NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Soon the state of Tennessee could decide if a pipeline shows up in your backyard and your local government could have little to no say. That’s because a bill proposed in the state legislature would prohibit counties and cities from stopping a pipeline from being built and leave that decision to the state.
The bill (HB 2246/SB 2077) being guided by GOP lawmakers is moving to limit the ability for localities to decide if a pipeline should run through their communities.
“It preempts political subdivisions of this state from taking any action to restrict, prohibit or otherwise impair the development and implementation of the types of the sources of energy that may be used, delivered, or converted or supplied,” said Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston) during committee.
Yager, who is sponsoring the Senate version, is using this bill to take aim at local governments like Shelby County which fought against a pipeline that would have run through a primarily Black neighborhood.
“We’ve actually had one of our political subdivisions try to use the power of ordinance to stop and did stop a pipeline,” Yager said.
It’s a controversial issue that could lead to environmental concerns, as well as significant changes to all counties, according to an environmental lawyer who testified on Capitol Hill.
“If it passed, it would affect every county commission, city government, school board, and local water authority in all 95 counties, and it would tell each of those local governments that when out of state companies want to run high-pressure crude oil petroleum or methane gas pipelines through their communities, local government will have no say about where that infrastructure is placed,” said George Nolan, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Democrats say local control over pipelines is proper and shouldn’t be usurped by state government.
“When you want to put something as serious as a pipeline with such high pressure that if something happens it will absolutely devastate the community—that is not something you should have to appeal to the state,” said Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis).
According to the Fiscal Review of the bill, the precise impact could not be determined, but a restriction could cost local communities tax revenue and a possible increase in state and local tax revenue may occur.