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Elba Express Pipeline plans do not make environmental sense

On March 30, 2007, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DIES) for a proposed natural gas pipeline, Elba Express III Pipeline, for eastern north Georgia. The DIES minimally described the negative impacts from the proposed pipeline project that will take private property from landowners in Glascock, Warren, McDuffie, Wilkes, Elbert, and Hart Counties by condemnation and will destroy an 83.1 mile-long corridor of pristine, undisturbed Georgia lands north of Wrens, Georgia. By conducting their own investigations, a group known as the Landowners for Environmental and Economic Protection (LEEP), have proven that the Elba Express III Project is designed solely to provide huge profits for three of the world's largest natural gas companies, when these companies are already making record profits.

The obvious message is that private property rights are irrelevant when it comes to profits for large private corporations. There is absolutely no benefit to the public from this project, in Georgia or anywhere else. The only reason each landowner along Elba's proposed new route will be forced to permanently relinquish their land and rights is to line the pockets of the natural gas industry with more, obscene profits. FERC appears to have no interest in protecting the pristine forests and streams that will be condemned and taken for private profiteering. LEEP has decided that it is time for landowners to stand up to this callous attempt to destroy natural resources in Georgia.

The proposed Elba III Project includes the expansion of the existing liquid natural gas terminal on Elba Island, just outside of Savannah, and the construction of this new, unnecessary natural gas pipeline north of Wrens to Anderson, S.C. The proposed Northern Segment of the pipeline will require open trenching for over 83 miles of new right-of-way, through previously undisturbed forests, wetlands, streams, and rivers that currently belong to private landowners. This route has been proposed, despite an existing right-of-way that already has capacity to achieve the project goals.

The unwarranted basis of this reckless destruction of the environment and total lack of concern for private property rights is simple: profit. On June 11, 2007, Elba filed a document in response to LEEP filings with FERC that blatantly admits that the only reason this route was chosen is to avoid approximately $54 million in tariffs charges, which will go into the pockets of the natural gas companies, by tunneling once again under the Savannah River to tie into what is known as Zone 5 of the Transco Pipeline in South Carolina. The customers that will profit so greatly are Shell NA LNG LLC and BG LNG Services, LLC. Both of these companies are foreign owned, which removes these absurd profits from the economy of the United States. There is physically no difference in capacity in Transco Zone 5 and Transco Zone 4 at the current interconnection in Jonesboro, where the pipeline is already tunneled under the Savannah River. Elba's position is that it is fine to tunnel under the Savannah River as many times as necessary to create more obscene profits for foreign owned natural gas companies.

The landowners in Eastern Georgia have banded together and intervened in the hearing process to fight this unnecessary rape of a virgin Greenfield space that contains one of the largest remaining contiguous forests in Georgia and the nation. Because the comment period for the DEIS has ended, anyone who is not already an Intervener in this matter will not be represented in any subsequent decision process. The only way to have a voice in this matter as a party to the proceeding is to join and contribute to LEEP.

LEEP landowners ask that all landowners in Glascock, Warren, McDuffie, Wilkes, Elbert and Hart Counties join in the fight against this unnecessary proposed pipeline by committing your time and/or financial resources. To learn more, please contact the LEEP Steering Committee: Deborah Bennett at (706) 678-5757, Cindy Bounds at (706) 678-7152, Gina Thomas at (706) 283-2680, or counsel for LEEP: Ed Hallman at (404) 588-2525. Any contributions would be greatly appreciated and should be made payable to "DHBB Trust Account 3090-002" and mailed to the law firm of Decker Hallman Barber and Briggs, Suite 1700, 260 Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303.

Web posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007

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