Friday, October 12, 2001

Firm changes route of Ky. gas pipeline

        WHITESBURG, Ky. — One of the state's largest natural gas drilling companies has given up on a hotly disputed plan to construct a pipeline across a pristine section of Pine Mountain.

        Don Huck, operations manager for Columbia Natural Resources in Kentucky, said an alternative route has been chosen.

        The company has dropped condemnation actions to acquire rights of way from Letcher County property owners and has laid out a new route for the pipeline, the Mountain Eagle of Whitesburg reported this week.

        The alternate route goes through Harlan County on property owned by Arc Land Co., and affects no individual landowners. Mr. Huck said the company made the change when the it discovered it could sell the gas in a different market and avoid problems.

        In part because of the Columbia dispute, the Letcher County Fiscal Court is considering an ordinance that would require changes in the way the petroleum industry constructs pipelines.

        Magistrates earlier this week voted in favor of the ordinance, which was worked out between representatives of the environmental group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Columbia.

        Columbia had tried to build the pipeline from Oven Fork, across Pine Mountain to Isom, then to Mallie in Knott County. The company filed condemnation proceedings against residents of Letcher County during that process.

        That effort was blocked when magistrates refused the company permission to cross county roads, and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources denied permission to cross the Pine Mountain Wildlife Management area.


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