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Pipeline legislation clears Kentucky House Judiciary

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 27, 2014)  —  Private property could not be taken by eminent domain for the transport of natural gas liquids under a bill approved Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee.

The committee substitute to House Bill 31 approved by the committee would prohibit the taking of private land by eminent domain for the construction of a natural gas liquids pipeline, such as the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline that could possibly run through 13 Kentucky counties.

HB 31 is sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, and Rep. David Floyd, D-Bardstown.

“I think there are multiple reasons why there is legal justification and common sense justification” for excluding natural gas liquids from eminent domain powers, Tilley said. “The most overriding factor is that the statutes have never contemplated natural gas liquids. We have a new player in the game, essentially.”

Tilley said he would be open to amendments to the legislation on the House floor, where the bill is now headed.

Floyd clarified that the legislation will not “kill the Bluegrass Pipeline,” but that the pipeline builders “won’t be able to use eminent domain to condemn property from people who don’t want it to be done.”

The committee’s vote on HB 31 followed about three hours of public testimony in the House Judiciary Committee. One of those speaking against use of eminent domain for the Bluegrass Pipeline project was Scott County resident Cindy Foster, who told the committee that she was approached by a pipeline representative who told her land could be taken by eminent domain.

“Please, please think about us. It’s not about jobs today, it’s not about environmental impact. Today it’s about our rights,” Foster told the committee.

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