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Opposition Mounts to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Conversion

PHOTO: Concerns are being raised all along the route over plans to repurpose a pipeline running from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. Photo credit: Roy Luck
PHOTO: Concerns are being raised all along the route over plans to repurpose a pipeline running from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast. Photo credit: Roy Luck
November 10, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Concerns are being raised by citizens and groups all along the route over plans to re-purpose the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which runs through the state on its way from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

The current proposal calls for converting the pipeline to carry natural gas liquids, which environmental advocate Chris Schimmoeller calls "a far different beast" from natural gas.

"Natural gas liquids are 150 times more explosive than natural gas," he says. "They carry dangers that natural gas doesn't. For example, when they leak, the natural gas liquids are colorless and odorless."

Energy conglomerates Kinder Morgan and MarkWest want to make the conversion to natural gas liquids by 2017.

Installed primarily in the 1950s, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline system now travels just over 1,000 miles from Louisiana to Pennsylvania. In Kentucky, Marion County Judge Executive John Mattingly is among those who oppose the idea.

"Unless you have a refinery project or something that could harness and utilize those materials, it doesn't really offer local communities through which it passes anything positive," he says.

In addition to the possible added danger, Schimmoeller notes, the focus should be moving away from fossil fuels.

"It's time to really look toward energies that can sustain us rather than destroy us slowly, which is what we are doing to ourselves," says Schimmoeller.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN