Energy giant Kinder Morgan has big ambitions. The firm aspires to multiply its coal export capacity in the Gulf Coast region even as it seeks permission to build a huge new oil pipeline in the Pacific Northwest. These projects could boost Kinder Morgan’s profits, but they also raise serious questions about what the projects might cost neighboring communities.
Today, Sightline Institute is publishing a new report, “The Facts about Kinder Morgan,” that examines the facts about the company’s behavior. The report reveals that the company’s track record is one of pollution, law-breaking, and cover-ups.
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In public, Kinder Morgan points out that it is already operating coal export facilities in Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas. Or, as the company’s spokesperson said when the firm was pushing a failed coal export plan in Oregon, “What we’re proposing is not something we don’t already do.” And that’s exactly the problem.
The truth is that Kinder Morgan’s existing operations are well known for blighting neighborhoods and fouling rivers. Here are the facts:
- 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 settlement from Kinder Morgan because their homes and belongings were so often covered in coal dust.
- In Houston, Kinder Morgan’s terminal operators leave coal and petcoke, a highly toxic byproduct of oil refining, in uncovered piles several stories high. 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 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 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.
- 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.
For more details and all supporting references, please see Sightline’s new report, “The Facts about Kinder Morgan.”