The Laurens County Council will vote Tuesday on a resolution that pushes back against a portion of the future Dominion natural gas pipeline.
In a meeting last week, residents of Laurens County along with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) and Upstate Forever asked the council to oppose Dominion & Carolina Gas Transmission from using eminent domain to claim their property to build their Transco-to-Charleston pipeline project.
The council scheduled to vote on whether or not to oppose the pipeline on Tuesday night’s council meeting. The resolution itself would have litte actual impact, since such projects are governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
But SCELP staff attorney Michael Corley said he wants to get local governments involved to potentially influence environmental surveys measuring the impact of the pipeline.
“The pipeline is still under consideration before DHEC for a water quality survey and FERC,” he said. “The local opposition to eminent domain could still potentially have an impact on those processes.”
Even if the Laurens County Council votes to oppose the pipeline, Dominion Resources could still claim residents’ property to build the pipeline using state eminent domain law. Since Dominion is building the pipeline for the power utility South Carolina Electric and Gas, the potential use of eminent domain is not seen as a violation of private-public eminent domain banned by the legislature last year.
“The property owners have come out of the woodwork and there seems to have been a galvanizing of the opposition to this pipeline based around the fact that its a private company exercising or potentially exercising eminent domain to take someone’s property involuntarily,” said Corley.
The 55-mile pipeline would connect Spartanburg County to Greenwood County, according to Dominion Resources spokeswoman Kristen Beckham. She said the new project is small in comparison to what already exists in the state. “We already have 1,500 miles of natural gas pipeline in South Carolina and a little bit in Georgia.” said Beckham, “So this is 55 miles in comparison to 1,500.”
The estimated $120 million project would move 80,000 dekatherms of natural gas a day, which Dominion says could fuel 73,000 homes a day in South Carolina. “So this will go to industrial customers it will go to heat people’s homes. It’ll help them cook their dinners.”
“Generally raising concerns for this pipeline from an environmental standpoint and from a property rights and development standpoint is an important step,” said Corley. “If this pipeline is going to be defeated.”
Members of the Laurens County Council wanted to wait until after the vote before giving interviews.