Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New "Fast-track" LNG Export Rules - It Ain't About U.S.

First off, keep in mind that Exxon's total US income tax bill - federal, state and local for 2009 was ($46,000,000) That's right, Exxon ended up 2009 with essentially a tax refund of $46 million for income taxes.  It all is explained in this CNN article.  Left of center publication, Mother Jones, has its own take on Exxon's tax position. 
And we learn here that Exxon is AGAIN a big winner with these new LNG export rules as described below.  

"....Houston-based Cheniere Energy and Exxon are two big winners under the new rules.
Cheniere will add liquefaction capacity to its Sabine Pass terminal that is now being built in Louisiana.
The expansion proposal already received the required Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) permits. The proposal was facing up to a two year wait for its Energy Department review, Fuel Fix said.
The new regulations mean that the project is now ready for final action by the Energy Department.
Exxon Mobil’s Golden Pass project in southeast Texas is also on the fast track for approval. The project was far into its FERC review but behind other projects in the Energy Department’s line....."

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s plan for shaking up the way it vets proposals to export natural gas had the curious effect of winning praise from both a fierce critic and a fan of those foreign sales.
The Energy Department was able to unite export foe Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and advocate Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., by devising a new approach that appears to accelerate the review process overall, even though it extends the time benefits to just a few well-heeled players.  Read more.

Foreign Interests Fueling the Attack on Kentucky Property Rights

In this article from the US Energy Information Administration, we find data on how our country's natural gas serves a small, but growing, portion of China’s total energy demand. 

Why is this relevant to those of us fighting pipelines through Kentucky?  It simply shows how foreign demand is adding to the push for natural gas development in the US.  And why we have our work cut-out for us in this "crossroads" state, Kentucky.  This is problematic for a number of reasons:

1.  Increased demand abroad actually weakens US energy independence.
2.  The influx of foreign dollars could easily increase the lobbying budgets of gas companies.
3.  Increased lobbying increases the likelihood that some of "our" government officials --yes, the ones we support through our taxes and votes--may support legislation making it easier for fossil fuel industries seize your property rights through eminent domain abuse.


"....In 2013, China imported nearly 1.8 Tcf of LNG (trillion cubic feet) and pipeline gas to fill the growing gap between supply and demand. Imported natural gas met 32% of China's demand in 2013, up from 2% in 2006. China is swiftly developing its LNG import capacity in the urban coastal areas and currently has 10 major regasification terminals with 1.7 Tcf/y of capacity. In 2012, China rose to become the third-largest LNG importer in the world, after Japan and South Korea, and in 2013, the country imported 870 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of LNG. Estimates for the first half of 2014 show LNG imports growing at faster levels than in previous years....."

This growing international demand is another reason why it appears that we are stuck with the dangers of fracking for awhile.  Unless, of course, courageous political leaders step forward and appropriately regulate the industry. 
As an aside, here is one thing that I think needs to be addressed in our national discussion about energy options.  Excerpt from the linked article above:

"...China relies heavily on domestic coal (and to a lesser extent oil) to meet rising energy consumption. To reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, the Chinese government is attempting to replace some of the country's coal and oil use with natural gas...."

Is replacing coal and oil with natural gas as an energy source really the panacea that some claim?  Here is a headline and article from the Guardian from last year that makes this issue less clear than the USEIA implies:

Methane leaks could negate climate benefits of US natural gas boom: report

Reduction in carbon emissions triggered by America's shift from coal to gas is being offset by a sharp rise in methane
So, what IS the answer?  Two words: conservation and renewables.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

From the "What Are They Thinking?" Files...

Cheryl LaFleur appointed head of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The president's first choice, a renewable energy advocate, withdrew his name from consideration because of stalled confirmation. The second choice, a gas and electric industry insider, had NO trouble getting confirmed. Read on....

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Guarded Optimism Surrounds the Quiet Demise of the Bluegrass Pipeline

Guarded optimism surrounds a July 30, 2014 BusinessWire press release from the Williams Company that classifies the Bluegrass Pipeline as "abandoned." 

But like a dormant volcano, the fracking industry and its infrastructure support are not likely to go away anytime soon; especially with the government using our tax dollars and public resources to promote the all-powerful financial behemoth that controls much of our country's decision-making.

The Williams Company's press release comes on the heels of a recent announcement from the White House of a new "opportunity" in the form of private funding and investment in so-called "rural-infrastructure."

"WASHINGTON - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and CoBank CEO Robert Engel are announcing $10 billion in private funding to invest in rural infrastructure projects across the country.

