Monday, December 30, 2013

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners Stock Rating Lowered by Zacks

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners (NYSE:BWP) was downgraded by Zacks from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a research report issued on Monday, Stock Ratings News reports. They currently have a $24.70 price objective on the stock. Zacks‘ price objective points to a potential downside of 4.93% from the stock’s previous close.  Read more....

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruling Stokes Oil & Gas Industry Uncertainty

To this we say, "It's about time!"  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a foundational provision of the state’s most comprehensive oil and gas legislation has put a rather large question mark over just how the new regulatory framework could hinder future Marcellus Shale development, leaving the industry scrambling for answers.  The decision brings a measure of sanity to the previously unrestrained invasion by the fracking industry against homeowners. 

Predictably,  some politicians are disappointed by the ruling, saying it destroys job opportunities.  We wonder why politicians favor fracking over investing in green energy alternatives, which would also spur job creation.  Read more.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Still Believe Beshear Hasn't Decided Whether or not the Pipeline is Good for Kentucky?

Signaling concern that sweeping federal regulations could cripple companies using hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas from shale in their states, governors from 12 energy states signed an open letter to energy regulators and policymakers in D.C. last week, urging them to “leave regulation in the capable hands of the states.”  Guess who is right in the middle of them?  I, for one, would love to see our governor's investment portfolio exposed.  Read more.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Message to Pipeline Supporting Unions in Kentucky

I was surprised to learn that a number of people saying they are from construction workers' unions in Kentucky have been showing up at public meetings to support the proposed Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline.  (For the sake of argument, I am going to assume they are actual union members and not paid plants sent to sway government officials' opinions.)

I understand unions.  My father was a steel worker and a strong union member for all of his working life, as were many people in my family.  My husband is a union member.  I know what it is like to struggle and fight and worry about where your next meal is coming from while the union is your only hope.  Unions exist to support workers' rights, lobby for better compensation, working conditions, benefits, safety, and other issues.  Yes, lobbying for jobs is important too.  I respect unions for what they do for working people.

That said, it is important for EVERY union member to recognize that they do what they do for their own personal benefit, the benefit of their families, and even the communities where they live by extension.  After all, many unions are powerful because of the mutual support they receive from their extended families and communities who support their efforts.  I personally, will never cross a picket line.  As a teenager, when the cashiers at an area racetrack went on strike, I turned my car around and left rather than supporting the track.  A few months ago, when employees of a major retailer went on strike, I contributed to their cause, promoted their petitions, and stopped shopping there.  Now many Kentuckians have formed a picket line of sorts against the pipeline.  We are officially on strike.  Why?

Because we believe that no private company should be able to run rough-shod over home and land owners, claiming they have eminent domain, using this to coerce them into signing away their land rights.  Eminent domain should only be used by the government for a public purpose when there is a clear need and benefit to the public.  Even then, it should be thoroughly studied, the public should have input in the decision, and it should be a last resort and rarely used. Period.

This is a concept that every real union member should understand and support.  We are striking to protect our home and land values and usage rights.  We are turning down the money because we know that it is in our interest and the entire state's interest that our land and water be protected.  We're doing this for our families and yours.  We're doing it for farmers, the bourbon industry, and the millions of people down river whose water sources must be protected.

Some of the union workers at meetings appear to believe that the pipeline will bring jobs to Kentucky.  However, you need to fully understand that:
  • Any jobs will be temporary only.
  • There has been no binding commitment that Kentuckians will be hired for these positions.  Jobs will most likely be contracted out to the lowest bidders, which may or not be Kentucky companies.  That's just the way business works.  Do you think it is more likely that the Williams Company - - which exists to build pipelines - - already has arrangements with the construction companies it plans to use? After all, how many Kentucky companies have the existing equipment and workers experienced in the construction of this type of pipeline?
  • If you Kentucky union members don't already have an iron-clad, fully executed contract in hand promising you these jobs you may be wasting your time and hurting your support network.  Are you being used as political props?
  • Once the pipeline is in the ground and operational, there will be a LOSS of jobs in the trucking and rail industries.  There will be a missed opportunity for the creation of substantial numbers of jobs in trucking and rail.  Aren't the truckers and railway workers your union brothers and sisters as well?

