Kentucky Supreme Court won't consider Bluegrass Pipeline challenge
The high court on Wednesday denied a review sought by the developers of the Bluegrass Pipeline, which proposed carrying natural gas liquids in a new line through Kentucky and other states. Two lower courts had ruled that the pipeline company can't use eminent domain to seize private land.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Kentucky Supreme Court won’t consider a challenge to a lower court’s ruling that bars private pipeline companies from using eminent domain.
The high court on Wednesday denied a review sought by the developers of the Bluegrass Pipeline, which proposed carrying natural gas liquids in a new line through Kentucky and other states. As part of the project, pipeline officials threatened condemnation of some private property along the route.
Not long after work on the pipeline was suspended in 2014, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd ruled that developer Bluegrass Pipeline Co. didn’t have the right under state law to use eminent domain. The company appealed.
The state Court of Appeals, in a 3-0 decision, upheld Shepherd’s ruling. In their opinion, the appeals court judges wrote that they believe “the legislature only intended to delegate the state’s power of eminent domain to those pipeline companies that are, or will be, regulated by the (Public Service Commission).”
Bluegrass Pipeline Co. then asked the state Supreme Court to review that ruling. Tom FitzGerald, an attorney representing Kentucky landowners who sued pipeline developers, said the high court’s decision not to review means “the case is final.”
With uncertainty about eminent domain lingering, Kentucky state Rep. David Floyd filed bills last month seeking to give only the government the power to condemn private land in the state and allowing private oil and gas firms to seize land for a pipeline only if it is for “public use.”
Floyd’s House Bill 213 also would prohibit Kentucky condemnation law from applying to projects carrying natural gas liquids. Besides the Bluegrass Pipeline, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. wants to ship those products across 256 miles in the state in a line that now carries natural gas from Louisiana to the northeast.
Tennessee Gas, an affiliate of Houston-based Kinder Morgan, would “repurpose” the pipe, add the liquids and send them south to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
Floyd, R-Bardstown, told WDRB News last month he would withdraw House Bill 213 if the Supreme Court declined to review the lower court’s ruling.
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