Eminent Domain bill aimed at proposed Bluegrass Pipeline goes to full House

02/26/2014 05:59 PM

A bill aimed at preventing landowners from having their land seized by eminent domain for the Bluegrass Pipeline project cleared committee on Wednesday.

House Bill 31, sponsored by Democratic Rep. John Tilley of Hopkinsville, would remove natural gas liquids pipelines from the list of utility-related projects that are permitted to acquire land through eminent domain.

The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee 11-0 with Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas and Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, passing. The vote was delayed a week after discussion spilled over the allotted time for last week’s meeting.

Tilley said the bill is needed to prohibit a private company from using eminent domain to obtain land for a project that is not for the benefit of the public.

“There is no Kentucky benefit and this is not a Kentucky company,” said Tilley.
“Even with the promise of jobs, there is no assurance of those.”

Many of the standing room only crowd voiced approval of the vote.

That included Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, who said the vote was a victory for landowners whose land is in the pathway of the proposed pipeline.

“There are a number of folks out there who have been requested to give easements for whom there is a cloud over their head as to whether the property will be taken from them through condemnation if they don’t willingly grant an easement,” FitzGerald said.

Andrew McNeill, executive director of the Kentucky Oil & Gas Association, said the bill could have significant and long term ramifications for the oil and gas industry in the state because natural gas liquids are currently produced and/or transported in the commonwealth.

“Over a three year period, over 15 million barrels of natural gas liquids have been produced and transported within the state,” said McNeill.

Tom Droege, spokesperson for the Bluegrass Pipeline, issued a statement saying the legislation is unnecessary.

“Kentucky already has over 12,000 miles of liquid fuels pipelines and singling out NGL pipelines that are regulated in the same manner by the federal government is unnecessary,” the statement said.


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