The announcement is a part of a two-day "Rural Opportunity Investment Conference" that began Wednesday in Washington, D.C., which aims to bring together investment firms, government officials, and business leaders to promote investment in rural communities. Vilsack said the $10 billion fund will not only provide jobs to rural areas, but it will also be a catalyst for further private investments in infrastructure projects nation-wide."  Read more from CBS news.

As we are aware, the devil is often in the details, and on such details, the CBS article is largely silent. Now would be a very good time for farmers to get on board with the decision-making in this process to ensure that whatever infrastructure is supported is sustainable, both economically and environmentally and that it promotes long-term benefits for citizens.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bluegrass Pipeline Teach-In Tomorrow at the Kentucky Heartwood Festival

Bluegrass Pipeline Teach In
3:00 - 4:00 pm in the lower festival area

Attendees for this event do not have to pay entry fee to the festival if they are attending this event only.  This meeting is specifically designed for Millville area residents and others who want to learn more about the natural gas liquids pipeline proposed to run through this community.  Come find out what the company’s latest announcement means and what to expect with this pipeline.  FYI, if you come to the festival only for the pipeline meeting, you do not have to pay the entry fee.  For more information, check out the Heartwood Festival website.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

First Be Aware, then Be Angry, and then Be Active

The booklet Shalefield Stories is a compilation of personal testimonies of Americans trying to survive amid the fracking industry's mad dash for cash.  Their stories are raw and painful.  When you read it, you'll be angry.  We hope their stories will inspire you to act by contacting representatives at all levels and expressing your concerns.  The home you save may be your own.  Download a copy of Shalefield Stories. Learn more about Friends of the Harmed.

Help Parker County TX, Dimock PA, and Pavillion WY Get

E-blast Call to Action Now Through Sunday April 11!

Water supplies in Parker County TX, Dimock PA, and Pavillion WY are contaminated after fracking occurred in their city limits. The EPA come in and give them glimmer of hope but then dropped the investigation. Citizens are fighting back and need your help. Tell Administrator McCarthy to reopen the investigations. Feel free to call once, or twice, even three times. Let’s keep those phones ringing off the hook!  To make it easy, we have a quick script to use if you choose (See Below:)

Please Call Toll Free: 888-661-3342

Leave your message.  Something like this:  "Hi, My name is _____, and I'm calling to ask EPA Administrator McCarthy to reopen the investigations in Parker County TX, Dimock PA, and Pavillion WY. I'm saddened that the EPA has chosen to abandon these communities, and not protect them from the Oil and Gas industry. Your own scientists have said that their water was possibly contaminated by Fracking, yet you continue to do nothing. Please reopen the investigations!"

Williams Company "Incidents" Just Keep Coming Don't They?

The would-be builders of the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline just seem to keep having "incident" after "incident."  Some make the news, but it is possible that many more don't.  Why?  The answer may surprise you:

"Unless somebody dies or is injured, it’s not a reportable incident, says the federal agency in charge of investigating fracked methane pipeline safety."  Read more.

Further, "unless there was a loss of more than $50,000 in product, it’s not even a reportable incident, just an “abnormal operating condition,” according to what PHMSA said about Suavie Island, Oregon."  Read more.

This is especially troubling when we know that existing technology is far from perfect and detects only 5% of the nation's pipeline spills
and that members of the public or first responders were more likely to detect leaks than the "state of the art" detection equipment used by pipeline companies.

We've written about the company's problematic history, and problems continue, seemingly without significant penalty:

  • Williams fire and explosion near Plymouth, WA 2014-03-31 - A two-mile evacuation ratio around a Williams fracked methane facility in Oregon, and once again a state agency investigates while federal PHMSA does nothing, same near Plymouth, WA, as on Sauvie Island, OR. 
  • Williams Oak Grove explosion in Marshall County, WV 2014-04-05 - In which Williams admits [the] subsidence can cause a gas pipeline explosion. So does an even larger (36-inch vs. 12-inch) pipeline through the fragile karst sinkhole-prone limestone of the Floridan Aquifer for the Sabal Trail pipeline connected to Williams’ Transco sound like a good idea? Especially considering pipeline companies aren’t held accountable for the expense of their explosions, leaving local and state governments to pick up the tab?
  • Williams explosion and fire, Opal, WY 2014-04-23 - Fourth major incident this year for Williams, this time in Wyoming. Yet again locals and their local and state governments were left to pick up the tab, and the cause is still “under investigation.” 

