Saturday, August 31, 2013

Call to Action - Attend the Pipeline Hearing in Frankfort

Legislative committee has Bluegrass Pipeline meeting on Sept. 5

It took a while, but the Kentucky General Assembly is finally getting engaged in the Bluegrass Pipeline issue. On the heels of a Senate resolution calling for a Public Services Commission review of the proposal and for respect for property rights, a joint House and Senate committee is scheduled to hear from the pipeline developers, state regulators and an environmental attorney on Thursday. The meeting is 1 p.m. Sept. 5, in Capitol Annex Room 154.

Contact and encourage to attend the hearing:
-- local emergency responders, and to come in uniform
-- local officials: mayors, judges, magistrates, city council members, county attorneys, and to have at least one prepared to speak on behalf of fiscal courts that have passed pipeline resolutions
-- landowners who were misled by pipeline land agents
-- all affected and concerned friends and neighbors – we want to fill the room to overflowing
-- our local legislators (more about the role they can take later)

What to expect at the hearing

The committee staff says It's a full agenda – sometimes they will allow unscheduled speakers and sometimes they won't, it's up to the committee chair. Committees are usually open to testimony from the floor, but it's often based on whether there is time (though the company will likely be allowed to take as much time as they want – this hearing is for them). A couple of people have reached out to Sen. Jared Carpenter to let him know that people want to speak. Folks can sign up when they arrive at the hearing, and may also want to contact Sen. Carpenter or the committee staff ahead of time to say they want the opportunity to speak to the committee.
Even if there is no testimony from the floor, the chair as a courtesy will usually recognize other legislators in the room (not on the committee). If our legislators are there they could ask to be recognized, and bring with them to the witness table some of their constituents and ask that they be allowed to make a statement. So this is an additional role our legislators could take – to be prepared to ask for recognition and to introduce their constituents who are present.

To help make it possible for more testimony from the floor, we suggest keeping our statements to 3 minutes, that they be positive in tone and approach committee members as potential allies – we are asking them to help us address this important issue. It's a good idea to practice statements ahead of time.

There are no members on the committee who are strong environmental advocates, they will more likely be sympathetic to eminent domain issues (two members, Sen. John Schickel and Sen. Robin Webb were cosponsors of Sen. Higdon's resolution). 

Before the hearing

Those of us who can would like to meet prior to the hearing.  If you can come before by noon, please contact us.  We will let you know where the meeting will be held.

Speakers

We developed a list of folks who plan to speak or whom we would like to speak, and who will ask them. If you were not on the call, please confirm if you are coming prepared to speak or have heard from others that they plan to do so. This will help us coordinate as best we can.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tom Droege Answers Questions about the Bluegrass Pipeline - Our Responses in Green

Will the Bluegrass Pipeline use eminent domain?
"Williams only considers the use of eminent domain as a last resort, when no other options are available. It is in everyone’s best interest, including our own, to reach a mutually agreeable settlement and that is our primary goal. Over the years of building pipelines we have worked with thousands of landowners and have only exercised this option a very small percentage of times. Our objective is to seek mutually beneficial outcomes and have been able to reach agreement with landowners in most cases." Tom Droege

Clearly, unless all Kentucky landowners along the proposed route agree to sell their land rights to this company, someone (perhaps many people) could ultimately face condemnation hearings.  Many Kentucky attorneys (including the attorney general) have publicly stated that they do not believe the company has the right of eminent domain.  However, the regulatory language does not specifically exclude non-utilities.  This lack of clarity could allow the company to take land owners to court and fight them for their hard-earned homes and land rights.  How many Kentuckians have the resources to fight a multi-billion dollar company in court?  Every Kentuckian must understand that if the precedent is set to allow private, non-utilities to take over citizens' land rights, no one will be safe from corporate greed.
  
How is Kentucky’s geology and geography taken into consideration?
"Less than 1 percent of the Bluegrass Pipeline route will cross terrain that is close to areas with geologically sensitive features, such as surface karst terrain. The pipeline route will be selected to avoid any active sinkholes or any other karst features or locations where it would not be prudent to build the pipeline. Our own surveys and extensive geological studies, along with an independent study from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will help ensure all public health, safety and the environmental concerns are met."  Tom Droege

Perhaps Mr. Droege's statement is relative to the entire length of the pipeline ranging from Pennsylvania to Louisiana and not just the new line being constructed in Kentucky.  The fact is, a significant amount of the proposed pipeline would, in fact, traverse sensitive karst areas in Kentucky.  Clearly, based on the map below, the pipeline does not "avoid karst features." To suggest that any length of the line going through karst is somehow safe is not accurate.


The pipeline would not "avoid active sinkholes" either.



