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 <>,,,
 "Buford, Tom (State Sen.) (LRC)" <>,
 "Carpenter, Jared (State Sen.) (LRC)" <>,,,,,,,,,,
 "Higdon, Jimmy (State Sen.) (LRC)" <>,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
 "Combs, Leslie (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,,,,,,,,,
 "Embry, CB (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,,,,,,,
 "Greer, Jeff (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
 "Marzian, Mary Lou (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,,,,,,,
 "Mills, Terry (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,,,,,,,,,
 "Quarles, Ryan (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,,,
 "Richards, Jody (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,,,,,,,,,
 "Sinnette, Kevin (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,
 "Smart, Rita H. (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,,,,,,,
 "Tilley, John (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,,,,,,,
 "Westrom, Susan (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>,,,
 "York, Jill (State Rep.) (LRC)" <>

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 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

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