By Allen Kirkley and James Scheel
Special to KyForward
Learning that a new underground pipeline may be coming through Kentucky has some folks asking questions. What are the risks? What about my land? What about the environmental impact? These are just a few things Kentuckians have a right to know about the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline Project.
But those parties that use scare tactics to oppose such projects do not want you to hear the truth: that underground pipelines are a safe and effective method for transporting the energy products on which the American economy depends.
Underground pipelines are certainly nothing new in Kentucky. There are thousands of miles of pipelines safely operating beneath our feet every day. In fact, more than half of the proposed 1,100-mile Bluegrass Pipeline is already in place and operated by Kentucky-based Texas Gas; it is simply being repurposed to carry natural gas liquids.
The portion of the Bluegrass Pipeline causing concern is a new section that will join an existing pipeline in Western Kentucky. News of this pipeline has been saturated with misleading rhetoric by the same groups who regularly stand in the way of projects that will benefit Kentucky’s economy.
The Bluegrass Pipeline will ensure Kentucky is a key participant in providing affordable, abundant and accessible energy to American manufacturers. That means jobs, and it means Kentucky continues to play a part in making our nation energy independent.
If the Bluegrass Pipeline was an above ground factory, local officials and residents would be lining up to cheer the new jobs and investment in the state! But because of the statements of a noisy few, residents now believe that pipelines and the jobs and investment that come with them are not safe.
The Bluegrass Pipeline will be safe and should be welcomed in Kentucky, as it will be transporting important natural resources produced in the North to support the resurgence of the petrochemical industry here in the United States. And, if investment is made in Kentucky, the natural gas liquids in the Bluegrass Pipeline could be tapped, separated, then sold locally, saving transportation costs for the raw products needed for many local businesses.
There is certainly no lack of regulation as some have alleged. The Bluegrass Pipeline will be subject to stringent safety requirements from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will also approve the transportation rates and the terms of service for the Bluegrass Pipeline. This is the same regulatory process that governs all interstate natural gas liquid pipelines across the country.
The new build portion of Bluegrass will be constructed in accordance to federal safety standards including being subjected to a pressure test prior to natural gas liquids being introduced to the pipeline. The portion of the pipeline being converted to natural gas liquids will be thoroughly inspected and tested before, during and after conversion. Our team is one of the most experienced in the nation and already operates more than 1,400 miles of existing pipeline in Kentucky and approximately 40,000 miles of pipeline nationwide. Their commitment to safety is unmatched in the industry.
Construction of the pipeline employs high-strength steel, advanced anti-corrosive coatings and sophisticated integrity testing before any natural gas liquids ever run through it. The pipeline is continuously monitored by state-of-the-art sensors and trained professionals 24 hours per day. Trained personnel will regularly fly, drive and walk the length of the pipeline to conduct visual inspections of the pipelines. Safely operating a pipeline is an important aspect of the culture of Bluegrass Pipeline’s owners.
The pipeline also has a key benefit to the people of Kentucky – ensuring that Kentuckians continue to enjoy low energy rates. Keeping the natural gas liquids flowing through our energy system helps keep costs down for job creators and working families. Kentucky will play a major part in the transmission of this important resource because of the Bluegrass Pipeline, and Kentuckians will likely see additional benefits from the improved regional pricing of natural gas by relieving the coming bottleneck of natural gas liquids.
We are dedicated to working with landowners and public officials to build the pipeline in the least-intrusive manner possible, and we are committed to extensive outreach to keep the public informed of what we are doing.
James Scheel and Allen Kirkley are representatives of Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP, two leading energy infrastructure companies, who have partnered to develop the Bluegrass Pipeline Project. Learn more about the project here.