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Friday, September 06, 2013
Environment - "Bluegrass Pipeline developers can't use eminent domain, Kentucky officials say"
James Bruggers reports in the Louisville Courier Journal:
FRANKFORT, KY — The state’s top energy and environmental regulator said Thursday that developers of the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline have no authority to use the power of eminent domain to acquire easements.
Len Peters, secretary of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, told a panel of state lawmakers that his agency’s attorneys “do not see how eminent domain can be invoked” for the natural-gas liquids pipeline.
His legal council, Michael Haines, said that’s in part because natural-gas liquids pipelines are not considered “common carriers” and “public utilities.”
But the attorney for the pipeline developers disagreed.
Mike McMahon, chief general counsel of Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, part of the joint venture developing the pipeline, said it is a “public service” available to other businesses, which he said would make it a common carrier. * * *
While [Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council] also argued that state law would not give the developers eminent domain powers, he said the legal dispute could only be settled by the Kentucky General Assembly.
“It’s really something that needs to be clarified,” FitzGerald said after the nearly two-hour meeting. If the legislature does not clarify the matter, then it will be up the state’s courts to do so, he said.
In the meantime, he said, the company’s threats of using eminent domain gives the developers a big advantage. Landowners will think they need to settle, he said.
“Negotiations under threat of condemnation are inherently unfair,” FitzGerald said.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 6, 2013 08:25 AM
Posted to Environment