How safe is the pipeline?
"Pipelines are the safest, most reliable and most efficient manner of transporting energy products. They safely operate several feet beneath the ground free from the many potential complications faced by surface transport like truck and rail. Statistics gathered by the National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency, indicate that less than one one-hundredth of one percent (.01 percent) of all transportation accidents in the United States are related to pipelines. In fact, there is a 37 times higher incident rate for transporting hazardous materials by rail than by pipeline. Road incidents occur at an even greater rate." Tom Droege

Pipelines in North America spilled three times as much crude oil as trains for comparative distances over an eight-year period, the International Energy Agency reported in a study based on U.S. Department of Transportation data.
 
Oil and gas companies would have the public choose, as if we must shoulder the risks of an either or scenario.  In our opinion, the public should not have to choose between this train spill and explosion:
and this pipeline explosion.
Neither method of transporting explosive liquids is "safe."
 
What is your plan for a leak or other type of emergency?
"The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline is being designed with safety as its top priority, with design features and operating practices that adhere to the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration standards. 
 Bluegrass Pipeline will be monitored by our Pipeline Control Center, which has leak detection systems that constantly watch for signs of trouble along the pipeline. If a Control Console for Bluegrass receives a leak alarm, the controller will verify the alarm by following Pipeline Control Procedures and using support staff such as our leak detection engineers. Once verified, the Controller will alert local operations and shut down the pipeline if necessary. Operations technicians located along the pipeline will then deploy to the site in conjunction with local emergency responders who have been trained to respond to these emergencies." Tom Droege

The pipeline would:
  • Cross the Ohio River at Bracken County, an area having experienced several earthquakes in the last few decades;
  • Cut through sensitive karst and sinkhole areas;
  • Be built by a company with a lengthy history of violations, fines, and multiple leaks and explosions (with at least two explosions having occurred after the company received notice of violations, leaks and corrosion but failed to correct the problems);
  • Convert existing, old lines that were engineered for an entirely different purpose; and
  • Add yet another pipeline threat to the already over-worked and highly active New Madrid Seismic Zone (which reaches into Western Kentucky).
 This makes us question whether the project is truly being designed with safety as a top priority. 

Droege continues, "The Bluegrass Pipeline will be designed with remotely operated valves as well as manually operated valves along its route. The operations technician will shut off any manual valves and take other necessary steps to minimize the impact of the leak."
 
The company's history speaks for itself.  Since it has been reported that the company knew of leaks prior to the Appomattox, VA explosion, that there was a history of violations prior to the Geismar plant explosion, and the fact that Parachute, Colorado is still not yet cleaned up after a spill leaked for weeks before being discovered by accident in January 2013, we have no faith in the company's ability and/or motivation to address problems when they are discovered.  Workers who were sent in to "clean up" in Parachute were not adequately trained or protected and suffered chemical injuries.  In our opinion, the company does not appear to address problems until they affect their bottom line or until a disaster is made public.
 
 
Further, with the finished pipeline spanning from Pennsylvania to Louisiana, and up to 400,000 barrels of NGLs being pressured through the line each day, the shutdown process is likely to be a much more complex matter than closing an automatic shutdown or turning off a valve.  It would most likely require a  controlled, systematic shutdown  process to avoid excess pressure build-up and causing a massive rupture.  Check out Bob Does the Math for more Details.
 
 
 
 
 

Representation Without Representation

We understand that a committee has been formed to study the Bluegrass Pipeline.  We find it unacceptable that  no legislator from a county on the pipeline's projected route is on the committee. While most of us could understand and support the need for a diverse committee, how on earth could this be fair to those of us who would have to live with the decisions that come out of this committee? It seems that every day, Steve Beshear is showing more and more that his interest is not in serving the citizens of the Bluegrass.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up.....

While Steve Beshear chose not to do one of the single most important things he could do to prevent groundwater contamination (addressing the lack of standards and regulations with regard to construction and operation of natural gas liquids pipelines like the Bluegrass Pipeline) he apparently thinks holding workshops on how to inspect and maintain water wells is a worthwhile endeavor.  Let's give him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he is not as short-sighted as his inaction on the pipeline would suggest.  Maybe he is preparing us all for the increased possibility of groundwater contamination when the pipeline leaks.  

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Energy and Environment Cabinet

Steven L. Beshear, Governor                              Leonard K. Peters, Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         CONTACT:  Allison Fleck, 502-564-3410
Governor urges citizens to protect groundwaterDOW to hold well maintenance workshop Sept. 10
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 30, 2013) – Gov. Steve Beshear has proclaimed Sept. 10 as Protect Your Groundwater Day in Kentucky to help bring attention to the importance of groundwater to our communities and the need to protect this vital natural resource.

In signing the proclamation, the governor called upon Kentuckians to “help protect our source waters from pollution, to practice water conservation and to get involved in local water issues.”

Groundwater is a valuable resource for industry, commerce, agriculture and, most importantly, drinking water. In Kentucky, 2 million people rely on groundwater from wells and springs for their drinking water.

