With the City of Clarksville's gas and water utility to hold a public open house in Todd County tomorrow regarding a controversial proposal to run a new natural gas line from north of Elkton to Montgomery County, a local lawmaker has pre-filed a bill dealing with eminent domain for next year's session.
Eighth District State Representative John Tilley chairs the House Judiciary Committee and pre-filed legislation that would make the law governing eminent domain clearer when issues arise.
The bill would specify that any proposed oil and gas pipelines are available for “public use as a common carrier” for similar products, which is a more stringent guideline when compared to the current law that requires these pipelines only be of a “public service” when it comes to eminent domain. That's important in Todd County because Clarksville's current proposal would reportedly not allow a new utility to serve residents in rural areas that currently don't have access to natural gas.
The Public Service Commission also would play a gatekeeper role if those constructing pipelines cannot reach agreement with private landowners.
The most prominent ongoing eminent domain case in Kentucky is the Bluegrass Pipeline , which would ship natural gas liquids from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to Texas and Louisiana. The planned route in Kentucky includes 13 counties, none of which support construction.
Tilley says Kentucky's eminent domain policies need to be revisited and it's possible these issues are becoming more prominent because of a perceived weakness in the current law.
Todd Fiscal Court has hired Washington D.C. Attorney Jennifer Waters to help represent their interest in a likely court battle with Clarksville. The open house will run from 5:30 until 7:30 at Todd County Middle School.