Saturday, March 29, 2014

Monday Is Last Day to Pass a Bill!

Please call & ask your friends and family to call the legislature!

Call the legislative telephone line now at:  1-800-372-7181
Leave the message for all senators. 
"Protect property rights! Vote YES on Senator Higdon's floor amendments to House Bill 573."

Also, we especially need help from the following counties.  If you live in these counties or know people who do, please make contact this weekend at the phone numbers listed below.  Ask these representatives to support Senator Higdon's HB 573 and only his floor amendments:
 
District 25: Clay, Knox, Lee, Owsley, Whitley, Wolfe
Sen. Robert Stivers (R)
Senate President
home: Manchester, KY phone: 606-598-8575


District 24: Bracken, Campbell, Pendleton
Sen. Katie Kratz Stine (R)
President Pro Tempore
home: Southgate, KY phone: 859-781-5311


District 17: Grant, Kenton, Scott
Sen. Damon Thayer (R)
Majority Floor Leader
home: Georgetown, KY phone:


District 38: Bullitt, Jefferson County
Sen. Dan Seum (R)
Majority Caucus Chair
home: Fairdale, KY phone: 502-749-2859


District 30: Bell, Breathitt, Johnson, Leslie, Magoffin, Perry
Sen. Brandon Smith (R)
Majority Whip
home: Hazard, KY phone: 606-436-4526

Friday, March 28, 2014

Comment Period Extended on Kentucky's Texas Gas Pipeline


The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has announced that it is extending the public comment period on the abandonment and repurposing of the Kentucky portion of the Texas Gas Transmission, LLC pipeline. 


The deadline for comments has been extended to April 29, 2014.  It is important for FERC to hear your concerns about this project.
 While most of our focus on this page has centered on the new construction of the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline, the completed project would actually span from Pennsylvania to Louisiana.  Much of this line would be using "converted" existing lines.  

In Kentucky, this portion is called the Texas Gas Transmission, LLC pipeline.  This pipeline runs through the southwestern part of Kentucky and Tennessee and on down to Louisiana.

Currently, it carries natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico to markets in the Midwest.  It actually serves as a utility.  It was originally constructed using the right of eminent domain because of its public purpose.  If FERC approves of its abandonment and repurposing, it will no longer be used to serve the public.  

Instead, it will be used to  transport NGLs (natural gas liquids) from the Marcellus and Utica shales in PA and WV to the Gulf for chemical manufacturing and export.  It will not provide service to the public.

Because it is already in the ground, and the easements were acquired by the gas company decades ago, people who currently live along this line will have little or no voice in the conversion--other than to provide comments to FERC. (More on that later...)

This conversion project will also require 2 new crossings of the Mississippi and new terrain pipe in Arkansas in Crittendon and Mississippi Counties.






The portion of pipeline that would be repurposed in Kentucky is illustrated below.  The red dot marks the approximate location of where the Bluegrass would join the Texas line.  As you can see, the existing line follows the western border of the state through the New Madrid Seismic zone.  The area made recent news when a gas explosion rocked a small community in Adair County, and auto aficionados worldwide wept as massive sinkhole swallowed eight expensive Corvettes.



The line is owned by Boardwalk Pipelines and is estimated to be 55 to 60 years old.  It is most likely constructed of cast iron, as were most U.S. gas lines of that period.  Studies in cities such as Washington, D.C. are suggesting that pipelines of this vintage are notoriously leaky and are not structurally sound for natural gas, much less, high pressure NGLs.  

We have been working to gather comments to send to FERC and have asked for a comprehensive environmental  assessment (EA) to be conducted before this pipeline is approved for abandonment and repurposing.

However, your voice is needed.  You may submit your comments to FERC here: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ferconline.asp

And because we all know how government portals are, here are some instructions.  

More to come.  Hopefully we can make this easier.

 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday Night Strategy Message

 Call the legislative telephone line now at:  1-800-372-7181
          Leave the message for all senators. 
"Protect property rights! Vote YES on Senator Higdon's floor amendments to House Bill 573." 

