Pipe Dreams

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By Rick Arendt
Guest Columnist

I have attended three local informational meetings regarding the proposed pipeline project through our beautiful state and one in Elizabethtown, which was put on by the pipeline companies. I asked questions of the experts supplied and based on their answers I have concluded that absolutely no good can possibly come to the people of Kentucky by allowing this project to begin. It is a very bad idea for our environment, for our safety and for our land values.
The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline will simply pump toxic, flammable, highly compressed (1000+ psi) liquid gas through Kentucky so that it can be turned into dollars (lots and lots of dollars) at the south end of the pipe, far from our Kentucky homes. According to one “expert,” the pipe itself will be made in the USA. He assured me it would be made here as it was too expensive to ship heavy pipe from China. I thought this answer was questionable as we ship iron ore and even scrap iron to China.
According to Williams’ own literature, the pipe will have thicker, stronger walls in “populated” areas. What does that mean for us? I fear Nelson, Marion and most other Kentucky counties will in “Williams’ World” fall into the “unpopulated” category giving us thinner, thus cheaper versions of pipe. We will be forced to trust their engineers and accountants to get it right as there is apparently no state or federal oversight.
I am fairly certain that most pipe failures or accidents occur in the so-called unpopulated areas where we all live, since populated areas would necessarily be avoided by anyone wanting to make a 100-foot wide clear cut in a reasonably straight line. The much discussed leak in Parachute, Colo., that went undiscovered by Williams for weeks, and seriously damaged the well water supply, occurred in a four-inch pipe. The Bluegrass Pipeline is 24 inches in diameter with a capacity about 36 times that of a four-inch diameter pipe.
Parachute was probably considered an “unpopulated area”. Look at a road map. The risk for Kentucky is exponentially greater. First, our karst geologic features are extremely vulnerable to hydrocarbon contamination. Second, the flow rate from the 24-inch pipe could possibly be enormous in comparison to the Parachute leak even if it could be detected quickly and shut down within minutes. The leak detecting and pipe flow stopping takes place in Tulsa, Okla. While the Bluegrass Pipeline is a money making dream for Williams and Boardwalk, it will be a nightmare for the people of Kentucky. This pipe dream must be stopped at the state line, period.
How do we accomplish that? The fact is that this project is not feasible unless our state government and/or courts grant Williams and Boardwalk “eminent domain,” a process normally applied to road building or sewer, water and power projects. Your property is taken for the public good and you are compensated. The Bluegrass Pipeline is not that sort of project, and its owners are a stock-issuing, for-profit corporation, not for example, the state highway department. There is no public good. Our governor and the legislature must protect the property rights of the people they work for and deny any use of eminent domain for the Bluegrass Pipeline.
Governor Steve Beshear does not appear to be too concerned about this issue, while his son represents the pipeline companies. He does us all a great disservice by dismissing this as being unimportant. All Kentuckians should be really, really concerned about the outcome. It will be too late when the big yellow machine is at your fence line! Put simply, this entire project is a property rights issue. If our elected officials actively support our property rights, all the environmental safety, land value, other risks (no rewards) and problems just go away. Let them know how you feel. The contact information is in this paper. If this project should succeed, the site of a thick morning fog in the hollows will never be quite the same.
Editor’s note: Rick Arendt lives in Loretto.