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Even though we in Marion County have been assured that the Bluegrass Pipeline will not traverse our land, we are by no means “home free.” Another company, Kinder Morgan/Mark West, began as early as last August to send signals that it plans to convert its pipeline, one part of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, from carrying natural gas to transporting natural-gas liquids. Like the Bluegrass, the pipeline would move these hazardous liquids from fracking sites in Ohio and Pennsylvania down to the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline in question runs through Marion County, where easements for natural gas lines were secured years ago.
Citizens should be alarmed at this proposal for several reasons: The original pipelines were not built to carry liquids under great pressure. In fact, some evidence shows that the original pipe welding does not meet modern-day standards. Natural gas liquids contain toxic elements which, in case of a leak or an explosion, would seriously threaten human health and safety as well as damage soil, water, and air. Landowners have had no input about a change in the use of their land. The shipment of natural gas liquids, unlike that of natural gas itself, is not subject to a regulatory agency of the state of Kentucky.
Another effect of the switch centers on whether closing down a pipeline that carries natural gas might negatively impact the energy needs of people who rely on that form of fuel.
As citizens we should make our voices heard on this issue of such a critical switch from the original purpose of pipeline operations. For example, we could call on our elected officials to solicit more information and to set up citizen hearings on the topic. Further, those owners of property where gas pipeline easements have been in effect would do well to consult an attorney to see if their original agreements permit Kinder Morgan to make this change.
Officials at Kinder Morgan have suggested that the new system would be in operation by the fourth quarter of 2015. Before then, local citizens must take action to determine if this dangerous converted pipeline is in the best interests of our community.
Barbara L. Hagan