Bluegrass Pipeline

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.

Jonathan Meador

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.

Erica Peterson, Kentucky Public Radio

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.

The company that wants to build the Bluegrass Pipeline says it has the right to use eminent domain to take easements against landowners who don’t want to sell.  But, the state’s energy secretary has a different opinion. Len Peters says after reviewing state law, he believes, the Williams Company and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners of Texas would not have the right to take land using eminent domain.

The controversial pipeline project would take a liquid produced in the natural gas refining process across Northern and Central Kentucky en route to the Gulf Coast. 

Opponents of the pipeline have not only objected to potential use of eminent domain, but also over environmental concerns.  Each side spoke to lawmakers Thursday at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment.

A spokesman for a company planning to build a pipeline through Kentucky says the proposed route for the project would avoid land owned by a group of Marion County nuns known as the Sisters of Loretto.

The Sisters had refused to allow the project's surveyors to enter their 780-acre property.

The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline would connect natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia with export centers on the Gulf Coast.

One proposed path of the pipeline would extend through northern Kentucky southward into Nelson, Larue, Hardin, Meade and Breckenridge counties.

A spokesman for Williams Company said Wednesday that the proposed route would "stay well to the north of Marion County." Pipeline opponents, including the Sisters of Loretto, have demonstrated against the project, saying it poses environmental risks.

Kentucky LRC

Kentucky lawmakers will hear from both advocates and opponents of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline Thursday.

If it’s built, the Bluegrass Pipeline would cross more than a dozen central Kentucky counties, carrying natural gas liquids from the Northeast to the Gulf of Mexico. Land agents have been in the state for several months, talking to landowners and asking for permission to survey property.

Some have agreed, but the project has attracted significant grassroots opposition from Kentuckians worried about the safety and environmental issues the pipeline could bring.

Pipeline company Williams says the pipeline would spur economic development and reduce the cost of consumer goods.

The Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment meets at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Capitol Annex.

A developer behind a proposed pipeline that would run through parts of Kentucky is holding an open-house meeting  in Hardin County Thursday night to explain their plans. Williams, a construction company based in Tulsa, OK., is  hosting the meeting at Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown from 5-7:30 p.m.

The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids from sources in the northeast through northern Kentucky, and into several counties in our listening area, including Hardin, Nelson, Meade, Larue, and Breckinridge.

Pipeline opponents delivered a petition to Governor Beshear’s office Wednesday detailing their concerns about possible environmental damage and property rights concerns related to the project.

Governor Beshear has declined to add the pipeline issue to the agenda of a special legislative session that begins Aug. 19 in Frankfort. Beshear says he wants the sole item on the agenda to be legislative redistricting.

Land owners and environmentalists are gathering in Frankfort Wednesday to protest a proposed pipeline that would carry flammable liquids through several counties in northern Kentucky. A partnership of two energy companies announced a plan earlier this year to build the underground pipeline.

The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids from sources in the northeast to a connection in Breckinridge County. A proposed route for the pipeline would also go through other counties in our listening area, including Hardin, Nelson, Meade, and Larue.

Environmental groups, including Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, are planning to take a petition to Gov. Steve Beshear's office Wednesday afternoon. In a statement, the groups say they are concerned the pipeline project will use eminent domain laws to cut a pathway through privately owned lands.

Several landowners have voiced opposition to the project, and local governments in Franklin, Scott and Marion counties have passed resolutions opposing the pipeline.

Governor Steve Beshear’s son is working on behalf of the developers behind the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. The project would carry natural gas liquids through Kentucky and down to the Gulf Coast region.

The State Journal in Frankfort reports that attorney Andrew Beshear works for a law firm that has performed services for a subsidiary of Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, one of the two companies developing the Bluegrass Pipeline. The younger Beshear told the paper his firm was hired through a long-time client and that services are provided by more than a dozen attorneys.

The news comes as critics of the pipeline have been asking Governor Beshear to consider adding the issue to the agenda of a special legislative session coming up later this month—something Beshear says is unnecessary.

A spokesman for the Bluegrass Pipeline project says Andrew Beshear was not hired because of his relationship to the governor.

The pipeline would cut through northern Kentucky and into Hardin, Larue, Meade, Nelson, and Breckinridge counties.

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