South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Natural gas pipeline causes stink with Upstate environmental groups
January 3rd, 2017


A new natural gas pipeline proposed by Dominion energy has drawn the ire of a few Upstate environmental conservation groups.

The South Carolina Environmental Law Center (SCELP) and the Upstate Forever group claim that a Dominion Resources pipeline endangers several wetlands area and threatens over 70 bodies of water. However, an environmental study conducted by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission recognized several concerns but suggested that there was “no significant impact” on the environment.

SCELP believes that any study, “a finding of no significant impact,” as the [Dominion Carolina Gas Transmission] seems to suggest would be completely inappropriate” considering the size of the project.

The 55 mile pipeline would connect Spartanburg to Greenwood County, according to Dominion Resources spokeswoman Kristen Beckham. She said the new project is small in comparison to what is already 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 environmental group believes that, in addition to their objections about the size of the project, Dominion has not provided enough information to explain the necessity of the project.

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, according to Beckham. “So this will go to industrial customers it will go to heat people’s homes. It’ll help them cook their dinners.

Beckham says that size is irrelevant as the 12 inch pipeline will rest completely underground and will go unnoticed by most people. “When it is complete you don’t see it. People can continue to use the property. You can farm it. they can hike on it. They can use it as they did before.” said Beckham. But the unseen nature of the pipeline worries Upstate Forever. In 2010, the group outlined six areas of high biodiversity in the Upstate that are relatively vulnerable to human development. One of those areas is the confluence of the Ferguson Creek and the Tyger River where the pipeline crosses. Development on rivers causes sediment from construction to leak into watersheds potentially harming aquatic life. “The proposed impacts to 520 linear feet of stream exceeds the 300 feet limit as stated in the US Army Corps’ Regional Condition #10 for Nationwide Permits as well as the Department’s Nationwide Permit 401 Specific Conditions for Nationwide Permit Number 12.” said Chris Starker, Project Manager for Upstate Forever, in a letter to the Department of Health and Environmental Control asking them to intervene in the project. “The Project proposes to cross more streams than there is miles of pipeline and the EA specifically highlighted sediment as the greatest potential impact from the construction of the pipeline.”

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