donated to a Savannah litter campaign; supported a high-school robotics team in North Augusta, South Carolina; supported the athletic department in the McIntosh County school system; donated to the Greenbriar Children’s Center in Savannah; and donated to the James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils in Augusta.

Hall also responded to a question concerning how much new right of way Kinder Morgan would need for the new petroleum pipeline by saying the company is trying as much as possible to locate the pipeline within, or close to, existing rights of way from power lines, other pipelines and roads as much as possible.

Minority recruitment

Amy Hughes, a public-affairs specialist who is helping with Kinder Morgan’s Elba Island project, answered a question from Williams concerning the company’s efforts to employ minorities. She gave examples of training programs aimed at minorities seeking engineering careers.

She said Kinder Morgan partnered with Shell to run a training program at Fort Valley State University, and that the companies are looking to start a similar program at Savannah State University. Kinder Morgan donated $50,000 for a training simulator at Savannah Technical College that will help train people how to monitor machines at the company’s facilities, Hughes said.

She added that Kinder Morgan’s natural-gas operations have an outreach program called “Viva Technology” that has operated at Bartlett Middle School and Jenkins High School, both majority African-American public schools in Savannah, “to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering, mathematics. Get them to see what possible careers are out there and the salaries that go along with those careers.”

Lawrence Bell IV, a manager at Troutman Sanders Strategies in Atlanta, is also helping with Kinder Morgan’s government-relations needs. He said that as someone who used to work for a minority-owned engineering firm, he is particularly sensitive to seeing that companies like Kinder Morgan work as much as possible with minority-owned contractors and employ qualified minorities in quality jobs.

He said Kinder Morgan wants to know of local, minority-owned contractors it can work with as pipeline construction draws nearer.

“Bingo,” Williams said in response. “That’s what we’re talking about. In the long haul, what will it do to improve the lives of folks that are here and inspire folks to continue their education and do whatever is necessary to take advantage of opportunities?”

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