Environment
11:32 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Marion, Scott County Magistrates Pass Resolutions on Bluegrass Pipeline

Two more counties have registered reservations about a project that would build a natural gas liquids pipeline across Kentucky.

Franklin County was the first to pass a resolution formally opposing the Bluegrass Pipeline. Last night, Marion County passed a similar resolution. Last week, Scott County passed a resolution that stops short of opposing the project, but urges the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake a full environmental impact study of the proposed pipeline, and expresses skepticism about the use of eminent domain in the process.

The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids from drilling operations in the Northeast to processing plants on the Gulf of Mexico. These liquids are the byproducts of fracking...while the methane component of the natural gas is what's burned in power plants, the leftovers like propane, butane and ethane can be made into plastics and rubber. Land agents hired by pipeline company Williams have been seeking permission to survey private property; some landowners have agreed, but there's also been significant opposition to the project from people worried about environmental effects and safety concerns.

The proposed route listed on Williams' Bluegrass Pipeline website doesn't currently include Marion County, but the county's fiscal court went ahead with passing a resolution anyway. County Judge-Executive John Mattingly says agents have been surveying in his county, and he suspects that's because grassroots opposition in neighboring Nelson County has necessitated the re-routing of the line.

"It's my understanding they're looking for another pathway because of resistance they've met so far in some other places," Mattingly said. "That may or may not be true, but it seems they're looking for a path of least resistance to me."

From the Marion County resolution:

The lack of advance review by any governmental body as to the necessity, alternatives, routing and public health, safety,, and environmental consequences of natural gas liquids pipelines such as this, creates a situation in which the adverse effects on Public health, safety, and the environment are  not carefully assessed, avoided and minimized, and mitigated. Those effects include heightened risks to Public Health and public safety associated with the transportation under pressure of flammable petroleum hydrocarbons; adverse impacts on the use and value of property of individual landowners; impacts on land, air, and water resources associated with leaks and spills; impacts on roads, and public land of local communities; and on local government emergency response capacity, including fire, police EMT, Public Health and environmental response services.

Williams sent the following statement in response to the county-level opposition:

The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline Project is in the very early stages of development.  We are just beginning our educational outreach efforts to local communities and ask that local officials and residents reserve judgment until they have heard all the facts and had their questions answered.  We are hosting three open house events in Kentucky next week and encourage all with questions to please attend and talk with the many experts who will be available.

Further, we are committed to constructing and operating a safe and reliable pipeline. It’s also important to understand that development and construction activity related to this pipeline will deliver significant jobs and serve as an economic boost to Kentucky.  The pipeline will transport natural gas liquids that are driving America’s affordable-energy revolution as well as fueling a renaissance in American chemical industry and manufacturing.

Marion County's resolution also urges Governor Steve Beshear to add NGL pipeline regulations and eminent domain procedures to the agenda for this month's special legislative session. Beshear said earlier this week he doesn't intend to do that.

Technically, Williams doesn't need permission from county fiscal courts to proceed with the pipeline.

Williams is holding open houses to answer questions about the pipeline in several counties, beginning next week. In Kentucky, the meetings are in Hardin, Franklin and Grant counties. I've posted a list of the meetings here.