Friday, May 6, 2016

Judge Issues Dismissal in Pipeline Suit

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A Davidson Chancery Court judge has issued an eight-page ruling officially dismissing a suit brought by six residents of Greene and Cocke County challenging the legality of a state permit for a controversial pipeline project.
In the decision formally issued Thursday, Judge Claudia C. Bonnyman concluded that none of the plaintiffs met the three requirements needed under Tennessee law to challenge the pipeline permit issued by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Bonnyman had verbally ruled against the suit months ago, but had not issued a formal written ruling.
The suit was brought by Ann Calfee, Don Bible, Jack Renner, Jeremiah Cluesman, Ruth Dolin and Reuben Stone.
All live along the Nolichucky River, the starting and ending point for the 12-mile pipeline already built to accommodate US Nitrogen, which intends to use millions of gallons of water per day in the production of ammonium nitrate at its new Greene County facility.
Bonnyman in her decision did not reach the central question raised in the suit: whether TDOT had the legal authority to grant the permit to a company that was admittedly not a public utility.
Instead Bonnyman focused on the the legal standing of the six plaintiffs to bring the suit in the first place.
She concluded that none of the petitioners met any of the three state law requirements.
"The petitioners have not experienced any direct injury due to the issuance of the permit by TDOT; no causal connection exists between the issuance of the permit and the injuries alleged by the petitioners; and the petitioners alleged injuries cannot be redressed by revoking the permit," the ruling states.
The suit is one of several filed in efforts to block the US Nitrogen project. Other challenges have been rejected in Greene County courts.
According to records of the state Department of Environment and Conservation US Nitrogen has begun to draw water from the Nolichucky although the plant itself has not formally begun operations.
Bonnyman's ruling granted motions to dismiss filed by TDOT, US Nitrogen and the Industrial Development Board of Greeneville and Greene County.

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