Politics & Government

Landowners win eminent-domain case against defunct Bluegrass Pipeline proposal

Landowners who had opposed efforts to put a natural gas liquids pipeline across 13 Kentucky counties were victorious Thursday in the Kentucky Supreme Court.

The state’s highest court decided not to review a May 2015 ruling from the Kentucky Court of Appeals that said Bluegrass Pipeline LLC did not have the power of eminent domain because it was not a utility regulated by the state Public Service Commission.

Since the Supreme Court decided not to review the appeal, the appellate court’s decision stands, said Tom FitzGerald, attorney for Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain.

Many citizens opposed the project, saying the flammable liquids posed environmental and safety concerns. In 2014, the two companies proposing to build Bluegrass Pipeline halted the project and suspended investment because they said it had not received the necessary customer commitments to move forward.

FitzGerald said the high court’s decision could affect other businesses seeking easements for projects that are not utility projects.

He had argued that a natural gas liquids pipeline does not serve Kentucky customers in the way that natural gas does for home heating and cooking.

He said the decision means only regulated natural gas utilities, such as Atmos, LG&E and Columbia Gas and others regulated by the PSC, can invoke eminent domain.

Lexington attorney Gregory P. Parsons, representing Bluegrass Pipeline, was not immediately available for comment.

The Court of Appeals’ 3-0 decision had affirmed Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd’s ruling in 2014 that the pipeline company did not possess the ability to condemn property through eminent domain.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics