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Residents seek answers during open house

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Residents from Grant and surrounding counties got a chance Aug. 6 to learn more first-hand about a proposed Bluegrass Pipeline during an open house at the Williamstown Senior Center.
The $2.9 million project, which has drawn the ire of many, is being developed by energy infrastructure companies Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP.
The roughly 1,100-mile proposed natural-gas-liquids (NGL) pipeline, which has a targeted in-service date of late 2015, could transport up to 400,000 barrels of natural gas drilling byproducts daily from mining regions northeast of Kentucky to the Gulf Coast.
A map of the pipeline’s proposed route shows it would go through parts of southern Grant County.
“We think it’s very important to hear from the residents and get their input and answer all their questions,” said Tom Droege, spokesperson for Bluegrass Pipeline. “We have different experts here from the disciplines on the pipeline. We have environmental experts, construction and engineering, right-of-way, monitoring after the pipeline is underground and safety.”
Bluegrass Pipeline representatives in tan polo shirts ushered in residents into a cramped space inside the senior center, where they signed in and had the opportunity to pick up handouts, look at a map of the proposed pipeline route and ask questions.
The crowd appeared steady throughout the two and a half hour event.
Several residents attended the open house to learn more about the project and if it would impact their land.
“They haven’t been to my property,” said Genevia Risner of Corinth. “That’s one reason I came because I wanted to look at their map. But, you look at their map and you can’t even tell where it’s going to. I thought they’d be more details here and there’s not.”
Risner, who listened to representatives talk to others about the pipeline, said she is not in favor of the project.
During her time at the open house, Risner said she heard conflicting information coming from multiple Bluegrass Pipeline representatives.
“I just hope people will research it and get a more varied idea instead of what’s being presented in there,” she said. “It’s slick and polished and sounds good. That doesn’t mean it’s the truth.”
“Safety is a big concern,” Risner said. “I can only speak for myself, but people live in Corinth not for the convenience, but because we love to be in the country and in the wilderness with the animals. Anything that we think might jeopardize that in anyway, we’re going to be opposed to.”
Judy Wigginton of Williamstown also said she had concerns about the pipeline.
“I’m concerned about our water supply, the contamination of our water supplies at Corinth Lake and Williamstown Lake,” she said.
Allen Gaines, who lives in Scott County but owns 113 acres in southern Grant County where he hunts, said surveyors went on his property in July after he notified them in writing not to enter his land without him present.
“The next Sunday, we go down to check our cameras and they’re all over our cameras surveying,” he said.
Gaines printed out surveillance camera photos, including one of a surveyor urinating on the property, to show pipeline representatives the next time they showed up at his house.
Gaines said the officials apologized, paid him $113 for the cost of developing the photos and laid two $50 gift cards on the table.
The following day, Gaines called and said he did not want Bluegrass Pipeline back on the property again.
“I ain’t got many more months to walk on my feet,” said Gaines, who is battling cancer. “I’ve been told that. I am not going to let somebody like this go in and screw it up with the few months I got left.”
This thing is just a joke,” he said. “For the little people in Grant County and Scott County that have worked all their lives to have what they’ve got and for something like this to go through the middle of it and tear it up, when they’re not going to get enough out of it to pay their taxes.”
Gaines’ fiancee. Jody Thurman, said the proposed pipeline would likely take out a hunting house, two 10-acre food plots and three deer stands on the property.
Both Gaines and Thurman thought the open-house style meeting was not professional.
“I just don’t think they are telling the whole truth to all these people,” she said. “I think the whole truth needs to be told.”
Just outside of the senior center, a table was set up by opponents of the project, Stop the Bluegrass Pipeline.
The group handed out information about the safety record of the companies involved and asked people to sign a petition asking Gov. Steve Beshear to add legislation to the upcoming special session regulating natural gas liquid pipelines.
The following day, a rally was held in Frankfort where the group presented the governor with more than 5,200 signatures on the petition.
However, Beshear said possible legislation could wait until the 2014 General Assembly begins in January.
When asked about the critics of the pipeline, Droege described the growing group as “a distraction.”
“I would say to them that we are here to provide facts,” he said. “We are here to provide people with correct information. I think the majority of the people just wanted to understand what the project’s about. When you have false information out there and you have misinformation it just creates confusion. That’s unfortunate. I think it’s a distraction.”
As for what is next, Droege said representatives will look at the feedback from open houses across the state and determine what course of action is best.
“Depending on the feedback we get, we’ll compile all that and see what the main issues are and see if there are themes,” he said. “Is safety the main concern? Is it eminent domain? Then, we’ll determine what to do next. It may be additional open houses. It may be more of small group meetings with those people who have concerns.”
For more information about the Bluegrass Pipeline, go to www.bluegrasspipeline.com.
For more information about opposition to the project, go to www.stopbluegrasspipeline.us.