Yes, We Can Stop the Fracking Madness: Dryden Fights Back

"The industry kept saying: 'We have the power; you have none. We are coming. Get out of the way or leave,'" says Joanne Cipolla-Dennis, recalling what happened when the oil and gas industry came to her town of Dryden, NY.

But Joanne and her neighbors came up with a plan. Watch the true story of people who discovered their shared strength and turned the tables on a powerful industry.

As fracking bears down on 31 states across the country, this story offers hope and important lessons for communities trying to protect themselves.

Please help us spread the word from coast to coast—and get people the information they need to win the fight against fracking.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Not to be Missed! Join us for the Potluck in the Path

Pipeline Delayed - Now What?

I was out of state last week when I heard the news about the Bluegrass Pipeline being indefinitely delayed.  Naturally, it was an exciting day for our group with emails flying back and forth, texts, and speculation as to what it all meant.  Most of us feel a sense of cautious optimism.  However, we also feel that it is most important to continue our efforts to lobby for citizens' land rights through strengthening Kentucky's eminent domain laws.

While we are naturally pleased that our families and homes will be safe for the next couple of years, we also know the battle is far from over.  We intend to focus our efforts on eminent domain and building meaningful, sustainable communities with the resilience to resist the spread of fracking.

We will continue to move forward with these initiatives and invite you to stay with us as we plan and implement strategies across the state.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Senate Action Still Possible on Eminent Domain Bill

To recap our recent push to protect Kentucky land rights:  There are several bills to clarify that private companies with projects that provide no public use or no public service should not have the power to condemn property. House Bill 31 focused on restricting eminent domain for natural gas liquids projects, such as the proposed Bluegrass Hazardous Liquids Pipeline, and was approved by the House 75-16 on March 21.

But again, Senate leaders are refusing to act. They have not even bothered to assign HB 31 to a committee, after ignoring an even better bill, Senate Bill 14, that has been before the Senate since January 7.

There have been several attempts in the Senate to attach the language of SB 14 or HB 31 as amendments to other legislation. So far, Senate leaders have refused to allow consideration of those bills or amendments. But it is still possible they could do so before the Senate adjourns.

ACTION: Please contact Senate leadership and your own senator with this message: “The law needs clarification to protect landowners from abuse of eminent domain by private companies. Please allow a vote on Senator Higdon’s 'utilities only' amendment.”

Contact senators by using the Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181. It will open at 7 a.m. on Monday. You can find legislators' email at HERE.

If you’re on social media, consider leaving polite messages for @kysengop, @damon_thayer and @kysenatepres urging Senate Republican leaders to act on Eminent Domain legislation.

If you would like to send a bulk email to reps and senators, you can use this list.  Simply copy and paste into your email's "to" box.  Please check to make sure your own reps are included...just in case we missed one!  Here is an example message you may want to consider as a model: 

“The law needs clarification to protect landowners from abuse of eminent domain by private companies. Please allow a vote on Senator Higdon’s 'utilities only' amendment.”

 dbp91044 <DBP91044@aol.com>,
 "Buford, Tom (State Sen.) (LRC)" <Tom.Buford@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Carpenter, Jared (State Sen.) (LRC)" <Jared.Carpenter@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Higdon, Jimmy (State Sen.) (LRC)" <Jimmy.Higdon@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Combs, Leslie (State Rep.) (LRC)" <Leslie.Combs@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Embry, CB (State Rep.) (LRC)" <CB.Embry@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Greer, Jeff (State Rep.) (LRC)" <Jeff.Greer@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Marzian, Mary Lou (State Rep.) (LRC)" <MaryLou.Marzian@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Mills, Terry (State Rep.) (LRC)" <Terry.Mills@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Quarles, Ryan (State Rep.) (LRC)" <Ryan.Quarles@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Richards, Jody (State Rep.) (LRC)" <Jody.Richards@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Sinnette, Kevin (State Rep.) (LRC)" <Kevin.Sinnette@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Smart, Rita H. (State Rep.) (LRC)" <Rita.Smart@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Tilley, John (State Rep.) (LRC)" <John.Tilley@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "Westrom, Susan (State Rep.) (LRC)" <Susan.Westrom@lrc.ky.gov>,
 "York, Jill (State Rep.) (LRC)" <jill.york@lrc.ky.gov>

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bluegrass Hazardous Liquids Pipeline Withdraws Corps Application

One of our contributors reported today that the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline has withdrawn its application to the US Army Corps of Engineers.  We would like to thank all of you for your calls and letters and for signing our petition on MoveOn.org calling on the Corps to require a comprehensive environmental impact statement and to deny a blanket national permit to the pipeline project.