Please check back periodically for updates.  We appreciate your patience with the process.   

URGENT! Protect property rights! Vote YES for Floor Amendment #1 on House Bill 573


Call the legislative telephone line now at 1-800-372-7181

Tell ALL Senators - Protect property rights! Vote YES for Floor Amendment #1 on House Bill 573!!!

                   Things are changing minute by minute...Here is the latest.... Stay Tuned!

Because HB 31 has not yet been assigned to a committee, Sen. Higdon is attempting to bypass the committee process and force a vote of the full Senate on property rights. Senate Floor Amendment 1 to House Bill 573 is the same as Senate Bill 14, and says eminent domain is limited to utilities regulated by the Public Service Commission. This is consistent with the court ruling. HB 573 is a bill about the Public Service Commission that passed the House on Tuesday, 62-34.

Please note, HB 573 also has not yet been assigned to a committee in the Senate, and it's possible if Senate leaders want to avoid a vote on property rights, that they will let HB 573 die. Sen. Higdon is trying to force the issue, and HB 573 is a bill expected to have the support of Sen. Stivers. So the strategy may change again before the end of the session.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Now? Back to Work!

The news of the decision against the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline made headlines and impacts from Wall Street to Bakken shale country.  Those of us here in the real Bluegrass reveled a bit and then immediately went back to work on the multiple layers of advocacy and action we are taking to support Kentuckians' property rights.  This is not over, and we still need your help.

As you know, we still have a bill in the Senate, and we are asking you to continue making calls and contacts.  Even if you have already called and written, we ask that you continue to spread the word and encourage your contacts to do the same.  Remember that while the capitol may appear quiet on the outside, right now, perhaps at this very moment, there is an army of highly paid lobbyists at work using every angle they can to take away your right to say no to this pipeline.

Company representatives are busily making hefty contributions, and probably providing other perks as well, to many of your representatives to try to influence their votes.

Several legislators have attempted to tack on floor amendments that would weaken our bill and Kentucky property owners' rights.

For these reasons we need you to send a strong message to Kentucky's Senators urging them to act in the interest of landowners.


Call the legislative telephone line now at 1-800-372-7181


Leave a message for all Senators:
  • Ask them to move HB 31 through committee.  
  • Tell them you want HB 31 only.  
  • You do not want floor amendment 8.  
  • You do not want any additional floor amendments at all.
  • If HB 31 cannot be passed without amendment 8, then you do not want HB 31 to be passed at all.  
Some legislators are actively working against this bill because they support corporate interests over your property rights. For this reason, your calls are extremely important right now.  If we do not get enough calls, the bill won’t move forward.  

Thank you again for all you do.  United We Stand!

Does the Lawsuit Affect You?

We are grateful for Judge Phillip Shepherd's favorable ruling in our suit against the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline.  His careful consideration of the facts of our case gave underdogs a voice and a chance to keep the land rights they have worked for without the fear of condemnation by a private corporation not in public service.  Some have contacted us wanting to know how this ruling affects them.  If you are a property owner who has signed an easement, or if you do not want to sign an easement, the ruling may have positive implications for you.

At this time, the ruling is binding only in Franklin County.  However, it may offer some persuasive influence in any lawsuits that could be filed in other counties.  To fully evaluate how this may impact your rights, contact a trusted attorney for evaluation of your situation.

We cannot and will not rest until this matter is firmly resolved.  Pipeline representatives have indicated their plan to appeal Judge Shepherd's ruling.  We intend to meet that challenge.  If we prevail at the appeal, the decision will be binding statewide.  

In the interim, if you live outside of Franklin County and you are threatened with condemnation, please contact us.  

If you already signed an easement, and you did so believing that the pipeline had eminent domain rights, you may want to consider contacting your attorney if you are having second thoughts.  If you were misled or were not given full market value for your property rights, you may want to consider speaking with your attorney.

