Community pressure mounts to reject Nashville-area natural gas compressors

Nashville residents in two neighborhoods are challenging plans to put a pair of massive natural gas compressors totaling more than 100,000 horsepower inside the city limits.

They’re joined by a growing list of elected leaders, including Congressman Jim Cooper, who are backing Nashville’s attempts to control the placement of industrial facilities through air-quality regulations and zoning.

Cooper recently wrote to federal regulators that he opposes plans to “(force) our community to live next to this nuisance.”

The worries for the Joelton and Antioch communities are noise pollution, and emissions like nitrogen dioxide that can trigger breathing problems for children and adults with asthma. Natural gas compressors have also been linked to spikes in ozone, another lung irritant.

“When you have a child with asthma, living this close, that’s scary,” said Joelton mother Jennifer Mayo, whose home is just over a mile from the site of a planned 60,000 horsepower compressor. “Joelton is a very, very special place. We cannot stand by and watch this happen to us. It’s not OK.”

Mayo’s aunt, Norma Harvison, was instrumental along with her late husband in building the neighborhood’s Paradise Ridge Community Center. She worries a compressor next to the playgrounds and ball fields will foul the air and make some kids sick.

"You can’t ask those kids to come here,” she said. “It’s not a good situation.”

No other major metropolitan city is being asked to shoulder so many new and powerful compressors.

“These proposed industrial facilities exist to help the gas industry maximize profits,” said Anne Passino, an SELC attorney. “The industry wants to send more gas at higher volumes to the Gulf Coast for export. These compressors have virtually no local benefit. In fact, they’re harmful to our neighborhoods.”

At a public hearing Tuesday, hundreds of Nashville residents are expected to support the city’s ordinance to restrict where the natural gas compressors can be built. They’re urging the state to let Nashville’s ordinance stand.

The Joelton compressor is planned for a plot of land now owned by Kinder Morgan that abuts a popular community center.

“It will ruin the nature of this community,” said Joelton resident Sharon Felton, one of several neighbors that formed a coalition to challenge the compressor. “It’s purely a business transaction for the company. And when I balance that against the harmful effects of the air pollution, the noise pollution, it doesn’t seem like something we want in our neighborhood.”

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