Judge: Current Law Does Not Allow for Use of Eminent Domain for Controversial Pipeline Project

Mar 25, 2014

A Franklin County judge has ruled that Kentucky law doesn’t allow the use of eminent domain for a natural gas liquids pipeline. The move is the latest blow to the controversial Bluegrass Pipeline project.

The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids across Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico. The NGLs are used in manufacturing processes, but the project has been controversial because of worries about the project's environmental impact and safety concerns.

A measure to block NGL pipelines from using eminent domain is moving through the state legislature, but the Franklin County ruling adds another legal hurdle to the project. Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that the pipeline doesn’t fall under the commonwealth’s definition of “public service,” and thus couldn’t use eminent domain.

Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council filed the lawsuit on behalf of several Kentucky landowners.

"Certainly having this decision is helpful because it sends a message to landowners that they don’t need to negotiate out of fear, they can negotiate out of a voluntary intent," Fitzgerald said.

A spokesman for the companies behind the Bluegrass Pipeline says they will appeal the ruling.