Woodford County Fiscal Court votes to oppose natural gas liquids pipeline

kward1@herald-leader.comAugust 27, 2013 

— The Woodford County Fiscal Court joined a growing list of county governments adopting resolutions regarding the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline, unanimously approving a resolution opposing the project.

The planned pipeline would transport flammable natural gas liquids from drilling zones in Pennsylvania through West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.

The exact route has not been determined, but it would enter Kentucky in Bracken County and run to Breckinridge County, where it would connect to an existing pipeline that runs to the Gulf Coast.

The Woodford fiscal court said in its unanimously approved resolution that it "fully, adamantly and without reservation opposes the construction of the Bluegrass Pipeline Project in any part of Woodford County."

The resolution stated that a rupture in the pipeline "could have catastrophic consequences to our citizens' health, safety and welfare and to the environment."

The resolution also said water supplies could be contaminated by the pipeline and that there is not enough regulatory oversight for the project.

The fiscal courts in Franklin, Anderson, Marion, Scott, Pendleton, Shelby and Washington counties also have adopted resolutions related to the pipeline, according to Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, which advocates for environmental stewardship.

Not all the resolutions voice strong opposition to the project.

This month, the Franklin County Fiscal Court passed a measure that puts a one-year moratorium on new applications for road crossings for pipelines that carry hazardous materials.

Woodford County Attorney Alan George told the fiscal court that such a moratorium would need more study in Woodford County.

"Someone might be able to claim that was an unlawful taking of a property right," he said. "A moratorium is really only appropriate when it's an absolute emergency."

George said members of the state association of county attorneys discussed the pipeline at their annual meeting last week, and the attorneys in affected counties are sharing information about governmental handling of the issue.

A handful of residents attended Tuesday night's meeting. Deb Pekny said the pipeline as proposed would cross the Kentucky River a half-mile from her house. "We don't want it at all," she said.

"The resolution is the first step. ... We're very happy that they did this," Pekny said.

A state legislative committee, the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment, will hear information about the pipeline at its meeting at 1 p.m. Sept. 5 in the Capitol Annex. "It's more or less to get information," said State Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, who co-chairs the committee.

Two companies, Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, are partnering on the pipeline project.

Natural gas used to generate electricity or to heat homes is mostly methane, but natural gas at the well site might include other hydrocarbons, including ethane, propane, butane, isobutene and pentanes. Those hydrocarbons are called natural gas liquids, or NGLs.

Each has unique properties that make it suited to a specific use. Butane is used in cigarette lighters, and propane is used in backyard grills and home heating systems.

Petrochemical plants are the largest consumers of these NGLs, particularly ethane, which is used to make plastics.

Processing plants remove NGLs so they can be used separately. The NGLs are transported by pipeline under pressure in a liquid state. They might also be transported by truck or rail.

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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