Energy giant Kinder Morgan has big ambitions. Best known for its empire of oil and natural gas pipelines, the firm aspires to enlarge its role in coal transport too. Expanding its export terminals in Louisiana and Texas would increase Kinder Morgan’s coal export capacity in the Gulf Coast region from roughly 5 million tons annually in recent years to nearly 29 million tons.
These coal terminal expansions could boost Kinder Morgan’s profits, but they also raise questions about what the projects might cost neighboring communities. The company’s existing coal export operations are well known for blighting neighborhoods and fouling rivers. In fact the company’s track record is one of pollution, law-breaking, and cover-ups.The Facts about Kinder Morgan
Kinder Morgan has been found guilty of numerous violations:
- Kinder Morgan has been fined numerous times by the US government for stealing coal from customers’ stockpiles, lying to air pollution regulators, illegally mixing hazardous waste into gasoline, and many other crimes.
- Kinder Morgan’s pipelines are plagued by leaks and explosions, including two large and dangerous spills in residential neighborhoods in Canada. One hedge fund analyst has accused the firm of “starving” its pipelines of maintenance spending.
- Kinder Morgan was convicted on six felony counts after one of its pipelines in California exploded, killing five workers.
- In Louisiana, Kinder Morgan’s terminal spills coal directly into the Mississippi River and nearby wetlands. The pollution is so heavy that satellite photos show coal-polluted water spreading from the facility in black plumes. The same site generates so much wind-blown coal dust that nearby residents won a class action lawsuit because their homes and belongings are so often covered in coal dust.
- In South Carolina, coal dust from Kinder Morgan’s terminal contaminates the bay’s oysters, pilings, and boats. Locals have videotaped the company washing coal directly into sensitive waterways.
- In Houston, Kinder Morgan’s terminal operators leave coal and petcoke, a highly toxic byproduct of oil refining, piled several stories high on its properties. The company’s petcoke operations are so dirty that even the firm’s promotional literature shows plumes of black dust blowing off its equipment.
- In Virginia, Kinder Morgan’s coal export terminal is an open sore on the neighborhood, coating nearby homes in dust so frequently that the mayor has spoken out about the problem.
- In Oregon, Kinder Morgan officials bribed a ship captain to illegally dump contaminated material at sea, and the firm’s operations have repeatedly polluted the Willamette River.
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