Franklin Co. Judge Rules Against Eminent Domain for Bluegrass Hazardous Liquids Pipeline

It's safe to say that after nearly a year of seeking protection from threats of condemnation by a private corporation not in public service, the real bluegrass slept a little better Tuesday night.

Bluegrass Pipeline, LLC cannot use eminent domain to take private property for construction of a natural gas liquids pipeline through Kentucky, a Franklin Circuit judge ruled. 

Judge Phillip Shepherd held that the power of eminent domain is "an essential attribute of a sovereign government" that cannot be delegated to a private company such as Bluegrass Pipeline "without a clear legislative mandate that such a delegation is in the public interest."
ad more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/03/25/3160754/franklin-judge-firm-cannot-use.html#storylink=cpy

The ruling was a victory for Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain, or KURE, a citizens group that asked the court last year to clarify whether Bluegrass Pipeline had the power to use eminent domain.  Read more...



Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/03/25/3160754/franklin-judge-firm-cannot-use.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Great Job Everyone! Victory in Sight - More Work to Do on House Bill 31!

We Need the Voice of Every Kentuckian to Help Protect ALL Citizens' Property Rights from Corporate Abuse of Eminent Domain

To all of you who have helped protect Kentucky and who have helped us make it this far, Thank You!  We could not have made it this far without every single one of you helping.  We are nearly there, and victory is in sight.  However, we cannot yet stop to rest.  There are a few more things we need for you to do this weekend.

House Bill 31 is expected to be assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, which must hear and vote on the bill for it to move to the Senate floor.

There are four specific things we ask you to do:

1.  Contact Senators at home this weekend.  Please also call EVERYONE you can and ask them to do the same.  We need support from every county in the state because this legislation will impact everyone.  Even if the pipeline would not go through your county, there is a very strong likelihood you will be affected in the future if private companies are allowed to misuse eminent domain.  When you reach out to others about this, please suggest that they also call their contacts.  Suggestions to call:
  • Family, Friends & Neighbors
  • Co-Workers
  • Church Groups
  • Civic Organizations
  • Clubs
  • College and University Alumni
  • Student Groups
  • Businesses & Professionals and Related Organizations
Three Things to Say to Your Senator:  
  • “Please support property rights by voting yes to HB 31."
  • Ask the Senate leadership to bring up the bill for a vote." 
  • Please vote "No" on Floor Amendment 8."

Find your Senator’s contact info here: 
http://www.lrc.ky.gov/whoswho/county.htm. 

Three Things to Say to Your Personal Contacts:
  • "Please call your Senators and ask them to "support property rights by voting "Yes" on HB 31."
  • "Please also ask the Senators to bring up the bill to Senate leadership so that the Senate can vote on it."
  • "Ask your Senator to vote "No" on Floor Amendment 8."

2.  Contact Senate President Robert Stivers.  Ask him to "support property rights by ensuring HB31 is quickly heard in committee and brought to the Senate floor for vote.” Mr. Stivers's Email address is: Robert.Stivers@lrc.ky.gov

3.  Contact Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer.  Ask him to “support property rights by ensuring HB31 is quickly heard in committee and brought to the Senate floor for vote.” Mr. Thayer's Email address is: Damon.Thayer@lrc.ky.gov

4.  Contact Senator Whitney Westerfield, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Ask him to “Bring HB 31 to committee this week and support its passage.” Mr. Westerfield's Email address is: Whitney.Westerfield@lrc.ky.gov


Thank you again for your support.  You are truly the best lobbyists money can't buy!  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Legislative Update - Call to Action - Protect Your Constitutional Property Rights

In the latest disturbing development in the Kentucky legislature, the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association and the Kentucky Manufacturer's Association are actively lobbying to take your property rights.

They have convinced some legislators to help them.  They've added floor amendment 6 to House Bill 31.  House leadership is reportedly refusing to pass HB 31 without amendment 6.  This is a serious problem, and here is why:

1.  Amendment 6 would allow the gas and oil industry to use eminent domain when constructing "gathering lines."  These lines are constructed for the purpose of extracting gas and oil from drilling.

