Wild places sustain and define us; we, in turn, must protect them.
Kentucky Heartwood files in U.S. Court of Appeals to block Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline conversion project
For Immediate Release, February 6, 2018
Contact: Ryan Talbott, Allegheny Defense Project, (503) 329-9162
Tom Fitzgerald, Kentucky Resources Council, (502) 875 2428
Jim Scheff, Kentucky Heartwood, (859) 334-0602, firstname.lastname@example.org
Groups petition U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. for review of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order Approving “Abandonment” and “Repurposing” of Tennessee Gas Pipeline
Federal agency failed to consider unique safety and environmental hazards posed by conversion of aging natural gas pipeline to transporting hazardous liquids
BEREA, KY – Three environmental groups filed a Petition for Review with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on January 31st asking the Court to review a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approving the abandonment and repurposing of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP), owned by energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan. The petitioning organizations, Kentucky Resources Council, Allegheny Defense Project, and Kentucky Heartwood, argue that the FERC failed to give adequate consideration to the unique safety and environmental risks posed by approving the repurposing of a 24” diameter, 70+ year-old natural gas pipeline for transporting heavier, more volatile natural gas liquids (NGLs).
Natural gas liquids are hydrocarbon byproducts of oil and gas extraction. The “fracking boom” in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia has created a glut of these materials, which are used in the plastics and other industries. FERC approved the “abandonment in place” of one of Tennessee Gas’ natural gas pipelines; the first step in Kinder Morgan’s plan to reverse the flow in order to transport NGLs to processing and export facilities on the Gulf Coast. The pipeline traverses 6 states and 18 Kentucky counties.
Particular concerns have been raised in Kentucky, with the pipeline passing through populated areas of Richmond in Madison County and Danville and Herrington Lake in Boyle County. Both counties have passed zoning requirements relating to hazardous liquids pipelines in order to have some say in whether or not hazardous liquids pipelines are compatible with existing land uses.
The pipeline also poses risks to the exceptional biodiversity of the Green River upstream and through Mammoth Cave National Park. The river provides habitat for 151 species of fish, with 29 mussel and fish species that are considered imperiled or vulnerable, and 7 listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Unlike natural gas, a portion of the NGLs can leak or spill into surface and groundwater and soil, causing serious and lasting environmental impacts.
The petitioners filed a Request for Rehearing with FERC last October. FERC failed to issue a decision on the Petition for Rehearing, instead issuing a “tolling order,” stating that the request was being reviewed but not decided upon. FERC-issued tolling orders allow pipeline projects to move forward while delaying citizens timely access to judicial review. The Petitioners believe that the failure of FERC to act within the time allowed for a decision on rehearing, set by Congress, made the underlying decision to approve the pipeline abandonment immediately subject to judicial review.
Over the course of FERCs environmental analysis, more than 900 comments were submitted, almost entirely opposed to the project. Among those expressing concern were the Madison County Fiscal Court, the Clark County Fiscal Court, the Boyle County Fiscal Court, the Marion County Fiscal Court, the Barren County Fiscal Court, Kentucky State Senate Majority Whip Jimmy Higdon, the Bluegrass Areas Development District, the Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Danville, the Danville Independent School District and Danville Schools Board of Education, and the Rowan County Board of Education.
“The reversal and conversion of this pipeline to transport NGLs will further induce fracking in Pennsylvania, fragmenting our forested watersheds with more roads and well pads,” said Ryan Talbott, executive director of the Allegheny Defense Project. “FERC, however, refused to even consider those impacts before approving Kinder Morgan’s proposal. Such a short-sighted, industry-friendly review may benefit Kinder Morgan’s bottom line but it comes at the expense of Pennsylvanians’ right to clean water and intact forests.”
More information on the fight against the pipeline can be found on our Forest Blog here.
For Immediate Release
Kentucky Heartwood Appeals Forest Plan Decision to Sixth Circuit
Claims faulty analysis ignored public sentiment, over-emphasizes commercial logging on Daniel Boone National Forest
(Lexington), KY - Kentucky Heartwood recently filed a Notice of Appeal to the 6th Circuit challenging the April 27, 2009 decision of federal judge Karl Forester. Forester ruled against Kentucky Heartwood and Heartwood in a lawsuit charging that the U.S. Forest Service had violated the law in implementing its revised forest management plan and the Morehead Ice Storm Recovery Project.
The forest advocacy organizations initially brought the suit to federal court on the grounds that public input was ignored; effects of herbicides were not analyzed; and the endangered Indiana Bat was not adequately protected. The appeal to Circuit Court charges that District Judge Forester failed to address the issues raised in the original complaint.
In its 2003 revision of the Forest Plan, the Forest Service contemplated several management scenarios for the 700,000-acre Daniel Boone National Forest in Southeastern Kentucky. Unprecedented public input during the planning process resulted in 1,109 letters and 2,658 petition signatures submitted for the Forest Service to consider on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) alone. Ninety-four percent of the individuals who submitted comments on the DEIS urged the federal agency to stop commercial logging on Kentucky's only national forest. The Forest Service considered 6 alternatives in detail; none of them represented a no-logging option.
During the course of the nine-year forest plan revision process, two citizens’ alternatives for managing the forest without commercial logging were submitted to the agency, which ignored them both. Despite the fact that places like Big South Fork and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are successfully managed without the use of commercial logging, the Forest Service attempted to characterize a no-logging option as non-management of the forest and deemed it unworkable without any analysis. Judge Forester accepted their argument without addressing the National Forest Management Act regulations that require the range of alternatives to respond to significant public concerns.
"The Daniel Boone National Forest and the people of Kentucky deserve a management plan rooted in a healthy, functioning forest ecosystem – not a patchwork of logging roads and subsidized commercial harvests. But the Forest Service says this is unworkable, without even taking a serious look at how to do it,” stated Kentucky Heartwood Director, Jim Scheff.
The 2003 Plan approves the use of herbicides across the forest. Kentucky Heartwood and Heartwood pointed out that the plan analysis failed to address the forest-wide impacts of herbicide use. The Forest Service claimed that analysis need only take place when a particular project is approved. The judge agreed with the agency without addressing the fact that at the project level the Forest Service continues to fail to consider the cumulative impacts of forest-wide herbicide use.
Chris Schimmoeller, boardmember of Kentucky Heartwood, stated, "At a time when the devastating effects of long-term, cumulative herbicide exposure are becoming well known, we are extremely disappointed that Judge Forester was fooled by the Forest Service’s shell game."
For more information:
Jim Scheff, Kentucky Heartwood Director
Heartwood Forest Watch Director
Kentucky Heartwood Council Member
(502) 226-5751, ext. 3