“I didn’t think we could stop it but I thought we had to try,” Alan Zipperer tells me as we walk around his Effingham County farm. He’s talking about the Palmetto Pipeline, a project he wasn’t shy about saying he opposed. Wednesday, Kinder Morgan announced via its website that the company is suspending the project due to recent legislation passed by the Georgia Legislature which effectively puts a moratorium on the pipeline until June of 2017. “Well, I think that our legislators listened to the people,” he told me.
Zipperer’s has owned land in Effingham County for over 200 years and he didn’t want an oil pipeline, saying if there was a leak of any kind, it could have damaged his wells and his family’s water supply. He also didn’t appreciate what he called Kinder Morgan’s attempts to bully him into allowing his land to be surveyed for the pipeline route. “I had a man come Good Friday a year ago and told me they’re going to survey my land, they were coming through it and they were too big to stop. He said Kinder Morgan is too big a company, you can’t get in their way. Well, I’m not sure I got in their way but somebody sure did,” he said.
Zipperer says last year at this time he really had his doubts that anything could stop the project even though he was determined not to give up land against his will. “A private company should never be able to use Eminent domain to take other private people’s land,” he said.
In the end, it was that argument from landowners that prompted the bill which pipeline opponents are urging Governor Nathan Deal to sign quickly.
Zipperer is encouraged but says so far Kinder Morgan has not said it is dropping the project, only that it is suspending it. “They could try to bring it back next year,” he says.
But Zipperer is hoping that by next year at this time there is more action from lawmakers to simply outlaw the use of Eminent Domain by a private company.
“It’s a good day,” he told me. “Today I feel like the little guy still has a chance.”