Landowners divided over Bluegrass Pipeline

10/18/2013 09:01 AM

Landowners in the path of a proposed natural gas liquids pipeline are divided over the use of their land.

Surveyors for Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners have been setting up stakes across Kentucky fields and farmlands to make way for the natural gas liquids pipeline. However some residents fear for their safety and for their rights.

But not all are convinced that the pipeline would be a bad thing for them – and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The pipeline is transporting natural gas liquids from Pennsylvania to the Gulf of Mexico.

Don Weber reports on the people in the path of the pipeline.

Whatever landowners decide the issue might still see the right to take land play out in a Kentucky court room as lawyers wrangle over the use of eminent domain.

(Part two in the series on the Bluegrass Pipeline will focus on the issues of eminent domain and how the company is accessing land to survey for the pipeline’s path. Watch “Pure Politics” Friday night at 7 p.m. EST/6 Central on Time Warner Cable’s cn|2)

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics with Ryan Alessi airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.


  • name withheld wrote on October 18, 2013 04:27 PM :

    If the pipeline becomes reality, I would suggest that landowners RENT the land to the pipeline company instead of taking a “lump sum payment”. The rent should be adjusted for increases in inflation over the years. Should that tract of land with pipeline be sold in the future the new landowner will be getting rent for that land that the pipeline is on.

  • Leslie McBride wrote on October 19, 2013 07:01 AM :

    Pimping out the earth for personal profit with no respect for the land that gives us so much or for the quality of life of those who depend upon it is wrong. Period.

  • Sean Detisch wrote on October 19, 2013 07:56 AM :

    I don’t know to whom you’ve been speaking, Mr. Alessi, but every local governing body I am aware of has condemned the project, and I have not spoken to one person here in Pendleton County who is in favor of it. There IS nothing to favor: it’s a dangerous, flammable intrusion on private property with no public good attached. The agents therefore have no eminent domain rights, although they throw these words around to try and intimidate the farmers and other locals in their path. Had you done some research, you would have discovered that the only reason they suddenly want these dozens of pipelines is because they don’t want to pay the railroads and keep those folks employed. That’s the safer, more regulated way they’ve always transported their goods before. Goods, by the way, which are mainly meant for overseas markets (China), and will benefit us only if you think adding to the trade deficit helps us(when China uses the materials to produce more plastic junk to sell back to us).

  • Ann Logsdon wrote on October 19, 2013 08:18 AM :

    A few have decided to grant access, but far more are staunchly opposed to this pipeline, and United We Stand. The media should be fully investigating this issue, conducting in-depth research and reporting on the facts—which they are not doing. For that reason, I’ll provide the missing info. The following information is freely available on the Internet, so please do additional research:

    1. This private multi-billion dollar company (which is not a utility) is threatening to use eminent domain against hard-working, tax-paying citizens to take away their land rights.

    2. This company plans to export a large amount of these materials, which will NOT lead to energy independence and will keep prices higher for US citizens.

    3. The Wiliams Company, which will be building the pipeline, has an record of leaks, explosions, fines, and violations.

    4. This is not your grandpa’s natural gas. These are toxic, highly explosive NGLs, by-products of fracking. They are primarily used for plastics manufacturing—not fuel. Propane is one component that could be used for fuel. However, if the company wanted to serve the interests of this country, it would be providing propane to people near where it is being extracted rather than exporting it.

    5. The pipeline will not create jobs in the long run. It will cause job losses over time. There will be a temporary increase in construction jobs followed by a substantial loss of jobs in the river, rail, and trucking transport industries.

    Quick, do the math…How many pipeline builders do you know in your area? Now, how many truckers, railroad workers, and river barge workers do you know?

    6. They say pipelines are the safest way to transport these NGLs. Pipeline leaks and spills and drilling accidents happen every single day. When a pipeline breaks, a substantially higher amount of toxic fluids are released, contaminating soil and water that cannot be replaced. In some cases, there are catastrophic explosions. By contrast, if a train derails or a truck has an accident, the amount spilled is limited to the amount being carried by the vehicle. The bottom line is that neither method of transport could be considered “completely safe.”

    7. Every citizen in this country should be concerned about the precedent that would be set if a private company is allowed to use eminent domain against families. It is bad enough when the government does it. If private companies do it, our homes and land will never be truly ours. It would be like communism, but instead of the government controlling everything, it would be corporations.

    8. The company claims there will be millions of dollars pumped into our economy through taxes of the pipeline. First, let’s be clear. Because much of this pipeline already exists, we are already receiving tax money off these lines. The only NEW revenue will come from NEWLY CONSTRUCTED pipelines, which is not a lot. Further, the figure the company keeps putting out there represents the total amount of taxes over a ten-year period—not an annual amount, and remember that we’re already getting the majority of this anyway from existing lines.

    9. Now, about those existing lines…The company plans to “repurpose” existing natural gas lines. Think about that for a minute. When those lines were built, they were for public use and were allowed to use eminent domain to condemn families’ homes and land for that purpose because they were a utility, and the government used a process to determine the need for them. Follow me here….In order to “repurpose” those lines and take them out of public service, the company needs the government’s permission to do so. They have to show that there is no longer a public need. If there are more people living along those lines, how can anyone justify taking them out of public service? We know of at least one power plant in Indiana that has protested this “repurposing” because they use the current natural gas lines to generate electricity. If the lines are “repurposed,” their customers will lose service.

