The Solicitor General of South Carolina has issued this opinion letter, answering the following three questions about a state statute which "purports to confer all rights, powers, and privileges given to telegraph and telephone companies" to pipeline companies:
- Since S.C. Code § 58-7-10 et seq. appears to mainly concern waterworks, sewage disposal, and natural gas lines, do its provisions also apply to oil and gasoline pipelines and extend to them the public power of eminent domain?
If your answer to Question 1 is "yes," then why isn't an extension of eminent domain power to a private, for-profit pipeline company unconstitutional under S.C. Article 1, § 13(A)?
If an oil and gas pipeline company has eminent domain authority, and this authority is not unconstitutional, must an oil or gasoline pipeline company follow all regulations, rules, legal requirements, or other policies or procedures that are applicable to telephone and telegraph companies when they acquire property or easements to run lines?
Short answers: (1) probably not; (2) it probably is unconstitutional under the South Carolina Constitution; and (3) not sure, but the usual process for challenging public use in the Court of Common Pleas should be followed.
Not binding on anyone, mind you, but an interesting analysis of South Carolina's law for those of us outside the Palmetto State.