A statewide religious organization is urging Kentucky government to slow down and gather more information on the potential impacts of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline.
Kentucky Council of Churches Director Marian McClure Taylor says her group wants a more cautious approach taken on the Bluegrass Pipeline, which would connect natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia with export centers on the Gulf Coast.
“We don’t want accidents to happen, if they can be prevented,” Taylor said. “We don’t want to be in a situation later where we say you mean you didn’t have your best engineers take a look at the idea of how you were going to re-purpose those pipelines or how they’re going to be constructed or where the pressure stations are going to be.”
One proposed path of the pipeline would extend through northern Kentucky southward into Nelson, Larue, Hardin, Meade and Breckenridge counties.
Opponents of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline Thursday filed a lawsuit hoping to clarify whether eminent domain could be used for the project.
The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids from drilling operations in the Northeast to processing plants on the Gulf of Mexico. For the past few months, pipeline company representatives have been approaching landowners, trying to purchase easements for the project. But while the company says it believes it has the power to condemn property if necessary, Kentucky legal experts have disagreed.
Penny Greathouse is a board member of Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain, the group that filed the lawsuit. She says the uncertainty is a problem for landowners considering whether to sign contracts with the pipeline company.
“I feel like there’s a lot of easements that have been signed because the person themselves have felt like they would rather be on the top end as opposed to on the lower end and they feel like they don’t know if [Williams] can take their property or not, so they’re just going to go ahead and sign, just to be done with it.”
By filing the lawsuit, the pipeline’s opponents are hoping to find out the court’s interpretation of the law before a landowner ends up in court over the matter. They’re hoping for a decision in January.
Opponents of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline through Kentucky delivered a petition to Gov. Steve Beshear's office Tuesday morning, citing concerns over the project's impact on the state's environment and asking the governor to block it.
Roughly 40 activists led by religious groups from across the state delivered the petition to Debi Gall, a secretary in Beshear's office in the Capitol building. They spoke about the harm that the project, sought by Oklahoma-based pipeline company Williams, would cause on the Earth, which they referred to a gift from God.
"For too long, too many of us have stepped aside, looked the other way and allowed powerful, profit-motivated corporations to dictate to us how our environment is going to be treated," said David Whitlock, a pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church.
A government watchdog group is urging Gov. Steve Beshear to call a special session this fall to pass legislation to protect private landowners from companies that have said they may use eminent domain to get right of way for a controversial pipeline project.
Common Cause of Kentucky delivered a letter to Beshear's office on Wednesday.
The Bluegrass Pipeline, being built by Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners of Texas, would cross northern and central Kentucky.
The material to be carried by the pipeline is a liquid byproduct of the natural gas refining process that is used to make plastics, medical supplies and carpet, among other products.
Richard Beliles, chairman of Common Cause Kentucky, said the pipeline would pose a hazard risk to the state.
The chairman of the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee says he is pre-filing legislation that seeks to make clear that Kentuckians are free from the unregulated use of eminent domain.
Hopkinsville Democrat John Tilley says the issue should be clarified in light of the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. The proposed natural gas liquids pipeline would stretch from Pennsylvania to Louisiana, and cut through an estimated 13 Kentucky counties, including Breckinridge, Hardin, Larue, Meade, and Nelson.
Some landowners in counties along the proposed pipeline route have expressed concerns that the company would seek to use eminent domain laws to seize their land.
Rep. Tilley said in a news release issued by his office that the bill he has pre-filed will “strive to maintain the proper balance between those rights and economic development when it comes to safely transporting fossil fuels.”
"I believe the state needs to paint a brighter line on how pipelines like this are built and where they can be located."
The bill would put the Public Service Commission in the role of gatekeeper if those constructing pipelines can’t reach agreement with private landowners.