LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Opponents of a plan to let an aging pipeline carry natural gas liquids through Kentucky continue to call on federal regulators to conduct a more thorough review of the project.

In recent months, a Central Kentucky economic development organization, a state Senator and a religious congregation all have asked for an “environmental impact statement” on the proposal by energy giant Kinder Morgan.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has gotten similar requests since it announced last year that it would conduct an “environmental assessment,” which is scheduled to be issued Sept. 2. Critics say that review lacks transparency and want a more comprehensive study.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., an affiliate of Houston-based Kinder Morgan, is seeking permission to abandon more than 950 miles of natural gas pipeline from Louisiana to Ohio. If approved, the company would then start shipping the liquids through the pipe.

The “repurposed” line would cover about 256 miles in Kentucky and cross through 18 Kentucky counties. Local governments in at least four counties have passed resolutions or expressed concerns about the plan.

The Boyle County and Danville governments, along with the area’s Economic Development Partnership, also have passed resolutions opposing the project and calling for the broader environmental study. Among other issues, local leaders and citizens have expressed concerns about the project’s impact on nearby Herrington Lake.

The line will cross under the lake, which provides drinking water for Danville and other communities in Central Kentucky.

The nine-member economic development group says in its resolution that an environmental impact statement, or EIS, would provide “extensive objective data,” such as how the project affects “drinking supplies.”

Board member Mark L. Morgan said the group asked Kinder Morgan to provide results of tests done on the World War II-era pipeline, but company officials declined. That information likely would be disclosed under an EIS, he said.

“An EIS process is much more detailed, much more comprehensive,” Morgan said. “It has more transparency. It puts all stakeholders on neutral footing so we can all assess the risks and benefits of this project.”

Citing the project’s possible dangers, the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville also have asked federal regulators to require an EIS. In a letter dated July 5, two members of the Roman Catholic group said they are alarmed by the pipeline’s age and the karst terrain through which it would pass.

“The repurposed pipeline would be a hazard to all of those along its path through all the affected counties,” wrote Sr. Agnes Coveney and Sr. Rita Ann Wiggington, co-chairs of the Ursuline Social Concerns Committee. 

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon, the Kentucky Senate’s Majority Whip, wrote in a June letter that an environmental impact statement is “a must.”

Higdon represents Marion County, one of the counties on the pipeline route. He previously raised objections about the age of the line.

In his letter, sent to federal regulators, Higdon reiterated his “serious concerns” about the project – but emphasized that he believes pipelines are a safe way to ship many substances.

“I consider myself a common-sense conservative, and I personally do not know enough about the potential long-term effects of this pipeline conversion, which is why I think we need to take a harder look via a full environmental impact study,” he wrote.

Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Melissa Ruiz declined to comment in detail because the company is still waiting on regulators to decide whether more environmental study is warranted.

“Without having received the Environmental Assessment, it would be hard for anyone to determine whether it is adequate,” she said in a statement.  “As such, we defer to the Commission’s judgment on this matter.”

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