The Bluegrass Pipeline team has begun negotiating easements with landowners. This is a critical step in finalizing the route for this important piece of American energy infrastructure. Bluegrass Pipeline sent a letter to the affected landowners that addressed a number of issues including the important landowner question, "how does this benefit me?"
Over the last several months Bluegrass has increased communication to landowners, so they understand the facts regarding this pipeline. As the route begins to take its final form, not all of the landowners we contacted for survey permission are being contacted for easements.
In the three weeks we have been negotiating with landowners, we have secured easements in nine of the 13 counties we plan to cross in Kentucky. As we continue this process, Bluegrass Pipeline expects to pay between $30 million and $50 million for easements. This influx of cash combined with the new county tax revenues generated by the pipeline begins to show some of the positive economic impact of this project.
We are committed to dealing fairly and professionally with landowners for any pipeline easements. Specifically, Bluegrass Pipeline bases our offers on the following criteria:
■ A fair price, based upon local land values and number of acres needed, for the privilege of establishing a permanent easement across a landowner's property. We obtain a permanent easement, which is the right to use the land, but the landowner retains ownership.
■ Additional compensation for temporary easements needed during initial construction.
■ Additional compensation for disturbance to crops, grazing lands, timber, etc. directly impacted by the installation of the pipeline.
The typical easement has a permanent width of 50 feet and an additional 50 feet of temporary workspace to be used only during the installation of the pipeline. It's important to note that the easement only grants us the right to use the land as right of way for the pipeline. The landowner retains ownership subject to the right of way and may continue to use it for farming, grazing and any other use that does not result in a structure or large trees on the easement.
We work with each landowner to establish specific conditions and requirements covering such aspects as land use, equipment, access and depth of cover. We have been building and operating pipelines for many years and we have easement agreements with tens of thousands of landowners. We are committed to taking the time necessary to negotiate an easement that is suitable for each landowner.
Technical aspects related to pipeline construction and operations — for example, operating pressure and inspection protocols — are not negotiable as they relate to the safe and compliant operation and maintenance of the pipeline as required by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The pipeline will meet or exceed all federal regulatory and safety standards. Bluegrass Pipeline will also follow the requirements of such Kentucky regulatory agencies as the Department of Environmental Protection, the Heritage Council and Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, rather than addressing these types of issues in each easement.
We understand this land belongs to someone else and we are being granted the privilege to work on it. We pledge to be respectful guests and good stewards of the resources. The Bluegrass Pipeline joint venture partners have experience operating 1,400 miles of existing pipeline in Kentucky and approximately 40,000 miles of pipeline across America. We understand the concerns that have been expressed regarding the need for the project, environmental protection and pipeline safety. We will ensure that the construction and operation of the pipeline will meet or exceed all legal and regulatory requirements.
The Bluegrass Pipeline will ensure Kentucky is a key participant in providing affordable, abundant and accessible energy to American manufacturers. The Bluegrass Pipeline will be transporting important natural resources to support the resurgence of the petrochemical industry here in the United States. Once the project is in service, the natural gas liquids in the Bluegrass Pipeline could be tapped by Kentucky businesses to meet the needs of the commonwealth as they develop.
Thank you for being part of this great opportunity.
At issue: Oct. 16 column by Terry Geoghegan and Tom FitzGerald, "Read this before signing easement," and Oct. 17 Associated Press article, "Pipeline has secured land deals in nine Kentucky counties. "
Rob Hawksworth is manager for land, GIS and permitting at Williams Co., which has partnered with Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP, to develop the Bluegrass Pipeline.