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EARLIER: Pipeline worries hit Shelby County

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Proposed route comes very close to southeast corner, could lapse into Harrisonville area

By Todd Martin

Concern about a pipeline being constructed from shale-drilling areas in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania has hit Shelby County.

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“I started getting phone calls on it about thirty days ago, and I was talking to Judge [Executive Rob] Rothenburger just last night and he said he got his first calls this week,” said Tony Carriss, the county magistrate for District 6, which is closest to the proposed pipeline construction.

The 500-mile Bluegrass Pipeline is being built as a partnership project between Williams, an energy infrastructure company, and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners and will connect to Boardwalk’s Texas Gas Transmission system in Hardinsburg.

The pipeline will ship natural gas liquids or NGL, which is separated from natural gas through processing or cycling plants. NGL includes propane, butane and ethane, among others, and is valuable as a separate product.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, NGLs are used in a variety of ways, including in the manufacturing of plastic bags, anti-freeze, detergent, home heating oils, synthetic rubber tires, refrigerant, gasoline, oil sands production and more.

Carriss said the safety of the line has been a major concern in conversations he has had and, many residents have wondered to him if the company could claim eminent domain for its route.

At a public meeting in Nelson County last month, representatives from Williams said they believe they have that right in Kentucky but are still awaiting a decision from the courts, according to a report from the meeting in the Kentucky Standard.

However, Rob Hawksworth, a Williams manager involved in land acquisition, said during the meeting that the company doesn’t want to go that route.

“In situations where Williams has had the right to use eminent domain, we have used that right very sparingly,” he said

Eminent domain gives legal authority to take private property for public use with fair market value awarded to the landowner. It is most commonly associated with government projects like roads.

The proposed line begins on the northwestern edge of Pennsylvania and stretches into Ohio with a branch line that runs into the northern portion of West Virginia.

The main line then continues through Ohio and across the Ohio River into Kentucky at Bracken County.

The map on the Bluegrass Pipeline Web site shows the 150-mile Kentucky stretch crossing 13 counties – including Franklin and Anderson counties, where it comes very close to the southeastern-most corner of Shelby County, near to the Graefenburg, Waddy, Harrisonville and Southville areas – before ending in Breckenridge County, where it meets up with the current line.

That route, while proposed, is not set.

“We’re still doing surveys now, and that’s going to help determine the final route,” said Sara Delgado, Williams’ senior communications specialist. “Nothing is set yet, this is just a proposed route.”

Williams’ land agents are not allowed to survey property without the landowner’s permission, and Delgado said that can cause some problems.

“Our land agents are talking to landowners along this proposed route. Once they get permission, we’ll begin surveys,” she said. “But getting permission often takes time.”

Land permission and other studies that will follow the surveys – Delgado mentioned environmental and archeological studies – will also determine the pipeline’s line.

“It can always change,” she said.

A request by The Sentinel-News for more information about the land agents and if they had contacted any land owners in Shelby County had received no response by deadline.

Carriss, however, said he was not aware of any residents in his district having been approached to allow a survey on Shelby County properties.

“I haven’t heard of anyone here, but I did hear that some Franklin County residents have been contacted,” he said. “But, as far as I know, there hasn’t been any pipeline talk here, yet.”