Bill to Clarify Eminent Domain Law for Bluegrass Pipeline Passes House Committee

A legislative committee has advanced a bill to clarify Kentucky’s eminent domain laws. If the bill becomes law it will affect plans for the Bluegrass Pipeline.

This is the second week in a row that the House Judiciary Committee heard discussion on a committee substitute to a bill that would amend Kentucky law to clarify that natural gas liquids pipelines—including the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline—aren’t eligible for eminent domain in the commonwealth.

Natural gas liquids are the byproducts of natural gas drilling…materials like butane, ethane and propane. The companies behind the Bluegrass Pipeline have said they believe they could use eminent domain to obtain easements for the project under Kentucky law, but others, including the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and Attorney General Jack Conway, have disagreed.

For more WFPL coverage of the Bluegrass Pipeline, click here.

In the House Judiciary Committee today, legislators heard from landowners who don’t want the pipeline, and asked them to vote in favor of the bill. Cindy Foster lives in Scott County, and said that pipeline representatives told her they could condemn her property under eminent domain if she wouldn’t voluntarily sign an easement. She urged legislators to pass the bill.

“When you vote, you’re voting for my rights as a citizen of the commonwealth and that I should have a say whether I want this natural gas liquids pipeline to come through my property,” she said.

None of the representatives in attendance from the laborers’ international union, which has previously voiced support for the pipeline, spoke.  But Representative Johnny Bell spoke directly to those union members when casting his vote.

“Your job is important to you and it’s important to us, but I feel that a person’s property rights is one of the highest rights that we have in this country, so I vote yes on that and thank you all for being here today,” he said.

In a statement, Bluegrass Pipeline project spokesman Tom Droege called the legislation unnecessary. “We believe that current federal and state laws are more than adequate in terms of oversight and regulation of both the construction and operation of the Bluegrass Pipeline and that no new legislation is needed,” he wrote in an email. “Kentucky already has over 12,000 miles of liquid fuels pipelines and singling out NGL pipelines that are regulated in the same manner by the federal government is unnecessary.”

Now that the bill has cleared committee, it will be up for a vote on the House floor before it goes to the Senate.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

Comments