We’re glad that Kinder Morgan decided to abandon a pipeline project that would have endangered tens of thousands of residents in Kentucky – including Rowan County – and five other states from Texas to Ohio.
The news was celebrated by environmental activists, state and local governments and individual property owners who have battled the company’s proposal to push hazardous gas liquids through a 75-year-old natural gas pipeline.
In Kentucky, the pipeline extends 254 miles, including 20.4 miles across Rowan County, 19.6 miles in Greenup County and 12.4 miles in Carter County.
But the company still wants to continue using the pipeline for fracked natural gas by reversing the flow from north to south.
Kinder Morgan's line, the Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline, has been carrying natural gas from the Gulf Coast to gas-rich Ohio since 1943.
A boom in natural gas production, spurred by the fracking of underground reserves, has created an oversupply of natural gas liquids, used primarily in petrochemical production.
Fracking is the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas.
Kinder Morgan received approval from federal regulators but the repurposing of the pipeline has been challenged in numerous state and local courts. Top of FormBottom of Form
Pipeline safety experts claim natural gas liquids are more dangerous than natural gas itself because they carry explosion and asphyxiation risks, and can pollute ground or surface water.
The liquids include propane and butane and other highly toxic byproducts.
In a surprising report to investors last week, Kinder Morgan said it had not found any customers to buy the liquids on the Gulf Coast.
Instead, Kinder Morgan’s now wants to use the old pipeline to ship natural gas from Appalachia to new customers like Mexico.
Kentucky’s pipeline critics expressed joy at the KM decision but said they would remain vigilant to make sure that the company’s new plan for the old pipeline does not create new hazards for its neighbors.
We don’t know for sure what motivated Kinder Morgan to change its plans but it was great decision for those living near that pipeline.
And lots of anxious folks will be watching for what happens next.