One way citizens can help protect their groundwater source is through proper water well maintenance, said DOW geologist Rob Blair.

“When we follow up on complaints about problems with private wells, the solution is usually related to well maintenance,” said Blair. “It helps to think about your well as you would your car – you’re better off performing routine maintenance rather than waiting until something goes wrong. It’s the same with wells – they need regular attention.”

Blair added that well users are often unaware of basic well maintenance needs – a problem his agency will address with a special Protect Your Groundwater Day to be held Sept. 10 at Appalshop in Whitesburg, Ky.

DOW is inviting the public to learn the basics of well maintenance at a hands-on demonstration to be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10, in the parking lot of Appalshop, located at 91 Madison Ave.  A mock-up well and plumbing system complete with running water will illustrate the parts of a well, the pump and the piping, while DOW groundwater experts demonstrate the methods for proper cleaning and maintenance. The event is free and open to the public.

Blair said wells should be checked annually.

“If you are a well owner, inspect your well annually and disinfect it to prevent problems from arising,” said Blair.  “An annual checkup by a qualified water well contractor is the best way to ensure problem-free service and quality water. Preventive maintenance is usually less costly than emergency maintenance and it can prolong the life of your well and related equipment.”
The Kentucky Division of Water coordinates several programs aimed at protecting the Commonwealth’s groundwater. The Groundwater Protection Program requires the development and implementation of a protection plan by anyone conducting activities that have the potential to pollute groundwater. The Wellhead Protection Program requires public water supplies relying on groundwater to delineate the recharge area of the well or spring from which it draws its water, identify potential contaminant sources in this area and implement groundwater protection strategies for these areas. Additionally, the Drillers Certification Program regulates the construction of water wells.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Study Finds Fracking Fluid From 2007 Kentucky Spill May Have Killed Threatened Fish Species

A joint study from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released Wednesday found that a fracking fluid spill in Kentucky in 2007 likely caused the widespread death of several types of fish.
Nami Resources Company, a London, Ky.-based oil and gas exploration company, spilled fracking fluid from four well sites into the Acorn Fork Creek in southeastern Kentucky in May and June 2007. Not long after, nearly all the aquatic life -- including at least two fish from a threatened species -- in the part of the stream near the spill died. Chemicals released during the spill included hydrochloric acid.  
"Our study is a precautionary tale of how entire populations could be put at risk even with small-scale fluid spills," said USGS scientist and lead author Diana Papoulias in the release.
"These species use the same water as we do, so it is just as important to keep our waters clean for people and for wildlife," co-author Tony Velasco said. "This is an example of how the smallest creatures can act as a canary in a coal mine."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pipeline Companies Want Drones for Surveillance

North American energy companies are planning to use drones to monitor their pipelines — in part to check for potential gas or oil leaks, but also to limit “third-party intrusions,” a broad range of activity that includes anything from unwanted vehicles entering restricted areas around pipelines to environmental activists.

“I would suggest that folks did not sign up for video surveillance when they signed easement contracts,” says Ron Seifert, a spokesperson for the Tar Sands Blockade

“Of course, keep in mind that a lot of these easements go right through landowners’ front yards and backyards. Does that mean that every time they go outside they have to worry that TransCanada, a multinational corporation who is known to share information with the federal government, might be filming them? Does that mean in signing a contract with TransCanada folks are subjected to surveillance and sharing information with the government?”

Grant, Owen, and Scott County Community Meetings

LANDOWNER INFORMATION MEETING REGARDING THE BG PIPELINE
DATE: FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013
TIME: 6:00 – 8:00 PM
LOCATION: THREE SPRINGS CAMPGROUND, 595 SAYLORS POINT ROAD, CORINTH, KY

Woodford County Passes Pipeline Resolution

We would like to express our appreciation to the Woodford County Fiscal Court for passing a resolution calling for oversight.  They also called for clarification of Kentucky's eminent domain laws.  Thank you for your careful analysis and leadership in this critical matter!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Legislative committee has Bluegrass Pipeline meeting on Sept. 5

It took a while, but the Kentucky General Assembly is finally getting engaged in the Bluegrass Pipeline issue. On the heels of a Senate resolution calling for a Public Services Commission review of the proposal and for respect for property rights, a joint House and Senate committee is scheduled to hear from the pipeline developers, state regulators and an environmental attorney on Thursday. The meeting is 1 p.m. Sept. 5, in Capitol Annex Room 154.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Natural gas liquids blast in 2004 destroyed five eastern Kentucky homes

Critics the Bluegrass Pipeline have found a variety of out-of-state examples of where natural gas liquids pipelines have exploded or spilled. It turns out there is one closer to home. And it was a very dramatic event, as the photo, at left, illustrates. A four-inch diameter natural gas liquids pipeline running through a Floyd County subdivision exploded in 2004, destroying five homes. While that fact is disconcerting enough, the builders of the ill-fated pipeline (MarkWest) now want to "repurpose" an existing natural gas pipeline running from north to south through the center of Kentucky.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Citizens Everywhere Are Standing Up for Their Land Rights - Julia Trigg Crawford's Story


“Our appellate brief is now in front the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and we are confident this panel of experienced judges will give all the issues the thoughtful consideration and thorough review they deserve. Since the lower court's ruling against us in August we've worked diligently to elevate the dialogue around property rights and eminent domain abuse.”
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who stands with us. It will take all of us linking arms to bring about change.

