Keith Isbell, a Senior Communications Specialist for the builders and operators of Bluegrass Pipeline, awarded Friends of Rough River a $10,000 grant on Thursday morning at Rough River Lodge -- Friends of Rough River is a non-profit, public service corporation with a goal of promoting environmental stewardship and boating safety while increasing interest and tourism for the area.
The Bluegrass Pipeline web site describes the upcoming project as transporting ”natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale producing areas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, to the developing petrochemical market in the Northeast U.S., as well as the rapidly expanding petrochemical and export complex on the U.S. Gulf Coast.”
The pipeline will traverse Pennsylvania to the Louisiana coast, while running through Kentucky. The grant is intended to be an investment in the community, a way of giving back, according to Isbell.
“We believe strongly in supporting the communities where our employees live and work,” Isbell said. “We have a long history of doing just that. Whether it’s this project or another project, it’s what we do to give back to our community because our employees live and work there.”
The grant, though, is only a small portion of the overall financial windfall Isbell expects the pipeline to produce for the state.
“We believe the pipeline will positively impact ad valorem taxes -- some refer to them as property taxes -- by over $13 million per year in total for the counties where the pipeline traverses in Kentucky,” Isbell said. “In some counties, we'll be one of the largest, if not the largest, property tax contributor, (and of course) property taxes help counties and states fund local schools and libraries among other important entities.”
Also, Bluegrass Pipeline expects to pay out millions of dollars to land owners in Kentucky as the pipeline’s course is plotted.
“In addition to the community grant program, we anticipate investing $30 to $50 million in Kentucky to acquire easements for our route through the commonwealth,” Isbell said.
The reasons for constructing and operating the pipeline are many, but primary among them is to wean the U.S. off of reliance on oil from foreign countries.
“This is infrastructure that is helping feed the North American narrative of helping us achieve energy independence,” Isbell stated.
The benefits of the pipeline running through the commonwealth, other than a strengthened tax base and easement payouts, will be most keenly felt in job creation and enhanced infrastructure.
“In Kentucky, there will be about 1,500 jobs via construction whenever the project is undertaken from a construction prospective, and the infrastructure in place will help Kentucky continue to be in a great spot in terms of what it does, and where it is in the path between Pennsylvania and Louisiana,” Isbell stressed. “We’re certainly very pleased to be in Kentucky.”
Howard Tomes, President of Friends of Rough River, is also pleased Bluegrass Pipeline is in Kentucky, as his organization is just one of many to receive much needed capital in the form of grants awarded by the pipeline builders.
“Well, (the $10,000.00 grant) is a tremendous shot in the arm for the Friends of Rough River,” Tomes said. “As you know, the Friends of Rough River has worked diligently over the last five or six years in bringing Rough River up to par with a lot of the other local lakes.”
It’s the Friends of Rough River who sponsor local events which bring tourism dollars to the area, and give families plentiful summertime activity options. This money will allow the organization to expand those activities, as well as continue to keep Rough River Lake clean.
“The’ Friends’ are doing a lot of things for the communities in Breckinridge and Grayson County both,” Tomes said. “We have a lot of events each year and we have a lot of children get involved in these events; it means a lot to the kids. This money will go toward summer activities and it will go toward helping keep this lake clean. And we all want a clean lake because Leitchfield gets its drinking water out of this lake.”
Although to some Kentuckians the pipeline is an unwanted undertaking, Tomes is thankful for the infusion of funds which will enable Friends of Rough River to continue to fulfill its mission
“We want to really thank Bluegrass Pipeline for this grant,” Tomes said. “It means a whole lot to the Friends of Rough River, it really does. And it means a whole lot to the local communities of Breckinridge and Grayson Counties.”