Groups Protest Gas Pipeline At Ky. Capitol

Aug 7, 2013

FRANKFORT, Ky.-- Land owners joined environmental activists at the state capitol Wednesday to oppose a pipeline that would carry flammable liquids through several counties in northern Kentucky.


Some residents spoke during a brief rally about their fear of the proposed underground pipeline, which is being developed by a partnership of two energy companies. The more than 1,000-mile Bluegrass pipeline would carry a byproduct of the natural gas refining process from the northeast to a connection in Breckinridge County.

The group delivered a petition to Gov. Steve Beshear's office that asks the governor to put pipeline-related issues on the agenda for the special session of the General Assembly that begins Aug. 19.

Stacie Meyer said she noticed survey markers going up near her Pendleton County property a few weeks ago, and did Internet searches and talked to neighbors to find out what they were for.

"We found out that most of Pendleton County has no idea what the Bluegrass pipeline is or what kind of dangerous chemicals it is going to be pushing through the pipeline right under our feet," Meyer said.

The controversy in Kentucky is an offshoot of the environmental debate raging in several states over fracking, a process in which water and sand are injected underground to access deposits of shale oil and gas. The natural gas liquids that would travel through the Kentucky pipeline would come from fracking sites in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Meyer and other land owners said they're concerned the pipeline builders could use eminent domain laws, which give governments the right to take property for public purposes with compensation, to cut a pathway through privately owned lands. Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners of Houston are constructing the pipeline, which would connect natural gas sources in the Marcellus and Utica shale gas areas in the Northeast to export markets on the Gulf coast.

The request to Beshear was made in a petition containing more than 5,200 signatures.

Beshear, a Democrat, has declined to put the issue on the coming special session agenda, but he said in a statement Wednesday that his staff "is monitoring this issue very closely."

"Because there are a number of issues to be resolved before any definitive action can be taken by the Bluegrass pipeline owners, including whether the company can use eminent domain to acquire right-of-way, placing this issue on the agenda for the August special session would be premature," Beshear said.

Residents at the rally Wednesday are also concerned that pipeline leaks could potentially pollute underground water sources. The natural gas liquids contain flammable substances, including butane and propane, and are used in the manufacture of plastics.

"If it leaks, and I've never known of a pipeline that doesn't leak anywhere, it will go straight into Kentucky's water system," said Sue Massek, a musician from Willisburg who attended the protest.