In solidarity,
Julia Trigg Crawford


Read the history of the Crawford family's battle for their farm.

Commissioners not keen on Bluegrass Pipeline pump station at Leesburg Industrial Park

Citing the loss of half of their industrial park space for a Bluegrass Pipeline pump station that would only bring four to six jobs, Leesburg, Ohio officials are not particularly inclined to support it.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Challenging the Industry Myth: Fracking Has, In Fact, Been Linked to Water Contamination

Many of us were aghast at Andy Barr's recent statements in a fairly crowded town meeting held in Versailles, KY where he emphatically denied there was any evidence that fracking contaminates water.Household drinking water that comes from wells near known fracking sites has been found to contain levels of methane six times greater than what’s common elsewhere, according to a study.

Researchers at Duke University sampled drinking water from 141 wells across northeastern Pennsylvania and southern New York and determined that the concentration of methane, the main component of natural gas, is much higher when those wells are within one kilometer of a hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”sites.


The Duke researchers analyzed 141 drinking water wells (combining data from a previous study of 60 sampled wells in 2011) from the Alluvium, Catskill, and Lock Haven aquifers and a few drinking water wells from the Genesee Formation in Otsego County of New York. Methane was detected in 82 percent of drinking water samples for homes within a kilometer (0.62 miles or 1,093 yards) of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, wells.
Robert Jackson from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment wrote the report and confirmed that, “the methane, ethane and propane data, and new evidence from hydrocarbon and helium isotopes, all suggest that drilling has affected some homeowners’ water.”
In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Tribune/Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau, staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production.

The presentation, based on data collected over 4 1/2 years at 11 wells around Dimock, concluded that "methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality." The presentation also concluded that "methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking [hydraulic fracturing] and other gas well work."  Despite these and other findings, the EPA inexplicably dropped further investigation.


The Environmental Protection Agency released a draft study tying the technique, formally called hydraulic fracturing, to high levels of chemicals found in groundwater in the small town of Pavillion, Wyo. EPA scientists found high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, and synthetic glycol and alcohol, commonly found in hydraulic fracturing fluid.


Explore the Science of Fracking with Dr. Anthony Ingraffea

Dr. Anthony Ingraffea spent two years as a structural engineer with the Grumman Aerospace Corporation and two years as a county engineer with the Peace Corps in Venezuela before he began doctoral studies. He has taught structural mechanics, finite element methods,and fracture mechanics at Cornell since 1977.


Fracking Hell: The Untold Story


MarkWest Pipeline Breaks in West Virginia Landslide

As reported earlier on this site, MarkWest and Kinder-Morgan are planning to transport NGL's from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays through Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico by using "repurposed" natural gas lines.  This is in direct competition to the Bluegrass Pipeline.  For the real scoop on the BG Pipeline, go here or here.  You may also remember that we learned of a Mark West NGL spill in WV about August 17th.  Look at this excerpt:

"....Residents of the area expressed concern about potential hazards associated with the pipeline break. According to Bill Hughes of Wetzel County, residents nearby said they had been smelling gas that they believed to be propane since Aug. 10.
Ed Wade, who lives about a mile from the spill, said he talked to a neighbor who noticed the problem early Aug. 10. Wade visited the area of the spill and encountered "really, really strong fumes." He said he saw one "roll-out ribbon" nearby that states "Danger," but he did not believe this was an adequate warning.
"There should have been a person posted at any of the points of entry to the area," Wade said. "There are local ATV trails through there, and any source of ignition is bad."

While details are scant, it is disturbing that when the break occurred, local officials were not aware of exactly what substance had been spilled.  Nor were they able to get close enough to the spill to test the water because of safety issues.  It appears that it took a week to discover the leak.  

"LITTLETON - A landslide apparently damaged a MarkWest Energy pipeline in northern Wetzel County this week, causing it to rupture and spill an unidentified, but potentially explosive, liquid.
Kathy Cosco, spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, confirmed the spill Friday. But DEP officials have not yet been able to closely examine the Rocky Run area where the liquid was released.
"Yes, we are aware of that incident, but we haven't been able to get a whole lot of samples," Cosco said. "We can't get close enough yet. ... As of (Friday) morning, the gas levels in the immediate area were too high for our folks be able to ... take samples of the stream."