2.  The gas and oil industry does not currently have the right of eminent domain in Kentucky for gathering lines.  

3.  While passage of HB 31 with Amendment 6 would stop the Bluegrass pipeline from using eminent domain against home owners, it would create a new and greater problem for Kentucky families.  It would give the industry the right to do this wherever they choose:



Listen to this Wyoming rancher explain why this is a bad thing:



         


Those of us who have worked hard to protect Kentucky families from this believe that Amendment 6 is wrong and unacceptable.

I personally believe that this is a blatant attempt by corporate special interests to destroy Kentuckians' constitutional rights.  

For these reasons, we are asking you to: 

Call the legislative line now at 800-372-7181 to leave a message for: 1.  Your own representative AND

2.  All other House members. 

Say:  Please support the committee substitute to House Bill 31 and floor amendment 5 only - NOT amendment 6.

You may also wish to say that you do not support ement domain for gathering lines.

What every Kentuckian must understand is that this issue is one that will impact everyone in the state.  

Please do not allow Kentucky's legislature to compromise your home and your family's safety.  Call today.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Your Property Rights Are Under Attack Now!

I know what you're thinking...I've been hounding you for months to act to protect Kentucky home and landowners' rights.  It has never been more important than it is right now for you to act!  If you do not act, you should know that you are opening up the door for any private company to lay claim on your home or land in Kentucky.  If you don't believe this could happen, you simply must understand that it can and will happen.  A year ago, I could never have imagined that my home would be targeted in this way, but it is.  

I believed in America, and I believed in our Constitutional rights.  I thought the government would protect us from this kind of thing.  I could not have been more wrong.  I believe now that it is possible for a private company to hijack our Constitution, exploit regulatory loopholes, and effectively destroy the American dream.  Further, the company believes it can too.  The fact that they are working so hard spending money on mailings, providing expensive buffet lunches at the capitol during the legislative session, hiring the governor's former law firm where his son still works, paying what appears to be a corporate shill of a "labor union" to lobby for them, and hiring call centers to spread misinformation throughout the state shows that the company too believes it can take your rights.  It will take your rights if you don't stop them.

The would-be builders of the Bluegrass hazardous liquids pipeline are deliberately misleading the public on this project.  Our contacts at the capitol's call center report that they are getting slammed with calls today from people from all over the state supporting Keystone XL and Bluegrass Pipeline and the jobs it would supposedly  bring.

The callers are being told by the company representatives that the Bluegrass Pipeline is part of Keystone XL--which is completely false.  Reportedly, the companies are allegedly paying telemarketers to contact Kentuckians and facilitate calls to the capitol.  They are telling people that Obama has approved Keystone, which is not accurate. 

Although we know people are being lied to in an effort to coerce them into supporting the pipeline (and this should be a crime) it may influence the opinions of legislators who have not taken the time to really investigate this matter.  Further, it is keeping legitimate callers from getting through.  One of our contacts had to call FOUR times just to get through.  This obstruction of justice must be stopped.

House Bill 31 is scheduled to be voted on by the full House this Monday, March 10Everyone needs to call 1-800-372-7181 and 564-8100 and ask that all House members receive a message that House Bill 31 should be supported without any floor amendments and that this bill is about protecting landowners from the exercise of eminent domain by private companies and is NOT about jobs!  


Please call and forward this message to your contacts.  Share with family, friends, co-workers, and organizations you are a part of.  If we do not act and send a clear message to Frankfort, the precedent for private companies that are not providing service to the public to take your home and property rights will be set!


Kentucky needs your help now to protect property rights!  House Bill 31 is scheduled to be voted on by the full House this Monday, March 10Everyone needs to call 1-800-372-7181 and (502) 564-8100 and ask that all House members receive a message that House Bill 31 should be supported without any floor amendments and that this bill is about protecting landowners from the exercise of eminent domain by private companies and is NOT about jobs!