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Some Kentucky landowners don’t want underground pipeline coming through their farms



Published: Sat, December 21, 2013 @ 3:54 p.m.

Some Kentucky landowners don’t want underground pipeline coming through their farms

STAMPING GROUND, Ky.

The land agent first came knocking on Vivian and Dean House’s door in July. They sat on the patio of the retired couple’s 85-acre farm in this central Kentucky town and chatted.

The guy was friendly, the kind of guy Dean could talk to about fishing.

He put the couple at ease and told them his company was interested in running a pipeline through their land. They were later offered more than $165,000 to sign easements.

“My husband, Dean, he told them that he didn’t want ’em messing up his alfalfa field ... and didn’t want big machinery coming in and messing up the farm,” Vivian said about their land, where they raise cattle and grow alfalfa.

They were assured that wouldn’t happen.

They let the company survey for a section of the proposed 1,100-mile Bluegrass Pipeline. It would transport natural gas liquids from fracking in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to petrochemical markets in Louisiana.

The proposed pipeline would pass through eight states. New construction of around 500 miles would start in two places, Mercer County, Pa., and Marshall County, W.Va., cut through a big chunk of Ohio, including Mahoning and Columbiana counties locally, and 13 counties in Kentucky, meeting up with an existing pipeline in Breckinridge County, Ky., that goes to Louisiana.

Men mapped out where the pipeline could cut through the House’s property. They tied hot pink ribbons to fences and stuck thick wooden stakes in the ground.

But Vivian started having doubts when she learned it wasn’t a regular natural-gas line, but one that would carry flammable liquid byproducts of natural gas.

She worried that their land, naturally riddled with sinkholes and streams, could be contaminated by leaks.

“We are cattle and hay farmers,” she said. “And if it kills our cattle, we’re just gone.”

A project that pits big-energy companies against farmers and environmentalists is causing quite a stir.

“They are really enthusiastic about it in other states, but not so much in Kentucky,” Scott Carney, a spokesman for the Bluegrass Pipeline, said in early November.

Some Kentucky landowners told PublicSource they don’t want the pressurized 24-inch diameter underground pipeline coming through their farms because of concerns about public safety, potential destruction of property and environmental harm. Others said they see no public benefit to Kentuckians from a pipeline transporting liquids from the Northeast to make plastics in Louisiana or to export.

The project is a joint venture between two big pipeline companies, Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners. By 2015, the companies want the pipeline up and running, pushing up to 400,000 barrels of natural-gas liquids per day.

Natural-gas liquids from the shale boom, such as propane, butane and ethylene, are being used to make things like plastic bags and detergents.

Pipeline officials assure Kentuckians the Bluegrass Pipeline will be constructed and maintained safely. It will bring jobs to the region, add millions in local tax revenues and contribute to America’s energy independence, they said.

Some concerned Kentucky landowners have turned down big paydays, however.

“No Pipeline” and “Stop the Bluegrass Pipeline” signs are plastered to fences along dusty roads.

Despite the opposition, the pipeline developers seem to be making progress. They’ve signed more than 50 percent of the easements needed in Kentucky as of early December and are more than 40 percent complete along the entire route, Carney said.

Read more about the Bluegrass Pipeline in Sunday’s Vindicator.


Comments

1JoeFromHubbard(1036 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Not In My Back Yard !

The fracophobics make it difficult enough for oil and gas development and now there are impediments to delivery of the product.

The oil men will find a way to get the job done in spite of the head winds.

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2CentralKY(2 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

This project is opposed in KY by democrats, republicans, tea partiers, environmentalists, farmers, religious groups, attorneys, landowners, elected officials, and more. You know how to locate the pipeline route in KY because you start seeing "no bluegrass pipeline" signs in landowners's and neighbors' yards. Adding to the headwinds is the fact that the company has pushed back their open season because they couldn't get enough customer support in time for their December deadline. William's CFO also recently indicated that they'll need additional financing partners for the project so that the company can remain investment grade. Not much comfort in that sentiment if you are a landowner concerned about a potential spill, especially since Bluegrass is an LLC. And oh yeah, their claim of eminent domain power is being tested by a declaratory action in the Franklin County Court. Guess that's what happens when you name a hazardous liquids pipeline after the state nickname. Brilliant. They definitely have a Bluegrass kind of fight on their hands.

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