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October: Kinder Morgan pipeline project canceled

After nearly four years of planning, Houston-based energy giant Kinder Morgan announced that it was canceling its project to repurpose 964 miles of natural gas pipeline to carry fracking byproducts through six states, including Kentucky and Boyle County.

The company made the announcement on Oct. 17 in its third-quarter earnings statement. According to the statement, Kinder Morgan “determined that it will not proceed with its previously proposed Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline (UMTP) natural gas liquids project, instead maintaining that segment of an existing (Tennessee Gas) pipeline in natural gas service, while developing an attractive project to reverse its flow.”

In Danville and Boyle County, local opposition to the plan was perhaps stronger than at any other point along the pipeline’s route. Every government in Boyle County formally objected to the plan and a grassroots group calling itself Citizens Opposed to the Pipeline Conversion led vocal efforts against the plan.

“All I can say is it’s wonderful news,” said Sarah Vahlkamp a leader of the COPC group, which has been fighting the plan for around four years. “We just appreciate all the efforts that our community made and got behind. We can’t help but think that it made some difference.”

Mark Morgan is a local attorney who helped draft a zoning regulation that may have allowed Boyle County to block the pipeline plan locally if it ever got to an implementation phase.

He said the proposal to transport “natural gas liquids,” known as NGLs, would have threatened “our schools, our hospital, our drinking water supply, our prime farmland and many of the other resources in our community.”

“I can’t express how pleased I am, how overjoyed I am that it appears that we may have dodged this bullet,” Morgan said. “We’ll have to remain attentive and alert to future developments, but it appears that right now, we can appreciate how strong and effective our community is when we unite together.”

“This project was ill-conceived from the very beginning and the effective response from our community shows how powerful, how wonderful our community is when we are united,” Morgan said. “We came together regardless of political party, regardless of other values and became the leader in the state and in all six of the states affected by this proposed hazardous liquids pipeline. Credit goes to our city commission; our fiscal court; our Planning and Zoning Commission; our EDP; our Chamber of Commerce; our Convention and Visitors Bureau; Junction City Council; Perryville Council; the effective research and journalism from our local newspaper, The Advocate-Messenger; and the number of citizens that gave a huge amount of their time to raise awareness of the dangers of this project.”

Danville Mayor Mike Perros said Kinder Morgan’s announcement is “certainly welcome news. … But I wouldn’t turn my back on this chapter for good,” he cautioned. “In fact, if there’s anything we can do to further dissuade the federal government to ever consider this, I think we should do so.”