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Another Gas Pipeline Proposed in Kentucky

Public News Service and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

The alarm is ringing again for Kentuckians who already stopped one potentially hazardous pipeline project.

Public backlash plugged plans for the Bluegrass Pipeline, which included building 180 miles of new pipeline to help transport natural-gas liquids from the Northeast to the Gulf Coast. Now, less than a year later, another pipeline for the fracking industry is in the works - this time to repurpose the Tennessee Gas Pipeline to move natural gas liquids.

Environmental advocate Chris Schimmoeller called it "a far different beast" from natural gas.

"Natural-gas liquids are 150 times more explosive than natural gas," he said, "and they carry dangers that natural gas doesn't. For example, when they leak, the natural gas liquids are colorless and odorless."

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline system currently travels slightly more than 1,000 miles from Pennsylvania to Louisiana. Installed primarily in the 1950s, it runs 256 miles through 18 Kentucky counties. Campbellsville, Danville, Glasgow, Morehead and Richmond are among the towns near its path.

Energy conglomerates Kinder Morgan and MarkWest want to make the pipeline conversion to natural-gas liquids by 2017.

Marion County Judge Executive John Mattingly opposes the idea.

"Unless you have a refinery project or something that could harness and utilize those materials," he said, "it doesn't really offer local communities through which it passes anything positive."

With this second pipeline controversy brewing in Kentucky, citizens who united to stop the Bluegrass Pipeline are hosting a summit about fracking on Saturday in Lexington. Schimmoeller, one of the summit's organizers, said there will also be a focus on how to move away from fossil fuels.

"It's time to really look toward energies that can sustain us rather than destroy us slowly," he said, "which is what we are doing to ourselves."

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