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Still fighting against Elba pipeline

Dear Editor,

We would like to provide a general update regarding the proposed construction of Elba Express Pipeline's northern segment from Wrens through Glascock, Warren, McDuffie, Wilkes, Elbert, and Hart counties connecting to the Transco pipeline in Hart County in addition to crossing the Savannah River to make a second connection with Transco in Anderson, SC. The purpose of two connections is to allow EEP to transport natural gas between Georgia and South Carolina through their own pipes in order to avoid tariffs charged by Transco for the interstate crossing. These avoided tariffs amount to $54 million annually.

Landowners for Environmental and Economic Protection (LEEP) are still very active with legal representation and continue to oppose the pipeline contrary to any rumors otherwise. At this point, the pipeline is still not a "done deal" or a "sure thing" as several pipeline agents may continue to claim.

There is only one sure thing, if members of LEEP had not persevered for over two years, our area would definitely have its first transmission pipeline with more to follow. Because of LEEP's efforts there is at least a chance this area will not end up like the proposed southern segment. Elba Express Pipelines is the fourth transmission pipe out of Savannah traversing their lands to Wrens. Once a right of way is established, it can be shared with other utilities and just grows wider.

There are currently three legal scenarios taking place simultaneously. First, LEEP's appeal to overturn FERC's approval of the project is now in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court issued a brief schedule in October. LEEP's attorneys will file their brief this month. However, the wheels of the justice system turn very slowly. The schedule included deadlines for each side to respond and counter with final briefs slated for March.

In the meantime, Elba is "bulldozing" forward by initiating condemnation proceedings not only against LEEP members, but also against other individual landowners unwilling to sign over easements. These proceedings have been countered for LEEP members by their attorneys who filed motions to stay the proceedings until after the appeal is heard and a decision is rendered by the US Court of Appeals.

LEEP hopes to prevail and stop this gross misuse of eminent domain by a "private for profit" company that will provide no service to our area. If LEEP's appeal is successful, ALL potentially impacted landowners along the proposed route will benefit. If LEEP's appeal is not successful, LEEP members will still be proud of their efforts which will have at least resulted in fair compensation for landowners.

On behalf of LEEP,

Latha Anderson, McDuffie County; Joe and Debbie Bennett, Wilkes County; Lincoln and Cindy Bounds, Wilkes County; Bill and Fran Robinson, Wilkes County; Almond Standard, Wilkes County; Rick and Gina Thomas, Elbert County

Web posted on Thursday, November 20, 2008

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