Perros: time for ‘serious conversation’ about combating Kinder Morgan pipeline plan

Published 8:13 am Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thanks to a recent approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, plans are moving forward for the repurposing of a natural gas pipeline that runs through Boyle County, despite years of strenuous objections from local leaders of all stripes.

Now, it’s time for those leaders to begin having a “serious conversation” about next steps in preventing the pipeline plan from becoming a reality, Danville Mayor Mike Perros said during a public meeting Wednesday.

Perros, who spoke during the monthly meeting of the local Economic Development Partnership, got the topic of Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline No. 1 put on the agenda for the next EDP meeting in November.

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“My head hurts thinking how in the world do you get any kind of traction in Washington and get some kind of reasonable hearing here?” Perros said, referring to the plan to pipe “natural gas liquids” — byproducts of fracking in shale fields in the northeast — through the pipeline originally designed to carry natural gas. “Because the train is moving down the track and there’s big money behind it — and I mean big money behind it.”

The plan has been decried by local Boyle County residents, and every partner agency of the EDP, as well as the full EDP, have voted to oppose it. Opponents warn NGLs are far more explosive than natural gas; heavier than the pipeline was built to handle; and could lead to destruction of the region’s water supply in Lake Herrington if a leak were to occur.

But at the end of September, FERC approved “abandonment” of the natural gas pipeline, clearing a major hurdle for the owner, energy giant Kinder Morgan. In its ruling, FERC said it believes “the project would not result in significant environmental impacts.” It also stated it wasn’t ruling on whether to allow NGLs through the pipeline; only on allowing Kinder Morgan to stop using the pipeline for natural gas.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “would be the lead federal permitting agency and would be responsible for soliciting and reviewing comments” on the piping of NGLs, according to the FERC ruling.

Local zoning ordinances may also block the pipeline from being used for NGLs, if Kinder Morgan cannot secure a variance from the local Board of Adjustments for transporting hazardous materials through the county via pipeline.

Perros said Wednesday the pipeline plan poses a threat to economic development in the area.

“There’s too many unknowns in my opinion,” he said of the project. “And the consequences of those unknowns could be absolutely disastrous, thoroughly negating everything we’re trying to do here.”