We understand that historically, the Corps rarely rejects applications outright.  Alternately, we have heard that the Corps prefers to encourage applicants to withdraw applications that do not meet their standards.  In most cases, applicants revise their applications and resubmit in the future.

We speculate that may could have occurred for two reasons. First, it is possible that the Corps found the application to be incomplete (or simply not meeting the requirements of the Nationwide Permit). Second, it is also possible that the company withdrew the application to decrease the pipeline's exposure. This seems possible because some landowners report having been told by representatives that the pipeline announced a delay to "get people off their backs."

While this makes us smile, we caution that this is no time to let down our guard. We must continue to carefully watch what is going on in our neighborhoods, in state government, county fiscal courts, and planning and zoning commissions. As noted in today's thought for the day, "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to give to the few." As we've grown fond of saying, "back to work."

As you will recall, the Corps has authority over all of the waterway crossings the pipeline would traverse.  The proposed pipeline builders are required to submit an application for permission to cross.  In Kentucky alone, that would involve more than 700 crossings.  Our sources have obtained copies of the application documents for your research:

Thought for the Day

 Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to give to the few.
-Wendell Phillips

Although the legislative session is winding down without having passed our bill to protect Kentuckians from corporate eminent domain abuse, we have learned from this experience and are committed to watching and protecting citizens' rights.  We will not stop today, tomorrow, next year, or ever.  Greed never stops, and neither will we.

Fear Not - You Can Defend Yourself Against Condemnation - KRC will Help

If you have been concerned about possible condemnation of your home by the BG Hazardous Liquids Pipeline, please know that help is available at no cost to you.

Tom FitzGerald, of the Kentucky Resources Council said Bluegrass Pipeline officials would have a tough fight on their hands if they tried to condemn a landowner’s property through eminent domain to attain easement rights in his address at a Rotary Club meeting in Elizabethtown.

FitzGerald’s optimism at the thought of such a legal battle has been fostered by a Franklin Circuit Court decision that sided with pipeline opponents who say eminent domain powers are not available to the natural gas liquids pipeline.

“This is not a utility,” he said.

Some opponents also have claimed there will be no noticeable benefits for Kentucky from the pipeline because the natural gas liquids produced likely will be exported.

The pipeline, a partnership between Oklahoma pipeline company Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners of Houston, is being constructed from gas-producing fields from the Marcellus and Utica shales in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, south through Kentucky as it heads to the Gulf Coast.
The Kentucky route winds through more than a dozen counties, including Hardin, and would connect to an existing gas line in Hardinsburg.

The Bluegrass Pipeline has appealed the ruling, but the court decision would loom over any lawsuit filed until the case is settled, FitzGerald said. The Attorney General’s office, state Energy and Environment Cabinet and some commonwealth’s and county attorneys around the state have said they do not believe the pipeline has the authority to use eminent domain.

“They would have an uphill battle,” FitzGerald said.

Should anyone be sued by the pipeline under eminent domain, FitzGerald said his agency would defend them in court to stave off attorney fees for homeowners who want to be left alone.

The Kentucky Resources Council is a non-profit organization that has worked to protect Kentuckians involved in environmental disputes and does so without charge.  If the pipeline company attempts to condemn your property, please contact Tom Fitzgerald at the Kentucky Resources Council at http://www.kyrc.org/

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Saviors and Soundrels - Who Did What While You Weren't Looking

Many have written to ask for public disclosure of the representatives who did and did not support our efforts to protect Kentucky families from corporate eminent domain abuse.  Ask, and you shall receive.  Here is the list of those who voted for and against our bill.  Now would be a really good time to ally with candidates who may run against the people who did not support you or the Constitutions of our state and nation.  Other things you might consider:
  • Boycotting any businesses owned by reps who did not support us.
  • Volunteering for their opposition.
  • Donating to opposing campaigns.
  • Finding and growing your own leadership in your areas.
  • Continue to call and write these people throughout the year (in their offices) to let them know how you feel about them abandoning our families and not doing their jobs.
  • Sharing the list with friends, family, and other contacts to ask that they do the same.

