Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pipeline plan is halted, but area landowners remain wary

By Kayla Pickrell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The halting of a proposed natural-gas-liquids pipeline that would stretch across Kentucky and through part of greater Midway left some landowners relieved but wary.

“The general feeling is that everyone is cautiously optimistic,” said Corlia Logsdon, creator of www.StopBluegrassPipeline.us. “We do feel that the announcement is good news for those of us who were concerned about our families, neighbors and our homes.”

The Bluegrass Pipeline, planned to run from West Virginia to the Gulf Coast, posted a statement from representatives Bill Lawson and Michael McMahon saying that the project is on indefinite hold. The reason given was because the customer base for natural gas liquids on the coast was not large enough to build on the planned route. “Bluegrass Pipeline appears to be a project that’s ahead of its time,” they said.

Part of a Q and A on the pipeline website said, “While we are not investing additional capital in this project at this time, we continue to seek customers for this project and still believe the Bluegrass Pipeline project is the best long-term solution in the marketplace for moving this resource to market.”

If Bluegrass Pipeline does not exercise its options for easements within the three-year term of the option, the easement will expire.

In late March, a Kentucky judge ruled that natural-gas-liquid pipelines cannot use eminent domain to obtain land rights from Kentucky landowners. The Q and A said that ruling, which is being appealed, did not affect the decision.

Opponents rallied against the pipeline, while supporters stood strong for the benefits it would grant them and their communities. Those who granted easements to the company were given non-refundable money and will not be asked to return it, the pipeline representatives said.

The pipeline has closed its local offices, but Lawson and McMahon said they want to maintain a close connection with Kentucky communities: “We value the relationships we have built and plan to stay connected to the communities, providing updates on the project as needed and keeping an open door for continued dialogue.”

Logsdon and those in her organization, Stop the Bluegrass Pipeline, do not believe the war is over.
“We will be safe for a little longer,” she said. “However, we also believe very strongly that this project could be revived in the future and that we cannot stop working to get safeguards in place to protect Kentuckians' property rights from corporate abuse of eminent domain by companies that are not in public service.

“Clearly, we have much work to do, and I am confident our group will continue working to protect our natural resources that we all depend on for life and livelihood.”

The pipeline representatives wrote, “We spent more than a year listening and talking with communities all along the route. We learned much about each and every community we interacted with.  That is why we know that this project while ahead of its time is needed to advance the manufacturing revolution in this country, which is creating thousands of jobs and advancing energy independence.”

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