By supporting the pipeline, union members are crossing our picket lines.  On behalf of all of us, and there are thousands of us, I am asking you to reconsider your stance.  Please do not cross our picket line because we have supported you in the past and will continue to support you in the future if you respect our line.  We know you wouldn't want to be labeled with that ugly "s" word reserved especially for those who cross the picket line.

Faith confronts the threat of pipeline eminent domain

Whatever Steve Beshear's for inaction, the governor has a responsibility and a duty to protect the rights of Kentucky’s citizens. He should follow the lead of State Sen. Jimmy Higdon and State Rep. David Floyd, who have pre-filed legislation to prevent the use of eminent domain for the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. “If you’re a pipeline and you don’t have an oversight by the Public Service Commission, then you don’t qualify for eminent domain. You can’t have it both ways,” said Higdon.  Read more.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Disturbing Trend: Vilifying the Victims of Fracking; Defenders of Vital Water Resources

It seems that every day, I read an article in a high profile publication, hear a story on the news, or find an article on the web in support of pipelines and fracking that goes too far.  While I support their right to share actual facts and information, they go too far when they attempt to vilify the opposition.  This is dangerous for two reasons:
1.  It distracts attention from the real issues, which are public safety, protection of vital water resources, environmental impact such as earthquakes, emissions, and home and land owner rights.  

2.  It is a dangerous misinformation tactic used to sway public opinion against citizens who are standing up for everyone's Constitutional rights.

Most recently, pipeline and fracking supporters have referred to the opposition as ignorant and stupid because we disagree with them.  They say we're extremists because we share information with others about the numerous leaks, explosions, and violations associated with pipelines and fracking.  They say we are unpatriotic because we are not supporting their corporate agendas.  Possibly the most disturbing article I read concerned a first-responder training exercise in Ohio where the agencies involved were responding to extremist terrorists against fracking.

The emergency management agency has issued an apology.  Not only is it too little too late, it is irresponsible and smacks of inappropriate corporate influence over a government agency.  The public deserves to know that many opposed to fracking and pipelines:

1.  Are, in fact, first responders who are concerned about their own safety in the event of responding to a leak or explosion.  They are also concerned about the safety of their family, friends, and neighbors in such events;

2.  Are community members and families of first responders who worry about their courageous loved ones who place their lives on the line to protect others;

3.  Are young families with children who worry about the impact of fumes and water contamination.

4.  Are farmers whose families have worked and cared for their land for generations who worry about the impact of soil compaction, damage to draining tiles, contamination of water and soil, and the fact that they will be competing against powerful, well-funded companies for valuable water supplies to feed their livestock and water their crops;

5.  Are veterans who have fought for this country and are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States;

6.  Are environmentalists who understand that clean water, soil, and air vital for human life;

7.  Are scientists who understand the data that shows fracking damage is irreversible and that safer, responsible alternatives exist;

8.  Are senior citizens worried about the legacy they want to leave to their children;

9.  Are religious persons who see protecting the land as a mandate of their faith; 

10.  Are law-abiding, tax-paying, voting citizens; and

11.  Are your family members, friends, neighbors, and members of your communities and states who believe in the American Dream.

12.  Are just people seeking answers.  

We want to know why the mainstream media allows this vilification to continue.  Why are the journalists not keeping the focus on the issues and facts rather than allowing the bullying to continue?  What happened to investigative journalism?

Those who would label us terrorists are deliberately misleading the public and engaging in behavior that looks a whole lot like military psychological operations.  

According to Wikipedia, such tactics are used on people to gain sympathy for the a particular initiative.  The site defines psychological operations as "planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals."   

I cannot emphasize more strongly that we are not terrorists.  The Merriam Webster website defines terrorism as the "systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective...Terror also has been employed by governments against their own people to suppress dissent."