Spalding University Lecture to Address Bluegrass Pipeline

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (March 31, 2014) – Spalding University’s School of Liberal Studies presents the 2014 Keenan Lecture “The Bluegrass Pipeline:  Working for Justice” featuring Tom FitzGerald (Kentucky Resources Council), Sr. Kathy Wright (Sisters of Loretto) and Cara Cooper (Kentucky Student Environmental Action Coalition) at 7 p.m. on April 10 in the Egan Leadership Center Lectorium (901 S. Fourth St.). The event is free and open to the public.

Fitzgerald, Wright and Cooper will address the environmental effects of the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline, which would transport natural gas liquids from Pennsylvania and West Virginia to the Gulf of Mexico, and will talk about the rights of the residents who live along the pipeline. Dr. Pattie Dillon, chair of the School of Liberal Studies, says that this year’s Keenan lecture interconnects religion with politics and environmental justice.

“We chose the Bluegrass Pipeline as the topic for this year’s lecture because it ties to the School of Liberal Studies’ theme this year—the natural environment—and because it links to the university’s mission of social justice and responding to the needs of the times in terms of the environment and the promotion of peace and justice,” Dillon says.

Kentucky counties directly impacted by the Bluegrass Pipeline include Bracken, Pendleton, Grant, Harrison, Scott, Owen, Franklin, Woodford, Anderson, Nelson, LaRue, Hardin and Breckinridge. But Wright says that this is an issue that impacts a much wider audience.

“Because of Kentucky's geography, any leaks or problems with the Bluegrass Pipeline offer the possibility of leaking toxic natural gas liquids into the water table or aquifer. Once these liquids have leaked into the ground or into nearby creeks or streams, they can travel through the waterways and potentially contaminate a much larger water supply,” says Sr. Kathy Wright. “In addition, questions of eminent domain and its use by private companies ‘passing through’ Kentucky can set a precedent that could impact every landowner and resident in the state.”

The Keenan Lecture was established in 1982 to honor the memory of Dr. Mary Emily Keenan, S.C.N. Her career in the fields of religious studies and classical languages was distinguished by fifty years of teaching at Spalding University, and for twenty of those years, she served as chair of the religious studies department.

“Institutions of higher education have always served as a place to have healthy conversations about controversial issues because of the focus on education and discovering new knowledge,” says Cooper. “Furthermore, the Keenan Lecture series focuses on ethical issues of broad social and cultural significance.”

What Now? Just Say No, and Stay Tuned

Some of you have contacted us asking what to do next.  While we cannot give you legal advise, we can say that the matter is in court, and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to win.  We hear the Supreme Court is a nice place to visit.  We have already one our lawsuit in Franklin County.  The company has appealed the decision, and if we win at that level, the decision will be binding up on the entire state.  Regardless, I see a long, drawn out battle ahead.  And that's okay with us.  It is a battle worth fighting.  If you are threatened with condemnation, and you do not want to grant an easement, please contact us.  We can help.  Anyone can join Kentuckians United for the Restriction of Eminent Domain, and it is free.  You are not alone - United We Stand.

Stay in touch with us.  We will regularly update the website and will keep you posted on our initiatives as they progress.  Please feel free to contact us at any time using the contact box at the right of this page.  You may also contact the Kentucky Resources Council for assistance, as we are all working together.

It Would Be Funny if It Weren't True

Pipeline Battle Will Continue Despite Legislative Stall Tactics

It appears condemnation issues related to a natural gas liquids pipeline project in Kentucky will be left up to the judicial system.  For the past year, we have been seeking legislative clarification of eminent domain law.  One of the many champions of our cause, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, gave it another try on Monday.  After the two bills he attached a floor amendment to last week were not been moved to the Senate floor, Monday he filed his "utilities only" amendment as a floor amendment to HB 355, which was being considered on the Senate floor. He asked for a suspension of the rules because he was not able to give 24-hour notice.

Sen. Damon Thayer spoke against the request to suspend the rules and asked the chair Sen. Robert Stivers to rule the motion out of order. Stivers seemed to hesitate and asked Higdon to repeat his request, and then Thayer repeated his objection. Stivers ruled the motion out of order.  So, essentially, Thayer and Stivers seem to believe that because they did not receive 24 hour notice, that they should not act on this legislation.  Never mind that thousands of people have been working diligently on this for about a year writing letters, holding public meetings, multiple counties have passed resolutions, television news programs, websites, and newspapers have run many stories on the issue, national news picked up the story....two men stood in the way.  This calls for an investigation I think.  It would be nice to know exactly how much they were paid off to throw our state under the bus.