Below are a few post-spill follow-up articles:


Thanks Fitz! And a Response to the Opposition

Special thanks to Tom Fitzgerald of the Kentucky Resources Council, for working with Senator Jimmy Higdon and many others to make this happen!

Thanks to all in our network who contacted senators to remind them of the importance of this resolution.



A video of the Senate session can be viewed at this link. The pipeline discussion starts at 16:00 minutes in and lasts about 12 minutes. We can see there was strong bipartisan support (and also some confusion that this is natural gas pipeline).

However, it is clear that we still have work to do.  Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, called on lawmakers to use caution when regulating energy pipelines, which he said can help boost energy independence. It concerned me that the Senator referenced ALEC in his statement. If you don't know what ALEC is, and you're a citizen, you need to learn more about this organization.

The Bluegrass Pipeline is NOT a natural gas pipeline.  Our representatives should not be misled by the Williams Company's public relations practice of repeatedly using the term "natural gas" in their literature and video messages.  


In fact, the Courier Journal reported that the repurposing of some existing actual natural gas lines in order to complete the Bluegrass Pipeline will cause at least one large power company, American Energy Power in Indiana to LOSE natural gas. It will cause citizens to LOSE energy.  This company uses natural gas to generate electricity for many customers in Indiana.  How, exactly, does taking energy away from citizens result in energy independence for the US?


It is NOT a utility.  Most Natural Gas Liquids are NOT the same as the gas used to heat homes and most are NOT a primary source of energy.  It is true that propane is an NGL. Propane is used for heating.  We question why the company chooses to transport propane to the Gulf of Mexico rather than distributing it to customers if US Energy independence is the actual goal.  The fact is, the Williams Company website used to have a graphic on its website that showed the pipeline terminating in the Gulf with a large blue arrow pointing into the ocean labeled EXPORT.  We will retrieve and post that graphic here soon-stay tuned.  Again, how will EXPORTING increase US energy independence?


We believe that the only logical business purpose for EXPORTING propane could be to reduce the supply in the US because it is so plentiful.  EXPORTING propane will help keep prices up in the US.  It is basic economics---supply vs demand. Wendell Hunt, a Williams Company representative publicly stated in a meeting in Versailles, KY (which we recorded) that price stabilization is a goal of this project.  How is this serving citizens?  It is most certainly serving investors and not rural customers.


“While I don’t object to the Public Service Commission having a hand in this, let’s not paint all these companies that are trying to help us with our energy future with such a black brush,” Harris said.


We are not attempting to "paint all these companies...with a black brush."  We're concerned with one company right now....the Williams Company, whose safety record is here.  They've painted themselves.


In his statement in the KET video, Senator Harris stated that customers could potentially "tap" into the pipeline in the future.  

For any industry in Kentucky to "tap" into this pipeline, a petrochemical processing plant would have to be built first to separate and process the NGLs before they could be used.  One such currently planned petrochemical plant in the Middle East will cost billions of dollars to build.  

Logically, what company would invest that much money in a petrochemical plant in Kentucky to serve just a few customers? It would be economic suicide.  Further, even if a petrochemical plant were to be built, there would be a need for additional specialty plants to use the separated, processed NGLs and do further processing and manufacturing to meet the specifications of industries that would use them.  Contrary to what the company would have us believe, Toyota couldn't simply hook up to this line and use the products out of it.  If the senator is aware of plans to build a petrochemical plant and dedicated processing plants somewhere near Toyota, the public would like to know about it.

Meanwhile, West Virginia is working diligently to try to build a petrochemical plant.  If that were to happen, NGLs could be processed in the central US without EXPORT.  This would create long-term US jobs. 

Logically, if the pipeline is built or that "other pipeline is repurposed, the chances of West Virginia getting their plant could be reduced.  Most likely, the NGLs would not be diverted from this pipeline to serve their needs.  After all, since the Williams Company owns petrochemical plants in Louisiana,  (like the Geismar Plant--which had a history of non-compliance and leaks prior to its fatal explosion in June, 2013) why would they divert their NGLs to a competitor?  Further, why would any invested company have their NGLs processed in the US when they can be EXPORTED for production in other countries with fewer regulations and lower paid workers?  (Again, this is about money--not US interests.)  The resulting products would then be shipped back to the US and sold at an even greater cost to citizens and US-based companies.

[Editorial comment-My personal opinion is that this is a bad idea too.  I prefer sustainability and protection of our environment...however, since corporations' interests seem to outweigh environmental concerns in some politician's decision-making, it is important that this discussion be entertained. Apologies to my environmental friends.  Politicians of all stripes need to consider the emerging evidence that most corporations' decisions are dictated by profits for their investors--not by an altruistic desire to support US interests.  They can and will exploit citizens' rights, the environment, and even taxpayer funded resources such as police, emergency response, military, FEMA, Homeland Security, and any other services to support their agenda.  And "We the People" are tired of it.  After all, we pay more taxes than they do.]  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fracking Boom Slouching Toward Bust

The bad news just keeps leaking, like methane through a bad well casing. Former Mobil Oil VP Louis W. Allstadt, who spent his career running oil production operations and company mergers,now speaks on behalf of anti-fracking resistance groups, pointing to studies revealing that compromised casings (and resulting instances of water contamination) are far more common than the industry claims.  Meanwhile Los Angeles Times has uncovered documents showing that the EPA has systematically ignored evidence of environmental harms from fracking, choosing not to publicize or act on data collected by its own staff.  Read on....

