Kentucky sisters strive to stop natural gas pipeline

JoAnn Gates, a co-member of the Sisters of Loretto of Nerinx, Ky., trims and cuts flowers on the congregation’s property. The order has denied a request from the developer of the Bluegrass Pipeline to survey their land.

CNS PHOTO | PATRICK MURPHY-RACEY

JoAnn Gates, a co-member of the Sisters of Loretto of Nerinx, Ky., trims and cuts flowers on the congregation’s property. The order has denied a request from the developer of the Bluegrass Pipeline to survey their land.

September 23, 2013

In the “Holy Land” of central Kentucky, religious communities have joined neighbouring landowners in a campaign to stop a pipeline project they fear will endanger the land they hold so dear.

Their focus is on the Bluegrass Pipeline, which developers say will enhance America’s energy independence in bringing natural gas liquids to petrochemical operations on the Gulf Coast from burgeoning, hydraulic-fracturing natural gas operations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

However, landowners, including the Dominican Sisters of Peace, the Sisters of Loretto and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, all near one another in an environmentally sensitive area an hour south of Louisville, disagree.

They say the dangers posed by the pipeline and the flammable liquids it will carry pose too great a danger to the region’s fragile geology and long-standing way of life.

“The idea of anyone tearing up the land to put a pipeline through that may destroy the water (table) is just unthinkable,” said Sister Claire McGowan, who runs an organization called New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future.