Thayer and Stivers will likely argue that they acted properly. The reality is if they wanted the eminent domain amendment to receive a vote, they were given an easy chance today to allow it.  Stivers has been quoted as saying that the matter should be resolved in the court system.

To that, I simply say I smell methane.  Why are we paying for a legislature if they choose not to do their jobs?  Do they really not see that by clarifying legislation that they would be actually acting in the interests of Kentuckians (doing their jobs)?  How dare we ask the legislators to (gasp!) legislate.

In a supreme display of irony, while these Kentucky "public servants" blocked important eminent domain legislation that would protect families from the Bluegrasss pipeline, the Williams Company experienced yet another explosion at one of their facilities in Washington state on Monday.  Personally, I wouldn't trust this company to build an outhouse, much less run a hazardous liquids pipeline through my front yard.

Further, the Williams Company has had even more pipeline problems in Oregon -  on several recent occasions the company was forced to "emergency release" natural gas because of malfunctioning equipment.
".....Williams officials say they also plan to attend a community association meeting Thursday to answer questions and allay concerns after repeated venting from a pressure relief valve that prompted a neighborhood evacuation, school and road closures, and health and safety worries among residents.

Despite three gas releases in two months, no one from the company has proactively contacted residents to address their questions, said Jenny Malone, who lives with her four kids about a half mile from the transfer station. " Not a letter. Not an email. Not a phone call." 

Moreover, the federal regulator responsible for overseeing Williams' operations, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, has not visited the site or inspected the malfunctioning equipment. The agency considers the problems an "abnormal operating condition," not a reportable incident involving a death or injury or the loss of more than $50,000 in product.

"We didn't have anyone who could get out there right away to do some groundwork at the Williams facility to see what's going on there," said Damon Hill, a spokesman for PHMSA, which has 135 inspectors covering 2.6 million miles of pipeline...."

For the record, that is almost 20,000 miles for each PHMSA inspector.  Here is a link to PHMSA's library.

A Mini Documentary on the National Corvette Museum Sinkhole

Oh the carnage...

Or...see? This is perfectly safe....Let's put an NGL pipeline through here.  Better yet, we'll get these people to build it:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Monday Is Last Day to Pass a Bill!

Please call & ask your friends and family to call the legislature!

Call the legislative telephone line now at:  1-800-372-7181
Leave the message for all senators. 
"Protect property rights! Vote YES on Senator Higdon's floor amendments to House Bill 573."

Also, we especially need help from the following counties.  If you live in these counties or know people who do, please make contact this weekend at the phone numbers listed below.  Ask these representatives to support Senator Higdon's HB 573 and only his floor amendments:
District 25: Clay, Knox, Lee, Owsley, Whitley, Wolfe
Sen. Robert Stivers (R)
Senate President
home: Manchester, KY phone: 606-598-8575

District 24: Bracken, Campbell, Pendleton
Sen. Katie Kratz Stine (R)
President Pro Tempore
home: Southgate, KY phone: 859-781-5311

District 17: Grant, Kenton, Scott
Sen. Damon Thayer (R)
Majority Floor Leader
home: Georgetown, KY phone:

District 38: Bullitt, Jefferson County
Sen. Dan Seum (R)
Majority Caucus Chair
home: Fairdale, KY phone: 502-749-2859

District 30: Bell, Breathitt, Johnson, Leslie, Magoffin, Perry
Sen. Brandon Smith (R)
Majority Whip
home: Hazard, KY phone: 606-436-4526

Friday, March 28, 2014

Comment Period Extended on Kentucky's Texas Gas Pipeline

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has announced that it is extending the public comment period on the abandonment and repurposing of the Kentucky portion of the Texas Gas Transmission, LLC pipeline. 

The deadline for comments has been extended to April 29, 2014.  It is important for FERC to hear your concerns about this project.
 While most of our focus on this page has centered on the new construction of the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline, the completed project would actually span from Pennsylvania to Louisiana.  Much of this line would be using "converted" existing lines.  

In Kentucky, this portion is called the Texas Gas Transmission, LLC pipeline.  This pipeline runs through the southwestern part of Kentucky and Tennessee and on down to Louisiana.

Currently, it carries natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico to markets in the Midwest.  It actually serves as a utility.  It was originally constructed using the right of eminent domain because of its public purpose.  If FERC approves of its abandonment and repurposing, it will no longer be used to serve the public.  

Instead, it will be used to  transport NGLs (natural gas liquids) from the Marcellus and Utica shales in PA and WV to the Gulf for chemical manufacturing and export.  It will not provide service to the public.

