Monday, July 1, 2013

Proposed Bluegrass Pipeline Poses Serious Risks to Kentuckians

From Cara Cooper - Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition

Two out-of-state companies, Williams Companies, Inc and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, are in the initial phases of getting approval to build a natural gas pipeline through Central Kentucky. The pipeline, an extension to an existing pipeline in Hardinsburg, Ky, will aim to connect natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the Marcellus and Utica Shale in the Northeastern US to the export markets along the Gulf Coast. This pipeline would cause major inconveniences to community members and increase safety and health risks, but no known benefit to Kentuckians other than those landowners leasing their property at a low, one-time payout. The Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition (KSEC), an organization comprised of Kentucky students from over 11 colleges and universities, believe that this pipeline is a bad deal for the Commonwealth and if allowed, will damage our landscapes and natural history, put our communities at risk, exacerbate climate change, and threaten our local agriculture and outdoor tourism.

“It is important to note that these ‘natural gas liquids’ (a mixture of butane, ethane and propane) aren’t meant exclusively for us [in Kentucky].  These aren’t even the kind of natural gases used to produce energy. They are mainly intended for export, to be sold on the global market. Kentucky seems to be merely a vehicle for getting NGLs to petrochemical refineries in the Gulf” said Nathan Shuler, a senior at Centre College. “Meanwhile

Kentuckians will deal with a majority of the negative side effects of such a large pipeline and receive few long-term benefits for our state.”

Some of these negative side effects include: road damage and road congestion during pipeline construction, disruption of natural ecosystems, potential leaks and contamination of local water sources, localized air pollution, damage to waterways if pipeline construction cuts through rivers and streams, impacts to local tourism and outdoor recreation, clear-cut right of ways, fires and explosions. 

“One of the most dangerous aspects of natural gas pipelines are the compression stations” said Carly Cavitt, a junior at Murray State University. “Gases being transported in pipelines have to stay under great pressure, compression stations help the gas stay at the right pressure. These stations run 24 hours a day 7 days a week burning natural gas or diesel fuels to operate and ruining local air quality in the process. Carbon monoxide is a major culprit behind asthma, something we already have plenty of in Kentucky. These stations are also the site of many leaks, fires, and explosions.” 

If you live in one of the counties along the proposed route, please contact your county judge executive or the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition (KSEC) for more information and local public hearing dates. If you have been contacted by the pipeline companies, please do more research before allowing them to survey your property. For more information (including a proposed map of the route) and updates visit the KSEC website