LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A company planning to build a natural gas pipeline in Kentucky says it has secured land-use deals in parts of nine counties along the pipeline's proposed path.
Officials with the Bluegrass Pipeline say they have reached easement agreements with private landowners in nine of the 13 counties along the proposed route. The entire 500-mile pipeline route also stretches through Ohio and Pennsylvania.
A spokesman for the Williams Co. of Oklahoma, one of the energy firms behind the project, said he did not know how many miles of the proposed route in Kentucky have been secured.
The path would bypass two properties owned by Roman Catholic communities in central Kentucky. Last month, the company said it would stay well north of the 780-acre tract in Marion County owned by the Sisters of Loretto. Williams spokesman Tom Droege said Tuesday that the company is looking for a route around the 2,500-acre property owned by the Abbey of Gethsemani in Nelson County. Droege said the monks who live at the abbey have refused to allow surveyors on their land.
``We've respected their wishes and pursued other routes,'' Droege said.
The company is expecting to spend $30 million to $50 million on the 50-foot wide easements purchases in Kentucky, according to an informational letter from Williams Co. manager Rob Hawksworth that was given to The Associated Press.
The company is also currently securing easements in Ohio, Droege said.
The sisters in Marion County have joined environmental groups and local residents in opposing the project, which would build a 24-inch thick underground pipeline to carry natural gas liquids from the northeast to an existing connection in Kentucky that runs to the Gulf of Mexico. The liquids are a byproduct of the natural gas refining process that is used to make consumer products such as plastics and carpet.
Tom Fitzgerald, director of the Kentucky Resource Council, an environmental lobbying group, said landowners who are considering an easement deal should consult an attorney first.
``You will inevitably regret it if you sign on the dotted line before you have a chance to consider a number of issues that are involved in allowing a pressurized hazardous materials pipeline to be installed on your property,'' Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said signing an easement deal could have tax implications and may affect a property owner's mortgage agreement and insurance.
Last month, state officials declared during a hearing before a legislative committee that the pipeline builders would not be allowed to invoke eminent domain law if certain landowners along the proposed route are unwilling to cooperate. Company officials maintained that businesses do have the authority to use the law to obtain right of way if necessary.
The company has said the easement deals would be one-time payments to landowners.