We are not the ones contaminating water and soil, attempting to abuse eminent domain laws for corporate interests, denying science, violating safety regulations, engaging in activities that cause explosions and leaks of toxic materials, death, and injury, or using power and money to influence the government.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fundraiser and Silent Auction Today!

Ready to Join Us? Learn How to Help

If you've been following our website and wondering how you can help or become more involved, there are several ways you can help:

1.  Join Kentuckians United for the Restriction of Eminent Domain - KURE.  This organization was recently filed suit in Franklin County to get a ruling on the eminent domain issue.  Membership is open and free.

2.  Send us your comments via the comment box at the right hand side of every page on this website.

3.  Educate others on the realities of this proposed pipeline.  The most important things to share are:
  • This is NOT natural gas and will NOT provide services to anyone in Kentucky.
  • The hazardous liquids that would be transported are toxic and highly explosive.
  • Leaks will contaminate water supplies and could release colorless, odorless gas.
  • The company does NOT have the right of eminent domain.
  • This pipeline would PREVENT the creation of hundreds of new, long-term jobs in the trucking and rail industries.  It will only create a small number of temporary construction jobs that may or may not go to Kentuckians.
  • If this company should somehow gain the right of eminent domain, a precedent will be set for any private company to take away anyone's property rights.  We cannot allow this to happen.
  • Property values will plummet.
4.  If you would like to contribute to support our cause, please feel free to donate to the Kentucky Resources Council.  There is a link at the top, right-hand side of pages on this website that you can use to reach the KRC website.  KRC, and a group of dedicated attorneys, are providing representation for the KURE lawsuit at no cost to KURE.  If we achieve our goal of preventing non-utilities from using eminent domain, every Kentuckian who owns a home or farm (or ever hopes to own a home or farm) will benefit.

5.  Contact your legislators and let them know where you stand on this issue.  Let them know that your rights as a citizen are not to be given away to private companies.

Bravo! Shares of Boardwalk Pipeline Partners Fall to a New 52-Week Low & Other News

"Do you hear that sound?  Listen closely to that skittering about.  It sounds just like rodents scurrying away......" - A comment possibly overheard on the Titanic.

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners (NYSE:BWP) traded at a new 52-week low today of $24.07. Approximately 229,000 shares have changed hands today, as compared to an average 30-day volume of 677,000 shares.  Read more...

 The Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline has also extended its "open season" supposedly because of requests by "interested shippers who would like additional time to evaluate the pipeline project and the project's market outlet options." While it is possible this is true, one wonders if the real reason might be to allow the BG folks more time to try to drum up customers who might be doubtful the project will be completed.

We hear from Nelson County that the pipeline representatives have stopped publicly listing prices paid for easements to "protect land owners' privacy."  It seems more likely that this practice benefits the company because landowners are kept in the dark about what others are receiving.  This would explain the large disparity we are seeing in payments across the route.  Further, we question whether this is legal.  

Our sources in New York indicate that many people there are NOT being paid, despite having signed easement agreements.  So, for those of you who are agreeing to these so called "signing bonuses" and off the record exchanges of cash, if you didn't get the cash before you signed, you may not get the money.

Interesting consensus claim from a recent NGL forum in San Antonio:
".....Williams Cos. Inc. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP proposed the 200-Mbbl/d Bluegrass pipeline running from the Marcellus and Utica plays to the Gulf Coast, while a competing proposal from Kinder Morgan was made for a pipeline of the same size. Both lines would likely transport propane and some butanes to the Gulf Coast, as ethane economics would not justify additional shipments.

....The consensus at the forum was that only one of the two pipelines would likely be built...."

Meanwhile, in other news, the Williams Company whose chemical plant in Geismar was the site of an explosion in June that killed two people has been fined $99,000. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday it cited William Olefins for six safety violations, including one “willful violation.”   The company's representatives have repeatedly stated that "safety is a top priority" in their public appearances and in their slick mailers.  Actions do speak much louder than words.  If the company's history is a reflection of its culture, then little appears to have changed in recent years.

