Friday, February 12, 2016

Ky. Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal of rulings denying condemnation power to Bluegrass Pipeline

The legal battle over the Bluegrass Pipeline, led by Midway-area landowners, is over, and they have won. For now.

The Kentucky Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a Court of Appeals decision that upheld Franklin Circuit Judge Phllip Shepherd's ruling that said only utilities regulated by the Public Service Commission can use eminent domain, or condemnation, to get easements for pipelines.

University of Louisville law professor Tony Arnold, a land-use and environmental law expert, told James Bruggers of The Courier-Journal that the decision was "significant for both for opponents of the Bluegrass Pipeline and for all Kentucky residents who want to ensure that the exercise of eminent domain for energy development and transmission is held accountable to the public interest."

However, the ruling goes only so far, Arnold said: "National companies seeking to move oil or gas through Kentucky and to use eminent domain to acquire easements for their preferred routes may try to get around (this) limited ruling by partnering with public utilities that are regulated by the Public Service Commission or with state agencies. They would have to provide some sort of benefit or service to Kentucky residents, such as providing some of the oil and gas to Kentuckians. Don't underestimate the tenacity of energy companies to find a way to get what they want."

The Williams Companies put the Bluegrass Pipeline on indefinite hold in April 2014, saying it did not have enough customers for the natural-gas liquids it planned to move to the Gulf coast from oil and gas fields in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Tom FitzGerald of Louisville, attorney for Kentuckians United To Restrain Eminent Domain, told Bruggers, "I couldn't have had better clients." (Read more)

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