Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pipeline Opponents Charge Permit Is Recruitment Tool, Political Favor

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Opponents of a 12 mile pipeline to the Nolichucky River are charging that the permit for that pipeline
was issued as a political favor and a corporate recruitment tool.
The charges are included in an 18-page motion for summary judgment filed in Davidson Chancery Court in a suit challenging the legality of a state permit that made the US Nitrogen pipeline possible.
The motion states that the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which issued the permit on July 31, 2014, does not have the authority "to issue a utility occupancy permit to chemical manufacturers."
The filing comes as an opposing motion seeking outright dismissal of the suit is scheduled for a Friday hearing in Nashville before Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman.
The suit was filed by Nashville attorney Elizabeth Murphy, who represents Greene County landowners, including two who have charged that US Nitrogen trespassed on their property to install the pipeline.
TDOT, US Nitrogen and the Industrial Development Board "came across private farms with the disputed pipeline" accompanied by armed security, the motion states. 
TDOT lawyers have asked for the suit to be dismissed asserting that the agency does have the legal authority to issue a permit on state highway right-of-way.
Citing the applications filed by US Nitrogen to TDOT last year, the summary judgment motion notes that the application itself cites the support of Gov. Bill Haslam.
Referring to the state law governing right-of-way permits, the filing states that the permits should only be granted to utilities and not as "political gift packages."
Instead of going to a utility serving the general public, the permit was issued as a "corporate recruitment tool promoted by politicians to bring chemical manufacturers to East Tennessee,"the motion states.
Also filed by Murphy was a 10-page statement of undisputed facts, which recounts the history of the pipeline application, including an initial rejection by TDOT.
Stating that US Nitrogen "can pay for water like everyone else," the filing notes that the company initially said it planned to purchase needed water from local utilities, but then abandoned those plans.
The hearing on the summary judgment motion is scheduled for Nov. 6.

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