It is encouraging to see a small measure of justice in this case, but $99,000.00 is small change for this multi-billion dollar company.  One can only hope that OSHA's findings will bolster damages awarded to  families of those killed and injured in the Geismar explosion.  Money can never replace their loved ones or restore quality of life to those injured, but hopefully it can discourage future "willful violations" by the company in the future.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Bluegrass Region Recognized by World Monuments Fund

What, exactly is at stake in the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline's short-sighted proposal?  The Bluegrass region is unique in its geographic features, geology, and commitment to agriculture and has been recognized by the New York based World Monuments Fund.

Covering an area of some 3,000 square kilometers, the Bluegrass Region is one of America’s most distinctive landscapes. Named for the color of its calcium- and phosphate-enriched grass, the region was settled by Europeans in the 1780s. By the mid-nineteenth century, agrarian-based industries such as tobacco farming and bourbon distillation sprang up there, along with breeding and racing of prized horses.  Read more.

Williams Olefins fined $99,000 by OSHA for Geismar plant explosion

December 12, 2013 - The Williams Company whose chemical plant in Geismar was the site of an explosion in June that killed two people has been fined $99,000.  The Williams Company is also a partner in building the proposed Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday it cited William Olefins for six safety violations, including one “willful violation.”

OSHA’s Baton Rouge Director Dorinda Folse said the company failed in its responsibility to “find and fix” safety violations and ensure the safety of its workers. “Failure to do so cost two workers their lives,” she said.

Killed in the explosion were 29-year-old Zachary C. Green of Hammond and 47-year-old Scott Thrower of St. Amant. Another 114 people were injured, though the OSHA press release says the number was 80. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Deadly Repurposing - Bluegrass, Atex, and other Hazardous Liquids Pipelines

This must-read article, "Legacy pipelines, what to do about aging and abandoned energy infrastructure," from the American Planning Association's magazine "Planning," tells how injuries, deaths and property damage from aging oil and gas infrastructure have increased dramatically in recent years. It also talks about how state, regional and local planners can implement measures to minimize the risks that oil and gas pipelines potentially pose to communities.

"....According to PHMSA (U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration), 2.4 million barrels — equal to 100.8 million gallons — of hazardous materials spilled from a combination of oil and gas pipelines between 1993 and 2012. The result: 367 fatalities, 1,465 injuries, and $6.4 billion in property damage throughout the U.S. Environmental damage can include ecologically sensitive areas, waterways, drinking water sources, endangered species, and air quality...." 

This shale-gas boom we are witnessing is giving rise to the practice of "repurposing" existing natural gas pipelines to carry hazardous liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in Pennsylvania, WV and Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico.  In fact, I am aware of 3 projects on the drawing board right now that would go through Kentucky, including the Bluegrass Pipeline.  Many of these repurposed lines were commissioned in the 1950's.

The ATEX Express Pipeline, which skirts around Kentucky, is being filled with hazardous liquids as we speak -- it involved both new pipeline construction and the repurposing of existing lines.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Safety history of Bluegrass Pipeline companies at issue in Kentucky debate

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Critics of the contentious Bluegrass Pipeline point to the safety record of the project's developers, claiming a history of leaks, spills and even explosions at their facilities raise concerns about plans to route a natural gas liquids pipeline through Kentucky.  Read more.

Kentuckian Mary Drake Debunks Bluegrass (Hazardous Liquids) Pipeline Propaganda

In a recent Point of View aired on WDRB, Bill Lawson of the Williams company spoke in favor of the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline, mentioning that Kentucky already has 12,000 miles of pipeline. He fails to mention that only 38 miles carry the hazardous liquids that the Williams company wants to move through Kentucky. A 2004 explosion in this 38-mile pipeline in Floyd County resulted in five homes being destroyed, 30 people being injured and evacuation within a mile radius because of a malfunctioning valve and corrosion in the four-inch pipeline. The Bluegrass Pipeline would be 24 inches wide.  Watch her fact filled commentary on WDRB's website.

Eminent Domain Use for Hazardous Liquids Pipeline Challenged

FRANKFORT, KY -  The claim by developers of a proposed hazardous liquids pipeline that they have the power of eminent domain was challenged Thursday, December 5, 2013 in Franklin County Circuit Court.

