Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pipeline company has recorded only one easement in Woodford, at point where line would cross Ky. River

UPDATE: The pipeline partners announced late Wednesday that the project would be delayed as long as a year. Also, an earlier version of this story contained an incorrect address for the easement.

By Kayla Pickrell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Bluegrass Pipeline project that would carry natural gas liquids through northwestern Woodford County has filed only one easement in the county, but it indicates where the pipeline would cross the Kentucky River.

Opponents of the pipeline have focused much of their criticism on the number of streams that it would cross, with special attention to the river.

On the Bluegrass Pipeline website, a map of Kentucky roughly shows the proposed route for the line. The property with the easement, at 7400 McCracken Pike, lots 8 and 9 of the Shoreacres subdivision, appears to be in the route shown on the site.

The company is seeking easements from landowners in about a dozen counties, and says it has obtained about two-thirds of what it needs. Based on easements recorded with county clerks, it appears to have had more success in Scott and Anderson than in Woodford and Franklin.

Only two easements have been filed in Franklin County. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Monday that 80 had been filed in Anderson County and 57 in Scott County.

The Franklin County easements are for adjoining tracts that are separated from the Kentucky River and the Woodford County tract by two or three other tracts.
Combined property maps of Franklin and Woodford counties (click on image for large version)
Andy McDonald, a director of the Kentucky Conservation Committee, an environmental advocacy group, said that because the river serves as a water source for the area and feeds into the Ohio River, a leak could be “catastrophic to the water supply of millions of people, including Frankfort and Louisville.” He added, “This project really does need a specific environmental evaluation to the location the pipeline would be.”

The Woodford County easement is for property owned by Stephen K. Goodrich, whose address is listed as 7400 McCracken Pike. The Franklin County easements are for properties owned by James Randall Gay and Wanda Gay at 2551 Ninevah Road, Frankfort.

The McCracken Pike easement says Goodrich received “the sum of Ten and No/100 Dollars ($10.00), cash in hand paid and other good and valuable consideration,” Which is not specified.
In some other counties, early easements included a consideration certificate to show how much money changed hands. Such easements in Nelson County range from $5,000 to $48,162.

Goodrich’s easement says the transaction is not subject to the law taxing property transfers, which requires that the actual consideration be revealed so the proper transfer tax can be levied.

Joe Hollier, a pipeline representative, said it has obtained easements in the Midway area but did not explain why they have not been recorded. He said the company was not able to discuss details of the easements. But he said in an email, “So far, Kentuckians have received more than $27 million for easements, much of which will flow through local economies.”

Some landowners have refused to grant easements. Pipeline officials say they have the right to condemn property, with court-ordered compensation, under the state law giving eminent domain to energy pipelines. Opponents argue that the pipeline lacks condemnation power because it would not serve Kentucky customers as a utility.

Bills have been filed in the legislature to clearly prohibit the use of eminent domain by such pipelines. Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, plans to hold held a hearing at noon Wednesday on his House Bill 31, which would allow condemnation with permission of the state Public Service Commission, which would have to solicit input from the public and act in the public interest, considering protection of the environment, including groundwater; “reasonableness” of the route; “promotion of a safe and efficient transportation infrastructure,” and “safety, construction and operational protocols” of the pipeline.

UPDATE: Tilley delayed a vote, saying members of the Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, needed more time to study a revised version of his bill, which would bar developers of NGL pipelines from using eminent domain. Industry representatives spoke against the bill; state Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, spoke for it. Gov. Steve Beshear issued a statement supporting it.
UPDATE, Feb. 26: The committee approved the bill. It now goes to the Rules Committee, which could send it to the floor or to another committee.

The project sent flyers to homes in the counties along the route saying that 6,000 to 7,000 temporary jobs will be created during construction and around 30 will remain as full-time employees to operate the pipeline.

“Communities along the Bluegrass Pipeline will see millions of dollars in tax revenues and other economic benefits as construction personnel and eventually full-time pipeline personnel spend money on supplies, food and lodging,” the flyer said.

Lorraine Garkovich of Versailles takes issue with these claims, saying the promised jobs will not be in Woodford County.

“Their own representatives say local hiring is limited because they have their own construction crews with pipeline experience,” Garkovich wrote in a letter to the Herald-Leader. She is a rural sociologist who teaches in the Department of Community and Leadership Development in the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Hollier said the pipeline would bring in approximately $620,000 a year in new property taxes in Woodford County, and the construction would take about a year. He noted that the company has also established a grant program that would benefit communities near the pipeline.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas liquids are “used as inputs for petrochemical plants, burned for space heat and cooking, and blended into vehicle fuel.” NGLs can be ethane, propane, butane, isobutane and pentane.

The pipeline would transfer the liquids from Pennsylvania to Louisiana, reversing the flow of a line that runs from Louisiana to Hardinsburg, Ky.

Unlike trucks or railcars, a pipeline wouldn’t be able to contain the liquids if there was a leak, McDonald said. Because of the karst topography in Kentucky, the pipeline could provide a constant flow of NGLs into underground caves and streams until the leak is detected, which could be hundreds of feet or potentially miles, he argued.

The pipeline's developers say it would be constructed with safety in mind and closely monitors. McDonald said the KCC questions whether the Kentucky environmental emergency response budget has enough funds to respond if a leak happens.


Leslie Bruner said...

Awesome article. Notice that the company is NOT putting money into communities' hazardous response teams. If we let these folks in, would be a HUGE pipeline pumping 400,000 barrels of FLAMMABLE and TOXIC chemicals, that have the ability to contaminate our drinking water. Water filtration systems cannot filter fracking chemicals. Watch GASLAND if you don't believe me. Adair Co. has a 60 foot crater from a pipeline explosion. Cherie Collins has skin grafts from a pipeline explosion in Montgomery County. My farm on the Dix River had gasoline flowing out of the spring. Be careful what you sign, folks. These people aren't from around here. They are shaking hands and kissing babies, and doling out grants, but they have VERY limited liability, and OUR RISK is forever.

Corlia Logsdon said...

Thank you for this insightful article. As the owner of Woodford County track 45, I am living in the cross hairs of this private, non-utility's attempt to use legalized theft to take the property that my husband and I have worked hard for all of our lives and hoped to leave to our daughter someday. To those who would be tempted by the so-called "grants" and tax dollars generated, I would simply say that if you support this project, it will be open season on families in Kentucky. This will set the dangerous precedent of allowing private companies that are NOT in public service the right to condemn your homes and your farms. Think of the world you are leaving your children, and call your legislators to let them know you oppose this.

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