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balancing the scales, June 10, 2013

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Kentucky counties targeted for fracking gas product pipeline

As many as 18 Kentucky counties (see map) are cades ago – an unspoiled area the fiscal court that he assumes Natural gas liquids are usually extracted from within the possible path of a new pipeline that would where the well water then was the company will have and need the earth where there is natural gas produccarry natural gas liquids from the fracking fields of safe to drink. But now it is in the to use eminent domain to comtion. These hydrocarbon compounds include Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to the export terheart of areas where fracking is plete its route. methane, ethane, propane and butane. They minals of the Gulf Coast. used to extract the natural gas “They’ll have to [use eminent exist in a liquid state at underground pressures The 24-inch pipeline would enter Kentucky from and related products that will domain] if they expect to get and become gaseous in normal atmospheric Ohio about 30 miles east of Cincinnati and go in a be piped to the Gulf Coast – as through Kentucky,” said Magconditions. They would be transported as a southwesterly direction through central Kentucky bemuch as 400,000 barrels a day. istrate Jerry Hahn, who added liquid in a pressurized Bluegrass Pipeline to fore connecting with an existing pipeline in Hardins According to Rawlings, his that many of his Nelson Coun“fracination” plants where the individual prodburg in Breckinridge County. former neighbors report that: ty constituents don’t want the ucts are separated. NGL products are used as Company representatives already are acquiring pipeline on their land or in their Large energy companies raw materials by the petrochemical industry. the rights to survey land and possibly buying easecommunity. have forced their way across the ments in several counties, including Nelson, Franklin Geoghegan said some landhills and down into the valleys. Huge trucks roar along owners were offered a $50 gift card to allow the compaand Woodford, where landowners are beginning to orthe country lanes; strange drilling rigs rise out of the ny to survey their land. Allowing a survey may sound ganize to get elected officials to address their concerns. land; and large sums of money change hands. Some Nelson Countians took their concerns to harmless, he said, and is no guarantee of the final route The companies drive shafts deep into the earth, of the pipeline, but is likely something landowners will their local fiscal court on June 4. pumping in high-pressure chemicals that blast the subter- later regret. Mary Ann Chamberlain, whose family has been ranean rock layers apart. Then equipment at the surface Geoghegan was approached by the company and farming in Nelson County for eight generations, said gathers the stew of natural gas and contaminants that turned them away. He already has two crude oil pipeshe has concerns about the potential for contamination rises from deep underground. In the process, the earth lines across his farm – an existing one from the 1930s of water and soil and the danger of explosions. Others and water and air have become dangerously polluted. were concerned about the way landowners have been and a second put in a few years ago using the same One of the unknowns is whether the company will easement. treated by company representatives. have and use eminent domain to cross land where it’s However, it’s not known how many landowners “This affects a lot more people than those whose unable to buy a right-of-way. That depends on whether have signed leases. Some Nelson County residents at land it runs across,” Chamberlain said. the pipeline is only for private use or is classified as a the fiscal court meeting knew of neighbors who had ac Sister Claire McGowan said that what’s at stake is common carrier, accessible for use by other companies. cepted the company’s offer. In other pipeline cases, a “more than an individual property rights issue. It’s the As a common carrier, it would have eminent domain condition of the lease has been to not talk about it. wellbeing of the whole community.” powers granted to it by federal and state legislative The pipeline would be built by a partnership beAt this point, many think that the company’s stratbodies, according to Tom FitzGerald with the Kentucky egy is to secure as many leases as possible in as direct a tween the Oklahoma-based Williams company and Resources Council. Houston-based Boardroute as possible within the wide swath shown on the Nelson County Com- map. They would connect their leases by using emiwalk Pipeline Partners. monwealth’s Attorney nent domain. Both are large companies Terry Geoghegan told with thousands of miles of existing pipeline across the United States, including Kentucky. Chamberlain has researched the safety records, and what she has found about Williams leaves her frightened. “This is a very hazardous substance,” she reported to the fiscal court, Nelson County landowner Mary Ann Chamberlain adadding that the company dressed the Nelson Fiscal Court about her concerns “has a real history of viowith the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. The company is lations,” including exploexpected to attend the court’s June 18 meeting. sions, ruptures and leaks at their various operations. “This should be a red flag for us.” Anderson County KFTC member Roger Rawlings also reminded readers of his Lexington Herald-Leader op-ed that the impacts of the pipeline would go far beyond those whose land is crossed: We won’t know for some time whether the pipeline will actually come our way. Maybe it will bypass our KFTC and allies are gathering information about the property, as maybe it will bypass yours. But this only pipeline and its specific route. If you live in one of these means that other Kentuckians will be targeted instead counties and have been contacted by the company, – our neighbors and yours, either nearby neighbors or please let KFTC know. Contact Economic Justice Organeighbors a bit farther away. The consequences will be nizer Jessica Hays Lucas (859-276-0563 or jessicabreen@ much the same for every Kentuckian. kftc.org) or your county’s KFTC organizer. He also described what has happened in northern Pennsylvania, where he and his wife lived several deMap of the possible Bluegrass Pipeline route through Kentucky. Map provided by Williams.

June 2013 - balancing the scales  
June 2013 - balancing the scales  

This is the June 2013 edition of balancing the scales, the organizational newsletter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

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