Kinder Morgan lawsuit going to Supreme Court

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By Stan Welch
At their most recent meeting, the Anderson County Council voted to file an amicus brief in connection with a lawsuit in Hawaii that is going to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).
The ruling in that case will have a significant impact on a case pending against Kinder Morgan, the owner of the pipeline that leaked and spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel into the watershed in the Belton/Cheddar area. That suit was brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of other environmental organizations.
In the Kinder Morgan case, a federal district court ruled that citizens’ groups seeking to sue companies responsible for such events had no standing in cases where pollutants were seeping into waterways. The appeals court reversed that ruling, leading Kinder Morgan to petition the SCOTUS to hear their appeal.
That appeal is being held in abeyance as the Hawaii case, which is strikingly similar, proceeds. The amicus brief approved by the Council basically attaches the two cases, making separate, distinct rulings unnecessary. It incurs no cost to the county to join the existing suit.
District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, whose district includes the site of the original leak, says that Kinder Morgan is trying to avoid responsibility for what she calls “a terrible mess”. SCDHEC continues to monitor the potential spread of the inground pollutants. Concerns that Broadway Lake lies downstream deepen the impact that could be felt.
DHEC officials have expressed the agency’s commitment to holding the company accountable for the cleanup, which they say will likely last more than a decade.