    10. What is wrong with repurposing?

    A. The existing lines are old. They’re 40-50 years old. They were engineered and built for natural gas, which is an entirely different product than the mix of NGLs that will go through them if they are “repurposed.”

    B. The word “repurposing” is misleading. It implies there would be some sort of process to convert the lines so they can accommodate the demands of high pressure NGLs. That is not the case.

    I asked a pipeline “expert” at an open house presented by the company exactly what repurposing entailed. He said they would run a “smart pig” down the line to identify any problems and that the lines would be pressure-tested before being placed into NGL service. I asked about the engineering of the pipes and the differences between the chemical properties of natural gas vs NGLs and how that might impact the lines themselves. I was quickly directed to another table. At the next table, I asked the same question. The gentleman there politely smiled and did not answer.

    C. The fact is, natural gas and NGLs are different substances. NGLs are a mixture of various fracking byproducts. We already know that older natural gas lines, many of which are iron, already leak, and they’re more likely to have corrosion. Independent engineers should be evaluating the safety of this so-called repurposing.

    D. The people who originally allowed the existing lines to go through their yards did so believing they would carry natural gas. They may or may not be told about the change, and they may have no power to stop this change from occurring, depending on the language of their easement agreement.

    11. The company claims it will use high safety standards, and yet it refuses to commit to building the new lines to the same or better standards that it was REQUIRED to use when crossing federal lands. Another problem is that they will be using pipe that is formed from sheets of steel bent into cylinders and welded down the length of the pipe rather than using molded pipe that had no seam along the length. The reason they’re doing this is that the welded pipe is cheaper. However, every weld in this pipeline presents a weakness that can and will be compromised. When asked what the company would do in the event of a leak, a representative stated that they would decide how to handle it. If it is a small leak (no definition of small leak) they would increase the pressure on the lines to maintain the stability of the line. Think about that for a minute. If your garden hose springs a leak, what happens if you turn the spigot to allow more water to go through the hose? You are still able to spray your garden, but the amount coming out the leak also increases. What will really happen here is that this company, which will be making about 1.5 million dollars a day off this line, will decide if it is more profitable to shut down the line to fix the leak, or let it go until they can’t ignore it anymore (e.g. there’s an environmental disaster discovered by the public or an explosion that can’t be hidden.)

    I could write a novel about this, but I think enough has been said to alert most folks to the real issues behind this. Our objections are not based on “fear” of the unknown, but rather “rational concern” about what is known about this project. If you want to learn more, please visit our website at There you will find information you will not find in the media.

  • Honest Parley wrote on October 19, 2013 10:27 AM :

    This headline and story are complete mischaracterizations bordering on irresponsible reporting of the situation on the ground regarding the Bluegrass Pipeline. Landowners are not divided – there is overwhelming solidarity among 99% of landowners on this issue. The extensiveness of Ms. Pribble’s “research” is laughable at best, bless her heart. CN2 PP needs to file this story in the “great big flub” file, because it represents some of the worst and most incomplete reporting Honest has seen in quite some. Fiscal Courts in almost every county along the proposed pipeline route have passed resolutions opposing the pipeline. The pipeline does nothing to reduce “dependence on foreign resources,” as the NGL’s transported by such pipelines are used in the production of plastics. What does it say on any plastic product you have? “Made in ….” You can fill in the blank. We’re certain it doesn’t say “Made in the USA.” Otherwise, why would they need the pipeline to reach the Gulf of Mexico at a time of Panama Canal expansion? Honest files this reporting in the bulging file labeled “Corporate Apologists.”

  • Joyce Hamilton wrote on October 19, 2013 02:20 PM :

    The Williams Company wants this pipeline to save shipping costs…pipeline versus track or rail, which increases profits. THAT is all its about for these people. Should a for-profit company be able to FORCE this upon landowners? NO…It is THEIR idea….it is THEIR problem….NOT the landowners problem.

  • Joyce Hamilton wrote on October 19, 2013 02:21 PM :

    The Williams Company wants this pipeline to save shipping costs…pipeline versus truck or rail, which increases profits. THAT is all its about for these people. Should a for-profit company be able to FORCE this upon landowners? NO…It is THEIR idea….it is THEIR problem….NOT the landowners problem.

  • John Mattingly wrote on October 22, 2013 07:44 AM :

    Imagine a spill in Nelson County and the water contaminated there? What would happen to all of the Bourbon distilleries then? Or a spill anywhere, what would happen to the water quality for the farmers and residents?
    This company has a bad record of spills and when a company starts out lying to land owners(eminent domain) that tells me all I need to know about that company. They are shady. There is a major reason many county governments along the proposed pipeline route have passed resolutions opposing the pipeline! I thought CN2 was a little better reporting.

  • garnett sweeney wrote on January 30, 2014 05:25 PM :

    It should be pointed out that the Bluegrass pipeline is a joint venture which is incorporated as a LLC. In my mind this means that the very deep pockets of the owners of the LLc. would not be liable for damages from accidents involving the pipeline whose assets will be very inadequate for correcting a major spill,etc. Won
    der whose problem it will be?

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