Pipeline route from www.bluegrasspipeline.com
UPDATE- Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 - Erica Peterson of WFPL is reporting this afternoon that IF the Bluegrass Pipeline gets built, it will be built a year later than planned. WFPL Report
(Clinton KY - February 18, 2014) - An issue getting a great deal of press, ink and airtime in Central Kentucky that isn't reaching this part of the state is the Bluegrass Pipeline.
Bluegrass Pipeline, a joint effort of the Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LLC will build lines through thirteen Kentucky counties before connecting with an existing line in Breckinridge County. The line will then move south through the eastern portion of the Purchase and western portion of the Pennyrile.
The proposed pipeline will transmit ethane, propane, butane, isobutane and pentane liquids from Pennsylvania to Louisiana for processing.
"The proposed pipeline will transport natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale producing areas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to the developing petrochemical market in the Northeast U.S., as well as the rapidly expanding petrochemical and export complex on the U.S. Gulf Coast." www.Bluegrasspipeline.com
Products of fracking, these gases are highly flammable and explosive. Last week, an explosion of a natural gas pipeline in Adair County, which lies east of Bowling Green and is home to Lindsey Wilson College, destroyed two nearby houses and sent two people to the hospital. The cause of the explosion is not known at this time and the company operating that line is not the same as the company proposing the Bluegrass Pipeline.
Opponents mention the explosion and a sinkhole that formed inside the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green sending eight classic cars tumbling into the hole among their concerns about the pipeline.
According to a report on PBS reprinted on their website
"There have been several pipeline explosions in recent years, including one in eastern Kentucky in 2004, that destroyed five homes and injured 12 people. That pipeline wasn’t operated by Williams Company, but by one of its competitors. For its part, Williams Company has paid more than $300 million in fines since 2003 for violations ranging from failure to report financial information to improper maintenance of its pipelines. In its statement the company said, “While our goal is zero leaks, our leak record during the past decade is much lower than the industry average.” PBS: Nuns oppose pipeline
The Pipeline is being vehemently contested by activists in Central Kentucky. A group called KURE (Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain) filed suit in Franklin Circuit Court in December asking a judge to decide if eminent domain, the right of the state to condemn private property for public use, can be used by the Pipeline.
Bluegrass Pipeline representatives have said the company has a right to use eminent domain, but their lawyers have said KURE's suit should be dismissed because eminent domain hasn't been used yet. They may have to try to use eminent domain because opposition to the project is growing.
Among those opposing the project are the Dominican Sisters of Peace, the monks at Gethsemane Abbey, home of Thomas Merton and a popular retreat spot and the Sisters of Charity at Nazareth, Kentucky. The religious join area residents and conservationists in their opposition.
Opponents also point to the dangers of fracking. They fear damage to the water table, lakes and rivers and soil pollution. Fracking brings up gases by forcing water laced with chemicals down hundreds of feet down into the substrata. Gases displaced by liquids come to the surface for harvesting. What chemicals are used vary from site to site. Some companies refuse to disclose their cocktails. Fracking companies say they retrieve the liquids forced into the wells. Opponents disagree and argue that chemicals and polluted water are left behind.
The General Assembly is in session and lawmakers are taking notice of the eminent domain angle of the Pipeline. Several bills have been filed to restrict the use of eminent domain for oil and gas pipelines. Two bills, SB 14 and 21 have been filed in the Kentucky Senate by Senator Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon.
The House also has bills. The companion to SB 21, House Bill 60 has been filed in the House by Rep. David Floyd (R- Bardstown), Kim King (R-Harrodsburg), Mike Harmon (R-Danville), Terry Mills (D-Lebanon), Ben Waide (R- Madisonville) and Jim Wayne (D- Louisville). Rep. John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville) filed HB 31 requiring condemnation authority to get approval from the Public Service Commission.
Another bill, SB 35 seeks to expand the Public Service Commission from three members to seven.
Politics are involved. Governor Beshear's son, Andrew Beshears, works for Stites & Harbison, the law firm that represents Boardwalk. The Governor says nothin' to see. (He worked for Stites & Harbison until his election in 2007.) The younger Beshears has announced he will be a candidate for attorney general in 2016.
At this writing, the company has filed easements for over 60% of Bluegrass Pipeline's new route.
If the Bluegrass Pipeline is built, then West Kentucky will be the next stop for ethane, propane, butane, isobutane and pentane liquids. There won't be an eminent domain fight. Boardwalk will be using already existing Texas Gas pipelines.
From Bluegrasspipeline.com website:
"Converting a portion of Texas Gas from Hardinsburg, Ky., to Eunice, La., (the “TGT Loop Line”) from natural gas service to NGL service, including construction of new pump stations and related facilities."
The fight over Bluegrass Pipeline pits fracking adherents against conservationists and landowners. Who wins will have repercussions in politics, environmentalism, energy and land use for years to come.