I’ve been covering pipelines in Ohio for the past few months. I previously blogged about the current pipelines in the state as well as ones that are proposed for the future. I spent a whole afternoon looking through the entire FERC docket for the Nexus pipeline.
This research has opened my eyes to the efforts of ‘everyday people’, like farmers, blue-collar workers and soccer moms, to stop pipelines from getting approved. It’s also shown me that in some cases, despite town hall meetings, letters of dissent and even litigation, if a pipeline company wants construction to be approved, it’ll likely get approved.
I recently came across a news alert that surprised me, though: pipeline company Kinder Morgan announced earlier this week it has dropped its plan to re-purpose the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP), which passes through six states, eventually ending in eastern Ohio.
The Uticus Marcella Texas Pipeline (UMTP) project would have changed the 70-year-old TGP to transport liquid gas instead of natural gas, which environmentalists say is more dangerous.
Many opposed this project, including municipalities and counties in Kentucky, as the pipeline spans through 18 Kentucky counties alone. Although FERC approved the project in February 2015, groups like the Kentucky Environmental Foundation challenged it in court earlier this year.
“As more and more local governments and other institutions publicly opposed this dangerous plan, it seems the momentum shifted from the profit driven corporation(s) to those trying to protect their communities,” Craig Williams, Kentucky Environmental Foundation Project Director, told the Richmond Register. “This is a great accomplishment for the people of Kentucky.”
It’s not all over, though — Kinder Morgan still plans to reverse the flow of the natural gas, which was part of the original proposal. They’ll draw oil from Appalachian regions and transport it south. This means fracking will continue, even though the project was cancelled.
Seems like Kentuckians had better luck than those who work towards stopping pipelines in Ohio. The decision to cancel was more than likely a financial one, though.
In a conference call with analysts on October 17, KM’s Chief Financial Officer Steven Kean announced “part of the reason” the company would not go forward with the project is because “[they] we haven’t gotten the customer sign up on UMTP.” This means no one signed on to buy the natural gas liquids for the re-purposing of the line.
“It’s a function of a lack of opportunity on the one hand, but thankfully the emergence of a very good opportunity on the other,” Kean continued.
Essentially, it’s a small loss for Kinder Morgan, but for the pipeline critics in Kentucky who fought to stop the full project from commencing, it’s a big win. Time will tell if the opposition will continue as the new fracking project comes to light.
The featured image is courtesy Marcellus Drilling News.