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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Controversy surrounds a proposed Bluegrass Pipeline that would cut through 13 Kentucky counties: residents are upset about eminent domain -- and they're putting pressure on state leaders to stop the project.
Ads are touting the benefits that some say would come from the Bluegrass Pipeline. But outside the state capitol, local nuns, religious leaders and environmental activists are warning residents not to believe the ads. They're petitioning and protesting the project.
Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners are planning to build an 1,123-mile natural gas pipeline. The company has a proposed route through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. It would cut through 13 counties in Kentucky, including Franklin, Nelson, Larue, Hardin and Breckinridge counties.
Sister Claire McGowan, Dominican Sister of Peace from St. Catherine, Ky., presented a petition to Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear's office.
"This petition is signed by 36,250 residents of [the] state of Kentucky, and our nation," she told WDRB.
David Whitlock, the Pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church in Marion County, is also opposed to the project.
"If we keep feeding the fossil fuel industry in the way that we are, it won't get any better for our environment," Whitlock said.
The company says the pipeline will be buried 2-4 feet underground. It's expected to transport 200,000 - 400,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day from the eastern part of the U.S. to customers in the Gulf Coast. Some fear the pipeline will threaten homes and drinking water across the Commonwealth.
"The liquids that run through this pipeline...first of all. it's huge -- 24 inches," McGowan said. "I don't think there is any pipeline aside from water...another pipeline with hazardous liquids in Kentucky."
But the company says the project will be safe, combining new construction with an existing pipeline. It's expected to create 6,000 - 7,000 temporary jobs, and increase tax revenues for state, county and local governments.
"The few jobs gained is not worth the possibility of what that can do to our land, but to people, communities," Whitlock said.
Gov. Beshear issued a statement saying:
"The proposed Bluegrass Pipeline 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. We are monitoring this issue very closely, and the General Assembly is also gathering information on this matter. If we find that there is a need for state government to take action to increase protections for our landowners and for the protection of our environment, we will have adequate time to do so in the regular session that begins in January."
Williams and Boardwalk says it expects pipeline construction to start late next year with services starting in late 2015.
Two Kentucky lawmakers have also pre-filed bills for next year's General Assembly. They hope it will protect property owners from having their land seized for the project.