Because it is already in the ground, and the easements were acquired by the gas company decades ago, people who currently live along this line will have little or no voice in the conversion--other than to provide comments to FERC. (More on that later...)

This conversion project will also require 2 new crossings of the Mississippi and new terrain pipe in Arkansas in Crittendon and Mississippi Counties.

The portion of pipeline that would be repurposed in Kentucky is illustrated below.  The red dot marks the approximate location of where the Bluegrass would join the Texas line.  As you can see, the existing line follows the western border of the state through the New Madrid Seismic zone.  The area made recent news when a gas explosion rocked a small community in Adair County, and auto aficionados worldwide wept as massive sinkhole swallowed eight expensive Corvettes.

The line is owned by Boardwalk Pipelines and is estimated to be 55 to 60 years old.  It is most likely constructed of cast iron, as were most U.S. gas lines of that period.  Studies in cities such as Washington, D.C. are suggesting that pipelines of this vintage are notoriously leaky and are not structurally sound for natural gas, much less, high pressure NGLs.  

We have been working to gather comments to send to FERC and have asked for a comprehensive environmental  assessment (EA) to be conducted before this pipeline is approved for abandonment and repurposing.

However, your voice is needed.  You may submit your comments to FERC here: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ferconline.asp

And because we all know how government portals are, here are some instructions.  

More to come.  Hopefully we can make this easier.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday Night Strategy Message

 Call the legislative telephone line now at:  1-800-372-7181
          Leave the message for all senators. 
"Protect property rights! Vote YES on Senator Higdon's floor amendments to House Bill 573." 

Please check back periodically for updates.  We appreciate your patience with the process.   

URGENT! Protect property rights! Vote YES for Floor Amendment #1 on House Bill 573

Call the legislative telephone line now at 1-800-372-7181

Tell ALL Senators - Protect property rights! Vote YES for Floor Amendment #1 on House Bill 573!!!

                   Things are changing minute by minute...Here is the latest.... Stay Tuned!

Because HB 31 has not yet been assigned to a committee, Sen. Higdon is attempting to bypass the committee process and force a vote of the full Senate on property rights. Senate Floor Amendment 1 to House Bill 573 is the same as Senate Bill 14, and says eminent domain is limited to utilities regulated by the Public Service Commission. This is consistent with the court ruling. HB 573 is a bill about the Public Service Commission that passed the House on Tuesday, 62-34.

Please note, HB 573 also has not yet been assigned to a committee in the Senate, and it's possible if Senate leaders want to avoid a vote on property rights, that they will let HB 573 die. Sen. Higdon is trying to force the issue, and HB 573 is a bill expected to have the support of Sen. Stivers. So the strategy may change again before the end of the session.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Now? Back to Work!

The news of the decision against the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline made headlines and impacts from Wall Street to Bakken shale country.  Those of us here in the real Bluegrass reveled a bit and then immediately went back to work on the multiple layers of advocacy and action we are taking to support Kentuckians' property rights.  This is not over, and we still need your help.

As you know, we still have a bill in the Senate, and we are asking you to continue making calls and contacts.  Even if you have already called and written, we ask that you continue to spread the word and encourage your contacts to do the same.  Remember that while the capitol may appear quiet on the outside, right now, perhaps at this very moment, there is an army of highly paid lobbyists at work using every angle they can to take away your right to say no to this pipeline.

Company representatives are busily making hefty contributions, and probably providing other perks as well, to many of your representatives to try to influence their votes.

Several legislators have attempted to tack on floor amendments that would weaken our bill and Kentucky property owners' rights.

For these reasons we need you to send a strong message to Kentucky's Senators urging them to act in the interest of landowners.

Call the legislative telephone line now at 1-800-372-7181

Leave a message for all Senators:
  • Ask them to move HB 31 through committee.  
  • Tell them you want HB 31 only.  
  • You do not want floor amendment 8.  
  • You do not want any additional floor amendments at all.
  • If HB 31 cannot be passed without amendment 8, then you do not want HB 31 to be passed at all.  
Some legislators are actively working against this bill because they support corporate interests over your property rights. For this reason, your calls are extremely important right now.  If we do not get enough calls, the bill won’t move forward.  

Thank you again for all you do.  United We Stand!

Does the Lawsuit Affect You?