Groundwater Contamination May End the Gas-Fracking Boom

In Pennsylvania, the closer you live to a well used to hydraulically fracture underground shale for natural gas, the more likely it is that your drinking water is contaminated with methane. This conclusion, in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA in July, is a first step in determining whether fracking in the Marcellus Shale underlying much of Pennsylvania is responsible for tainted drinking water in that region.
Robert Jackson, a chemical engineer at Duke University, found methane in 115 of 141 shallow, residential drinking-water wells. The methane concentration in homes less than one mile from a fracking well was six times higher than the concentration in homes farther away. Isotopes and traces of ethane in the methane indicated that the gas was not created by microorganisms living in groundwater but by heat and pressure thousands of feet down in the Marcellus Shale, which is where companies fracture rock to release gas that rises up a well shaft.  Read on...

Elevated levels of radioactive elements found at Louisiana sinkhole site

Louisiana massive sinkhole gets bigger every day and gas bubbles have been located now in thirteen sites on the bayous around Ground Bayou. After a section of pipeline in the slurry area became bent, officials asked natural gas companies operating near the sinkhole to depressurize pipelines. Meanwhile, Crosstex Energy of Dallas has started moving 1.5 million barrels of liquid butane from a storage cavern near the sinkhole.  And they want to store NGLs in a salt dome in Kentucky? Read more...   Watch a grove of trees get sucked under the water by the sink hole.

Sister Claire Shares What We All Feel Today - Appreciation for Leadership

Dear Senators,
 
In the name of Kentuckians all along the route of the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline, and of our entire state, I write to express my deepest gratitude for your choice to co-sign Senator Higdon's resolution to protect our state from abuse of eminent domain and from unscrutinized siting and absence of regulation for this misguided and frightening project of the Williams Company.
 
In an age when government is widely scorned and often ineffective, your co-sponsorship followed by the passage of the resolution today by the full Kentucky Senate is a breath of fresh air and of hope for our people, our state, and our world.  May we Kentuckians continue to work together on essential bi-partisan efforts such as this and thereby demonstrate to our weary nation that the embers of democracy still burn  and can become again a light for our world.
 
Very gratefully,
 
Sister Claire McGowan OP

Is There Enough Demand For Two Natural Gas Liquids Pipelines Through Kentucky?

Call it the Battle of the Pipelines.  For the past two months, WFPL has been reporting on the Bluegrass Pipeline—a proposal to build a new natural gas liquids pipeline across Kentucky and Ohio to connect existing infrastructure. Now, another company has announced plans to repurpose an existing natural gas line across the Commonwealth for the same type of materials.

Hardin County Potential Pipeline Routes

Attached are the survey markers with red, white and blue flags in the areas around Glendale, Cecelia, and Stephensburg.  The black line represents a potential route, however we recommend putting some buffer on these as the markers with red, white flags may be marking general areas they are working in.  Pink flags seem to mark actual routes as they are usually on both sides of the road and actual routes through fields.  

Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition Plans Bluegrass Pipeline Rally

Next Friday (August 30th) the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition is planning on having a rally outside the capitol in Frankfort, KY against the proposed bluegrass pipeline. The rally is the first event for their KY Pre-Power Shift Convergence happening that weekend. It will be geared towards young people against the pipeline but everyone is more than welcome to attend!
More info can be found on their webpage  and facebook events at hashtag #NoBGpipeline Rally and  KY Pre-Power Shift Convergence.

Known Pendleton County Pipeline Surveys and/or Requests to Survey

Thank You Senators!

A HUGE THANK YOU to Senator Higdon and to the co-sponsors of the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline resolution 25- 
Senators Julian Carroll, (Anderson, Fayette, Woodford, Franklin Co), Tom Buford (Boyle, Fayette, Garrard, Jessamine Cos), Perry Clark (Jefferson Co), Paul Hornback (Bullitt, Shelby, Spencer Cos), 
John Schickel (Boone, Gallatin, Kenton Cos) Robin Webb (Bracken, Carter, Greenup, Lewis, Mason, Robertson co,
Carroll Gibson (Breckinridge, Grayson, Hancock, Hart, Larue, Meade Dennis Parrett ( Hardin, Jefferson Co)!

