Proposed Bluegrass Pipeline route will avoid nuns' land, company vows

This sign is in front of the Sisters of Loretto Mother House in Nerinx.
This sign is in front of the Sisters of Loretto Mother House in Nerinx. Herald-Leader

LOUISVILLE — A spokesman for a company building a pipeline through Kentucky says the proposed route would avoid land owned by a group of Roman Catholic nuns who have been outspoken opponents of the underground line.

However, a spokesman for the Sisters of Loretto said that the nuns would continue to protest the pipeline and ask questions about its benefit to the communities in which it would be built.

The Sisters of Loretto had refused to let pipeline surveyors enter their 780-acre property in Marion County and had led community opposition to the pipeline, urging their neighbors to know their rights when dealing with the pipeline's developers. The new 500-mile pipeline, being built by Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners of Houston, would join an existing transmission line in Breckinridge County that runs to the Gulf of Mexico.

Williams Co. spokesman Tom Droege said Wednesday that the proposed route "is becoming more defined" and would "stay well to the north of Marion County."

Peg Jacobs, a co-member at the Loretto Motherhouse, says the sisters would continue to oppose the pipeline, wherever it goes. The sisters, along with landowners and environmentalists, have demonstrated against the proposed pipeline, saying it presents a chemical leak risk.

Sister Maria Visse said that while the nuns are pleased that the pipeline won't disturb their land, their concerns continue.

"We have said all along, this isn't just about us," she said. "People have become more aware of how much of our natural resources are used for corporate profit. ... Pandora's Box has opened, and we want to know more about the balance of use of resources and the balance of corporate gain versus a probable miniscule gain in local resources."

The nuns became international Internet sensations following several online reports about their opposition to the Bluegrass Pipeline. They appeared, praying and singing, on websites including Mother Jones magazine and Slate. Mother Jones called them "a feisty cadre of nuns," while Slate headlined its item "Anti-fracking nuns" and hailed "the unlikely activism of sisters who have lived on remote land for 200 years."

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