We are grateful for Judge Phillip Shepherd's favorable ruling in our suit against the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline.  His careful consideration of the facts of our case gave underdogs a voice and a chance to keep the land rights they have worked for without the fear of condemnation by a private corporation not in public service.  Some have contacted us wanting to know how this ruling affects them.  If you are a property owner who has signed an easement, or if you do not want to sign an easement, the ruling may have positive implications for you.

At this time, the ruling is binding only in Franklin County.  However, it may offer some persuasive influence in any lawsuits that could be filed in other counties.  To fully evaluate how this may impact your rights, contact a trusted attorney for evaluation of your situation.

We cannot and will not rest until this matter is firmly resolved.  Pipeline representatives have indicated their plan to appeal Judge Shepherd's ruling.  We intend to meet that challenge.  If we prevail at the appeal, the decision will be binding statewide.  

In the interim, if you live outside of Franklin County and you are threatened with condemnation, please contact us.  

If you already signed an easement, and you did so believing that the pipeline had eminent domain rights, you may want to consider contacting your attorney if you are having second thoughts.  If you were misled or were not given full market value for your property rights, you may want to consider speaking with your attorney.

Franklin Co. Judge Rules Against Eminent Domain for Bluegrass Hazardous Liquids Pipeline

It's safe to say that after nearly a year of seeking protection from threats of condemnation by a private corporation not in public service, the real bluegrass slept a little better Tuesday night.

Bluegrass Pipeline, LLC cannot use eminent domain to take private property for construction of a natural gas liquids pipeline through Kentucky, a Franklin Circuit judge ruled. 

Judge Phillip Shepherd held that the power of eminent domain is "an essential attribute of a sovereign government" that cannot be delegated to a private company such as Bluegrass Pipeline "without a clear legislative mandate that such a delegation is in the public interest."
ad more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/03/25/3160754/franklin-judge-firm-cannot-use.html#storylink=cpy

The ruling was a victory for Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain, or KURE, a citizens group that asked the court last year to clarify whether Bluegrass Pipeline had the power to use eminent domain.  Read more...

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/03/25/3160754/franklin-judge-firm-cannot-use.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Great Job Everyone! Victory in Sight - More Work to Do on House Bill 31!

We Need the Voice of Every Kentuckian to Help Protect ALL Citizens' Property Rights from Corporate Abuse of Eminent Domain

To all of you who have helped protect Kentucky and who have helped us make it this far, Thank You!  We could not have made it this far without every single one of you helping.  We are nearly there, and victory is in sight.  However, we cannot yet stop to rest.  There are a few more things we need for you to do this weekend.

House Bill 31 is expected to be assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, which must hear and vote on the bill for it to move to the Senate floor.

There are four specific things we ask you to do:

1.  Contact Senators at home this weekend.  Please also call EVERYONE you can and ask them to do the same.  We need support from every county in the state because this legislation will impact everyone.  Even if the pipeline would not go through your county, there is a very strong likelihood you will be affected in the future if private companies are allowed to misuse eminent domain.  When you reach out to others about this, please suggest that they also call their contacts.  Suggestions to call:
  • Family, Friends & Neighbors
  • Co-Workers
  • Church Groups
  • Civic Organizations
  • Clubs
  • College and University Alumni
  • Student Groups
  • Businesses & Professionals and Related Organizations
Three Things to Say to Your Senator:  
  • “Please support property rights by voting yes to HB 31."
  • Ask the Senate leadership to bring up the bill for a vote." 
  • Please vote "No" on Floor Amendment 8."

Find your Senator’s contact info here: 

Three Things to Say to Your Personal Contacts:
  • "Please call your Senators and ask them to "support property rights by voting "Yes" on HB 31."
  • "Please also ask the Senators to bring up the bill to Senate leadership so that the Senate can vote on it."
  • "Ask your Senator to vote "No" on Floor Amendment 8."

2.  Contact Senate President Robert Stivers.  Ask him to "support property rights by ensuring HB31 is quickly heard in committee and brought to the Senate floor for vote.” Mr. Stivers's Email address is: Robert.Stivers@lrc.ky.gov

3.  Contact Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer.  Ask him to “support property rights by ensuring HB31 is quickly heard in committee and brought to the Senate floor for vote.” Mr. Thayer's Email address is: Damon.Thayer@lrc.ky.gov

4.  Contact Senator Whitney Westerfield, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Ask him to “Bring HB 31 to committee this week and support its passage.” Mr. Westerfield's Email address is: Whitney.Westerfield@lrc.ky.gov

Thank you again for your support.  You are truly the best lobbyists money can't buy!