Photo of the Day - Watch Out Larue Co. Here They Come

As we've been tracking movement of the potential pipeline route based on home owner reports, our resident cartographer has been creating helpful maps to let people know what may be coming their way.  Please note, that our maps are approximations based on what information individuals share with us.  The map below shows a possible shift in the line based on new survey requests in the Larue County area.

Kentucky Senate Passes Resolution Urging Further Study of Bluegrass Pipeline Project

The Kentucky State Senate passed a resolution on natural gas liquids pipelines, spurred by recent surveying in Kentucky on the Bluegrass Pipeline this morning calling for oversight and no use of eminent domain by the company.  If it's built, the Bluegrass Pipeline project would carry natural gas liquids from the Northeast to the Gulf of Mexico. Natural gas liquids are the byproduct of natural gas drilling, and contain materials like propane and ethane. The project utilizes a lot of existing infrastructure, but about 500 miles across Kentucky and Ohio would be new construction, which has met opposition from residents.

Washington County Meeting a Resounding Success!

Over 130 attended last night's meeting in Springfield.  There was great coverage on Lexington TV of the meeting at St. Rose School. Thanks to Victor Puente, St. Rose, Reverend Hayes, the speakers, Dorothy Logsdon, Joyce Hamilton, Sr. Kathy Wright, Mr. Mike McCain, George Graves, Tom Fitzgerald, Senator Jimmy Higdon, the Sisters of Loretto, and the many others who helped in organizing this important session!  Our message is getting out there wider and wider!  See the story here: 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Higdon, Gibson, and Parrett Introduce Resolution

Today Senator Jimmy Higdon introduced Senate Resolution 25 related to the Bluegrass Pipeline. The language is pasted below. Senators Carroll Gibson (whose district includes Larue and Breckinridge counties) and David Parrett (Hardin County) are cosponsors.

It is likely to be voted on Friday morning. The Senate goes into session at 9 a.m.
A quick read of the resolution shows one important change from the suggested language that Fitz sent to Sen. Higdon. Specifically, it removed a request that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers require a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement. Instead, SR 25 states "That the Public Service Commission is urged to examine this issue closely, determine what agencies have oversight responsibility, and, if there are gaps, take immediate action to fill those gaps;" I'm not sure the PSC has authority to "fill those gaps" but I'm sure we'll learn more about this.

If folks want to call their senators to urge them to vote for the resolution you should do so before 9 a.m. by
1)  calling 502-564-8100 and asking for your senator and you will be connected with their office.
2)  calling the toll-free Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181 and leaving a message for your senator.

HOUSE RESOLUTION 25

A RESOLUTION regarding the siting and construction of natural gas liquids pipelines.

WHEREAS, private business concerns have proposed constructing a pipeline through Kentucky to transport natural gas liquids from Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to facilities in Louisiana; and

WHEREAS, these plans have revealed gaps in government oversight of siting, public safety, and environmental concerns; and

WHEREAS, the potential effects on public health, safety and the environment of leakage, fire, explosion, or terrorist acts should be fully considered and avoided or minimized; and

WHEREAS, Kentucky landowners in the path of this project may be subject to condemnation actions, and

WHEREAS, eminent domain should be reserved for utilities and other projects that serve Kentuckians directly;

NOW, THEREFORE,
Be it resolved by the Senate of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

Section 1.   That the Public Service Commission is urged to examine this issue closely, determine what agencies have oversight responsibility, and, if there are gaps, take immediate action to fill those gaps;

Section 2.   That the entities engaged in property acquisition are urged to negotiate with landowners and reach agreement without any use or threat of condemnation;

Section 3.   That the Clerk of the Senate is directed to transmit a copy of this Resolution to the Executive Director of the Public Service Commission, to Williams Companies, and to Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP.

T-Shirts Available at Tonight's Washington County Meeting

Sr. Claire will bring a small number of Stop the Pipeline t-shirts to tonight's meeting at St. Rose School in Springfield.  They are $8 in person, $15 if you order online.  

Pipeline Projects Draw Fire in Several States

While the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline through the Great Plains has grabbed most of the headlines and remains on hold while President Obama ponders a decision on it, several other pipeline projects are garnering local and national attention as opposition to them continues to grow and questions are raised about the need for them all.

Landowners Informational Meeting in Corinth - Friday, August 31

A community meeting by Kentuckians for Kentuckians will be held Friday night in Corinth.  Come and hear important information the pipeline company will not share with you.  Details:

BLUE GRASS PIPELINE INFORMATIONAL MEETING FOR LANDOWNERS
DATE: FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013
TIME: 6:00 – 8:00 P.M.
LOCATION: THREE SPRINGS CAMPGROUND, 595 SAYLORS POINT ROAD, CORINTH, KY 41010
FOR DIRECTIONS CALL: (859) 806-3030
FOR INFORMATION CALL: (859) 351-9867

Andy Barr Holds Town Hall in Versailles, KY Tonight! Great Networking Opportunity

LEXINGTON – Congressman Andy Barr will be hosting a Sixth District Town Hall Meeting in Versailles on August 22nd.  The meeting is the latest in a series of town hall meetings and "Meet Your Congressman" events that Barr has been holding across the Sixth District as part of his Accessibility Initiative.

