SB 173 (sponsored by Houston County's state Sen. Ross Tolleson) went down after some heavy environmental lobbying, and perhaps because the lines in question run through some heavy hitter's districts in the Georgia House.
But during the relatively intense lobbying on the bill a Colonial Pipeline spokesman more than intimated that, if Georgia didn't play ball and relax expansion rules, his company might take its oil elsewhere.
Since Colonial supplies most of the state's petroleum... well, it was an arm twister.
But it looks like Colonial has decided to expand its lines anyway, and will go through the longer process to get the needed government signoffs. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Will state officials move quickly to approve the new lines? Will there be some lingering fallout from the politicking of the session? If so, will fuel needs trump them? Was Colonial right when it argued that the permitting process takes too long or was that, as environmentalists argued, just an excuse for a power grab?
This is from a Colonial press release:
ATLANTA (July 12, 2007) – Colonial Pipeline Company filed an application today with the Georgia Department of Transportation requesting a certificate that will facilitate construction of a third petroleum pipeline to supply the growing demand for fuel. The certificate of public convenience and necessity is required for Colonial’s new line, which would be constructed along the same route as Colonial’s existing two mainlines. While those lines originate in the Gulf Coast, the Georgia section is from the Alabama state line to Austell in suburban Atlanta. Currently, Colonial’s pipelines are unable to meet demand approximately 25 percent of the year. With the region’s economic and population growth, supplies will become tighter without the additional pipeline.