Press Release

Upper Cumberland residents push back on dangerous pipeline plans

PRESS RELEASE
October 6, 2022

CONTACT
Gabi Lichtenstein, Tennessee Energy Democracy Field Coordinator, (845) 518-3033, gabi@appvoices.org
Dan Radmacher, Media Specialist, (540) 798-6683, dan@appvoices.org

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Yesterday, Upper Cumberland residents from Jackson and Putnam counties came together to oppose a proposed pipeline in their communities. Dozens of residents attended the public meeting in Cookeville that was hosted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), during which the agency was seeking comments on the pipeline’s many environmental impacts.

The proposed 125-mile Ridgeline Expansion Project would be owned and operated by Enbridge Inc., a multinational pipeline giant based in Canada. If constructed, it would carry “natural gas” through eight Tennessee counties to the Kingston Fossil Plant, if the Tennessee Valley Authority converts the plant to gas.

“At the end of the day, a large corporation stands to gain a lot of money off of the land that we are all proud to call home,” said Erin Walker, a concerned resident in attendance. “Meanwhile, this community has everything to lose. … This pipeline is not needed and offers the community it plans to take from nothing.”

The pipeline would cross 150 to 200 waterways. If it contaminates groundwater or surface water during construction, rural communities could lose access to clean water for drinking and farming. Public safety could be threatened if the pipeline were to explode — like Enbridge’s existing pipeline in Smith County did in 2018. In Kentucky, another Enbridge gas pipeline exploded in 2019, tragically killing one woman, injuring six people and destroying five homes. While the vast majority of pipeline jobs are temporary, these risks to our communities are long-term.

In Jackson County alone, the pipeline would cut through Fort Blount, which is on the National Register of Historic Places; the Flynn Creek Impact Crater, which is one of the best-preserved ancient impact craters on earth; and possibly Indigenous historic sites, as records indicate their presence near the pipeline route. Many residents have already submitted comments to FERC expressing concern about the pipeline’s potential impact on these sites and others.

“It is time to question TVA’s involvement in expanded gas infrastructure and call attention to their ‘goal’ for decarbonization, which is currently set for 2050, which is out of compliance with a Biden mandate that calls for a carbon-free electric sector by 2035,” said Dominique Thibault, who is Mohawk and Cayuga.

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Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.

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