Lawmakers to consider limiting local governments say in oil, gas pipeline construction in Tennessee

Part of bill to attract infrastructure projects
Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 15:47:19-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Could oil and gas pipelines soon be built closer to local schools and waterways?

This week, lawmakers will hear a proposal that would keep local governments from stopping the construction of a pipeline regardless of the plans. The Southern Environmental Law Center is against the idea.

"When an out-of-state crude oil pipeline or petroleum pipeline or methane gas pipeline wants to put something through their community, their local government will have no say where it actually placed," said George Nolan, Senior Attorney at Nashville's Southern Environmental Law Center office.

This week, state lawmakers will consider HB2246/SB2077, drafted to determine what kinds of utility infrastructure improvements are needed to attract development and investment, that also would take away local government's ability to restrict or prohibit pipeline construction.

"If an out-of-state methane gas pipeline company decided that the shortest and least expensive route for a big pipeline is near a local school, then a county commission, school board, any local government entity would have absolutely nothing to say about that," Nolan said.

Environmentalists say they're trying to prevent a repeat of the 1992 Dickson County pipeline leak.

"Flames shot 200 feet in the air. It burned about 400 acres of rolling farm land. What if the pipeline had been near a local school or neighborhood?" he said.

The House Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce and Labor Committee will vote on the proposal on Tuesday. SELC vows to fight to stop it.

"What we don't want to do is silence the local government voices that are closest to the people that live in these communities," he said.