Bluegrass Pipeline bill clears House committee - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bluegrass Pipeline bill clears House committee

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Opponents of the Bluegrass Pipeline scored a victory at the Ky. state Capitol today.

A House committee has passed a bill designed to protect property owners in the pipeline's path.

The House Judiciary Committee passed HB 31. The bill, in essence, prohibits the owners of pipelines that carry natural gas liquids, such as the Bluegrass Pipeline, from using eminent domain to acquire property. In short, property owners could not be forced to sell.

Once again, a standing-room-only crowd packed the hearing room as property owners voiced their fears about losing land to the Bluegrass Pipeline.

"I should have a say whether I want this natural gas liquids pipeline to come through my property," said Cindy Foster of Scott County.

"So, I'm here today as a citizen, a voter, and a landowner asking for your protection," testified Susan Goddard of Woodford County.

But for the first time, the crowd also included pipeline supporters who said they were members of a labor union of pipeline workers. They did not testify, nor did they comment after the vote.

The bill's sponsors tried to assure them that the bill should not cost jobs.

"They're just going to have to come to an agreement with landowners or go around the landowners that don't want to have to do it. It's not going to kill jobs," said Rep. David Floyd (R-Bardstown).

It was not unanimous, but the committee passed the bill.

"I feel that a person's property rights is one of the highest rights that we have in this country, so I vote 'yes' on that," said Rep. Johnny Bell (D-Glasgow).

And the committee chairman emphasized that the bill is not about stopping the pipeline.

"The project moved through Ohio without any eminent domain rights at all, so this does not kill the project," said Rep. John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville).

But property owners say they're pleased with the outcome.

"It's just going to mean that they can't put it on someone's land unless that person wants it on their land," said Bob Pekny.

"What this means is they're going to have to work a little harder and probably part with a little more of their money," added Pekny's wife, Deb.

The bill now goes to the full House. There could be some changes made. But committee chairman John Tilley says he will accept nothing that changes the bill's intent.

A Bluegrass Pipeline spokesperson tells WDRB that oversight of current laws is already adequate, and that singling out natural gas liquid pipelines is unnecessary.

Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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