Tennesseans oppose proposed pipeline extension

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A proposed natural gas pipeline would cut through Middle Tennessee, but an environmental group is trying to stop it.

The Ridgeline pipeline would be 200 km long from Smith County to eastern Tennessee.

TVA said the project would provide greener energy, but activists say there are cleaner options.

TVA’s Kingston power plant has used coal for decades, but TVA is switching to natural gas.

To feed the plant, pipeline company Enbridge wants to extend a pipeline already running from Robertson County to Trousdale County and extending into Roane County.

TVA and Enbridge representatives addressed environmental concerns, saying construction of the pipeline would have little impact on the environment.

“The biggest misconception is that it will impact their water,” said Art Haskins, stakeholder engagement manager for Enbridge/East Tennessee Natural Gas. “It will have an impact on falls. This will have an impact on tourism. It will have such a big impact on the environment.”

“The air quality is much better with natural gas, especially when combined with solar and battery storage like we have with the Kingston Energy Complex,” explained Scott Brooks of TVA Relations.

TVA officials told News 2 that after hours of research and hours of listening to previous public comments, they believe it would be environmentally friendly and provide their growing customers with future affordable energy sources.

“Natural gas is incredibly affordable right now,” Brooks said. “The price of natural gas is as low as it has been in the last decade, so this is an option that not only allows us to remain, importantly, reliable, but also keeps our costs low.”

However, Dr. Cris Corley, a farmer and environmentalist from the affected counties, said renewable energy would be a cleaner option.

“I would like them to reconsider and switch to renewable energy,” said Corley, president of the TN chapter of the Sierra Club. “I don’t know how this would benefit the pipeline company. I know that there will be hydrogen pipelines in the future and I am not against burning hydrogen; the by-product is water.”

Corley believes extending the pipeline will harm trees and mountains, as well as threaten freshwater mussels.

“There are approximately 40 endangered species of Tennessee freshwater mussels,” Corley said. “Of course they will stir up mud, and that will not be healthy for the mussels that live in the river… They will cut through old mountain timber. I hate seeing it damaged. The feds will be able to take over our private properties to extend right-of-way and they will cut through our clean streams.

“Our plans call for zero impact to waterways,” Haskins said. “It’s a steel pipe; it will not leak. It has been designed, inspected and maintained.”

In a press release from the Sierra Club, activists cite fossil fuels as the cause of severe flooding and tornadoes in the state.

The club also stated in part: “Methane, the gas’s main component, is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, and TVA’s massive expansion of natural gas pipelines and power plants will continue to exacerbate the climate crisis.”

⏩ Read today’s top stories at

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will organize three open days where everyone can express their support or opposition.

Details of open days:

  • Tuesday, June 11, 2024, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT, Kingston Community Center, Kingston, TN
  • Wednesday, June 12, 2024, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM CDT, Cookeville High School, Cookeville, Tennessee
  • Thursday, June 13, 2024, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM CDT, Trousdale Community Center Hartsville, TN

Comments can also be submitted to the board online. These comments will impact the final design of the Ridgeline expansion project.