This month’s Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment was a high-profile one with an overflowing committee room. The topic was discussion of the Bluegrass Pipeline with representatives from the company itself, the Kentucky Oil & Gas Association, state agencies, and the Kentucky Resources Council which represents landowners. The pipeline project will carry natural gas liquids from the northwest part of Kentucky through the central south portion on its way toward the Gulf of Mexico. It promises new investment with new dollars but there are significant private property concerns.
The Bluegrass Pipeline is a joint project by Williams, an energy infrastructure company, and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners. Representatives discussed the importance of the pipeline for jobs and energy independence and stressed their safety record and rigorous safety standards. They estimated that Kentucky schools would benefit from $136 million in new tax revenue over the first 10 years. They said they were committed to work with landowners and be respectful of property rights. The pipeline would be buried underground. The company will be hosting a series of town-hall meetings throughout the state to make sure information is relayed to communities.
The Public Service Commission discussed the limits of their power to oversee natural gas liquids. They stated that it would take legislative action in the form of the new statute for them to have the power to regulate the pipeline.
Tom Fitzgerald of the Kentucky Resources Council, an environmental group, warned against the dangers of the pipeline questioning the routing as well as oversight of the project.
Finally, Secretary of Energy Len Peters spoke to the committee. He bluntly explained that the lawyers in his cabinet do not think that Bluegrass pipeline developers can invoke imminent domain which is the concept that organizations, usually public utilities but in this case a private company, can use land for an express public purpose.
During the last few days of special session on redistricting, the Senate passed a resolution urging the pipeline companies to make every effort to work with landowners without using eminent domain. As chairman of this meeting, I wanted to make sure all sides had a platform to present their perspectives. I feel that the meeting was successful and laid the groundwork for future discussions prior to session.
This was a great informational meeting which I see as one more way we can educate our constituents about this important issue that will surely also play a large role in the 2014 Session. Please call me with any questions, comments, or concerns at 502-564-8100 or toll-free at 800-372-7181. If you miss watching the proceedings on KET, meetings are archived at www.ket.org.
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Note: Senator Jared Carpenter (R-Berea) is the Chairman of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee and Vice-Chair of both the Banking and Insurance Committee and the Special Subcommittee on Energy. He also serves on the Education Committee. He represents the 34th District including Lincoln, Madison, and Rockcastle counties. For a high-resolution .jpeg of Senator Carpenter, please log onto http://www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/senate38.htm