The action was taken by Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain (KURE), a new nonprofit organization formed “to protect Kentuckians from the threat of and attempts to exercise eminent domain by entities not in public service to Kentuckians.”

“The purpose of the lawsuit is to clarify as to whether a private company has the right to condemn land, to force someone to sell them an easement if they don’t want to,” said Penny Greathouse, a Franklin County landowner and founding KURE board member.

"Kentucky families' and farmers' homes and land represent the most important investment in their lives and are the legacy we want to leave to our children,” said Corlia Logsdon, a Woodford County landowner who also has been approached by pipeline developers. “Citizens deserve protection from the threat of condemnation from private companies that are not in service to Kentuckians."

Although pipeline developers have not yet tried to condemn any property, landowners say their claim that they have the power under Kentucky law puts unwarranted pressure on them to sell easements.

“I don’t want to be put in a position where I have to make a decision because I’m afraid they are going to take my land,” explained Greathouse, who has a 700-acre cattle farm. “I want to be able to deal with them without that hanging over my head.

“They first called us in April and they said it was a natural gas pipeline. When we found out about the natural gas liquids, we rescinded permission to survey,” Greathouse added. “They still have come back and talked to us four or five times.

“They guy who talked to me said they did have eminent domain. All the public meetings we’ve been to that Bluegrass Pipeline has been involved with, they definitely said they have eminent domain power,” she continued. “We went door to door to talk to our neighbors, and people said they believe the company has eminent domain and can come anyway. It’s almost like a bullying tactic.”

Several lawyers familiar with eminent domain laws in Kentucky, including Attorney General Jack Conway, believe the proposed pipeline project does not qualify for eminent domain authority under Kentucky law. But there has been no definitive ruling by Kentucky courts to clarify state statutes.

The lawsuit asks the court to make such a ruling.

Specifically, the plaintiffs ask the court to, “Determine and declare that Bluegrass Pipeline LLC does not possess any power or authority under the laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to utilize eminent domain in support of the proposed Bluegrass NGL Pipeline project …”

“Declaratory relief is appropriate in this case … since the requested declaration of rights will terminate the uncertainty and controversy that exists in this situation,” the lawsuit states. “[A] declaration of rights would afford ‘relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to rights, duties and relations’ as between KURE and its members, and Bluegrass Pipeline Company LLC.”

“Many Kentuckians report they are being misled and feel threatened. Some have sold easements at less than what they are worth because of this,” said Logsdon, also a founding KURE board member. “Kentuckians need and deserve protection now because we are facing threats now."

KURE argues that the hazardous liquids pipeline does not qualify for eminent domain because it “is not a public utility regulated by the Kentucky Public Service Commission pursuant to KRS Chapter 278, and thus is not ‘in public service,’” as required in state law.

Additionally, the project would not meet the “public use” and “public consumption” requirements defined in state law.

“The Bluegrass Pipeline project will not be receiving, transporting, or delivering oil or natural gas ‘for public consumption’ as that term is used in the statute, since the transportation of the natural gas liquids is for a limited customer base to which the natural gas liquids will be delivered or sold after being processed by the joint venture in Louisiana, and because the unfractionated natural gas liquids would be transported through the Commonwealth and are not intended to serve or be used by Kentucky consumers,” according to the court filing.

“There is no source of authority under Kentucky law granting eminent domain authority to the Bluegrass Pipeline Company LLC for the proposed Bluegrass NGL Pipeline project.”

KURE is represented by Tom FitzGerald with the Kentucky Resources Council.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Check Out WDRB's Investigation on the Bluegrass Pipeline

Louisville area readers won't want to miss WDRB's investigation on the proposed Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline this Wednesday.  Hopefully, they will also post it on their website for the rest of us.  If so, we'll let you know.

Martin Sheen Exposé on Fracking to Air on Public TV

This week, Martin Sheen’s Breakthroughs program released an expose on fracking featuring Environment America to public television stations across the country. As the debate over dirty drilling continues to mount, the Breakthroughs piece could reach as many as 60 million viewers in all 50 states.  Read about it here.