judge condemns Bullitt County landowners seeking review of LG&E pipeline decision | In depth

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A judge has quashed an effort by Bullitt County landowners who wanted a fresh look at a ruling that allowed Louisville Gas & Electric Co. to condemn land for a gas pipeline project.

The group, whose lands lie along the route of the pipeline, had argued that Bullitt Circuit Judge Rodney Burress had not considered whether the line “primarily benefits” bourbon maker Jim Beam, which operates a factory in Clermont.

But that’s not what Kentucky law requires, Burress wrote in rulings filed in late September. Instead, he noted, the law simply requires a public service to show that there is public use.

Buress concluded that the project “would undoubtedly serve a broader public purpose in addition to greatly benefiting Jim Beam.”

The judge also wrote that the owners “have yet to provide evidence to counter the fact that 9,500 customers need reliable gas service and another 451 have been denied service.”

The Bullitt County pipeline route proposed by LG&E.

And Burress dismissed other arguments made by landowners, concluding that there was nothing new that had not already been factored into his initial sentencing decision in May. Among them was a “smoking gun” allegedly linked to the route of the pipeline which, according to the judge, was not part of the lawsuits in the eminent field.

Lawyers for the landowners were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

The Burress decisions deal with seven cases. A separate case involving LG&E’s action condemning land owned by Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest remains pending before the Bullitt Circuit Court.

LG&E received a key federal permit in August for the 12-mile gas transmission line that would run through central Bullitt County and connect to the county’s existing distribution system.

The utility said the line is needed to provide back-up gas supply, as well as to serve future industrial customers.

LG&E received the main federal approval for the project. A spokeswoman told WDRB News last month that she had to resolve all lawsuits, choose a contractor and obtain other minor permits before construction could begin.

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