FRANKFORT- Eminent domain could not be used to build pipelines that transport natural gas liquids through the Commonwealth under a bill that cleared the House on March 21, 75-16.
House Bill 31, as amended, would work by excluding natural gas liquids, or NGLs - including ethane, propane, butane, isobutene, pentane, or any combination of those liquids - from the definition of oil or gas and oil or gas products under current law. Use of eminent domain, or the taking of private property for public use, is allowed under Kentucky law for construction of oil or gas pipelines.
The only exception for natural gas liquids in the proposed statutes would be for those NGLs that are produced incidentally, or as a result, of oil and gas production within the state.
HB 31 as proposed by the House was also amended to take effect retroactively to Jan. 1, 2014 so that it would cover any eminent domain court action filed on or after that date. It would also include an emergency clause meaning the bill would take effect upon approval by the governor.
HB 31 sponsor Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, said that his bill would not prevent NGL pipelines such as the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline which would travel through several Central Kentucky counties from being built, but would prevent companies from using eminent domain to build those pipelines.
“Kentucky landowners are being approached everyday regarding easements to purchase, with the companies sadly trying to claim the power of eminent domain for negotiating power,” said Tilley. “However many, including the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, our own Governor, agree that House Bill 31 is needed, and that current law does not grant the right of eminent domain to natural gas liquids pipelines.”
Rep. Suzanne Miles, R-Owensboro, proposed an amendment that was narrowly defeated by a vote of 44-47 which would have removed the retroactive provisions, and the emergency clause, from HB 31.
HB 31 now goes to the Senate.