“Town halls are a great way for me to let the people of Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional know what’s going on in Washington,” said Barr.  “But more importantly, this town hall serves as a forum for people to come ask me questions or share their ideas and opinions.  I encourage folks to attend this event and look forward to seeing everyone there.”

Congressman Barr will take questions and address important issues for Kentucky and the nation at this event.  The information is also listed on Congressman Barr’s official website, Facebook,  and Twitter pages.
What:           Town Hall Meeting with Congressman Andy Barr
Date:            August 22, 2013
Time:           6:00 PM
Location:      Kentucky Community and Technical College System
                     (KCTCS)Conference Center
                     Room 102 A & B
                     300 North Main Street
                    Versailles, KY 40383

The event is open to the public and press. 

Governors' and Peters' Salary are the Real Waste of Taxpayer Dollars; Not Citizens Asking the Government To Do Its Job

In response to our many letters, calls and petitions, this is the unacceptable response form letter individuals are receiving from Leonard K. Peters, Secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet.  Read our response below:

Dear Ms. ___________: 

Governor Beshear asked that I respond to your email regarding your concerns about the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. Many people are requesting that state government intercede to stop construction of the pipeline.

The proposed project has created a great deal of concern and inquiry, and we understand that some Kentuckians are anxious about what this potential project may mean for their homes and property. My office in the Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) has received a number of similar letters, and I assure you, we are reading all correspondence. We respond to each letter and try to address specific concerns.

Our nation is experiencing an unprecedented boom in natural gas production from shale fields in many other states. Transportation of the high-value and much demanded natural gas liquids is a very recent activity. Comprehensive statutory and regulatory oversight has not yet been developed.

We have a great challenge before us as a state and as a nation concerning how to address these potential developments. A successful plan will include a vigorous public policy process to ensure all sides’ interests and points of view are taken into account. This process should be given appropriate time and deliberation to avoid short-sighted decisions or unintended consequences. Given the attention this possible project has attracted, it is clear that more discussion is needed among many parties before implementing new policies or laws.

The EEC’s current authority with this type of activity is limited to reviewing any applicable permits to make sure a company complies with existing environmental laws and regulations. The EEC does not have the authority to stop this type of project outright. However, we are looking at our statutes and regulations to see if there are areas that need to be made more robust. We are also in conversations with other agencies in state government to look at possible policy and regulatory changes to address the concerns of citizens and the desires of business entities wishing to transport products via pipeline.

It’s imperative that all of us understand the pros and cons of shipping such products as natural gas liquids, which are important commodities resulting from natural gas extraction and which will be in increasing demand throughout the country. As with many industrial activities and activities associated with energy production and use, we as a society have to recognize there are often competing interests that need to be thoughtfully addressed.

Thank you,

Leonard K. Peters, Secretary
Energy and Environment Cabinet
Peters, Len (EEC Cabinet Secretary) Len.Peters@ky.gov"


Our Response:  

Dear Governor Beshear:

I have received a response from Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Peters, to my email to you regarding my concerns about the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. I did not request that state government intercede to stop construction of the pipeline, as Secretary Peters suggested in his response.  What I asked was that you place the issue of pipeline siting and eminent domain on the special session call. 

am writing to renew that request, since time is of the essence, and the project proponents could make attempts to condemn property and begin sitting the pipeline before the General Assembly could act in 2014.

Secretary Peter’s letter noted that “comprehensive statutory and regulatory oversight has not yet been developed” to address transportation of natural gas liquids, and that the agency’s role is limited but that “we are looking at our statutes and regulations to see if there are areas that need to be made more robust.” With due respect, the agency response is inadequate at best, and disingenuous at worst.  In 2003, the Kentucky General Assembly amended KRS 353.500(2) and charged your agency with the mandate to develop regulations covering “all aspects of oil and gas exploration, production, 
development, gathering, and transmission” and to “take all actions necessary to assure efficient oil and gas operations and to protect the property, health, and safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth.”  

The Energy and Environment Cabinet has done nothing during that intervening decade to implement that regulatory mandate, other than to adopt the regulations on gathering lines because there was a 6-month deadline imposed by law.
Ten years is far too long to wait for the Executive Branch to do what it was charged to do by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2003 – namely to regulate all aspects of oil and gas, including transmission, in order to protect the health, safety, and property of the citizens of the Commonwealth.  

I renew my request, Governor, that you call a special session to address hazardous liquids pipeline siting and to limit eminent domain powers.  Additionally, emergency regulations governing pipeline transmission of hazardous liquids should be developed and adopted, lest this and any other new or repurposed natural gas liquids pipeline be constructed and placed into service without adequate environmental, health, and safety oversight.