Building pipeline support, one chicken, lamb and goat at a time
by Katherine Blunt (feat. Kevin Birn)
July 4, 2018
Last July, Allen Fore made a name for Kinder Morgan at the Harrison County Fair in the tiny Ohio town of Cadiz, a rural community atop the burgeoning Marcellus shale fields that span the Appalachian Mountains.
The Houston pipeline company’s vice president of public affairs, attending the annual livestock auction, bid $4,700 on champion ducks, chickens and rabbits to support the schoolchildren who raised them. It was part of the company’s years-long effort to generate support for its $540 million Utopia pipeline by holding dozens of community meetings and otherwise courting favor along a 215-mile path between Cadiz and the Michigan border.
The charm offensive is part of the new reality for the nation’s largest pipeline companies, no longer able to simply push through projects as rising concerns about climate change, pollution and damage to natural resources prompt unprecedented scrutiny and opposition from environmentalists, landowners and political leaders. In the wake of several high-profile controversies that have collectively cost them billions of dollars, Kinder Morgan and other industry giants are amplifying efforts to foster public support and prevent legal challenges that could force costly delays or worse — project abandonment.